There is nothing worse than a sleepless, restless night followed by a day of feeling tired and overwhelmed. Remember the last time you spend the entire night pacing around the bedroom or tossing in the bed, looking for the position that will finally make you sleepy? Well, if it is any solace, you are not alone – many people face the same problem. As a matter of fact, even dogs do. Yes, dogs restless at night not sleeping is quite a common problem. But what causes restless at night in dogs? And more importantly, could it be solved?

Why are dogs restless at night and not sleeping

Many reasons can cause dogs restless at night not sleeping. Some are relatively simple and harmless while others are serious and warrant an immediate trip to the vet’s office. Here are the most common causes dogs do not sleep through the night.

Hot ambient temperatures

It is hard to fall asleep if the room air is hot and dry. The same concept applies to dogs. All dogs but particularly younger ones, often fail to sleep through the night if the room’s ambient temperatures are too high. Adult dogs are more adaptable and get used to sleeping in conditions that are not perfect, but younger dogs are more sensitive. So, if you think my dog won’t sleep through the night anymore, check your room thermostat – maybe you need to invest in a cooling system.


More often than not, old dogs develop dementia. Sadly, the first sign of this devastating and progressive condition is restless sleep. The problem is usually classified as behavioral, and it is hard to diagnose and treat. If you suspect a dog restless at night not sleeping is caused by dementia, your vet will make a full physical examination to rule out other potential causes. If the dog is diagnosed with dementia, there are ways to manage the restlessness, but not to cure the condition.

Basically, when there are older dogs restless at night, the first cause that comes to mind is dementia.


Being in pain is a devastating feeling that prevents the dog from performing its everyday activities. More often than not, pain interferes with sleep. During the day, our dogs are preoccupied with doing dog stuff and spending time with us – their human families. However, at night, when there are no distractions, the pain kicks in.

If the dog restless at night not sleeping is caused by pain, it is of paramount importance to have a vet determine the pain’s underlying cause. Sometimes it can be a minor and easily fixable issue like bug bites or itchy skin, but other times it can be more severe, like arthritis or even life-threatening like cancer. Once the underlying cause is determined, the vet will start with the treatment, and as soon as the pain goes away, the dog can go back to its regular sleeping pattern.

pain in dog


Just like we cannot sleep when we are stressed and anxious, our dogs cannot sleep as well. A dog restless at night not sleeping due to anxiety is likely to pace and reposition. This is especially common in older dogs. So when there are older dogs restless at night, the second most common cause is anxiety. It is crucial to determine the anxiety trigger and successfully remove it or at least minimize its effect.

Sometimes, even small and unimportant things can make an older dog feel anxious. However, sometimes the anxiety can be caused by a more serious problem – for example, not being able to hold it through the night because of kidney disease. Regardless of the dog’s age, it is essential to schedule a vet visit, and if necessary, the vet may refer you to a canine behaviorist.

What to do if dog restless at night not sleeping?

If your dog is experiencing restless and sleepless nights, have it thoroughly checked by your trusted vet. If the underlying problem is physical, the vet will suggest an adequate treatment plan.

If the underlying problem is stress or anxiety, you should probably work with a canine behaviorist on determining and minimizing the trigger. Additionally, it is good to ensure a more comfortable sleeping environment – for example, fresh air, dimmed lights, and quiet surroundings are the perfect sleep enhancers. Some dogs benefit from white noise devices producing sounds resembling running water or a ticking clock. Some dogs feel more comfortable if sleeping in your bed. Finally, make sure your dog gets plenty of physical and mental stimulation throughout the day. If it is well-tired, chances are it will sleep through the night.

The cost of restless at night not sleeping

Being restless at night not sleeping takes its toll on your dog and you. It makes your dog feel tired and frustrated, and it makes you spend a couple of bucks on vet bills. Determining and managing a dog that is restless at night not sleeping varies from as little as $350 to as much as $10.000 based on the nature of the underlying cause.

older dogs restless at night


Generally speaking, there are four main reasons why restless at night occurs in dogs. The first reason – hot ambient temperatures, is relatively benign and usually bothering younger puppies. Turning on the AC or merely opening a window can be enough to deal with the issue and ensure your puppy is getting well-rested.

The other reasons include dementia, pain, and anxiety. Dementia is the leading cause of restless at night in older dogs, while pain and anxiety can develop in dogs of any age. These three causes always require veterinary attention. The sooner you schedule a vet appointment, the sooner you will get to the bottom of the problem, and your dog will go back to sleeping through the night.