When we think of dogs, we don't often think of insomnia, but it is a common problem, especially in older dogs. There are many reasons why your dog might not be sleeping, ranging from stress or lack of exercise to allergies and disease. Whatever the reason, it is important that you contact your vet and get a diagnosis for the problem. In the meantime, there are numerous natural remedies you can use to try to get your pooch off to sleep.
Your dog may not be sleeping properly because he has too much stored-up energy. Dogs need to be exercised on a daily basis. This should include either a walk or a full-on run, depending on the age and size of your dog. The larger the dog, the more the exercise he will need. If your dog stays in the house all day, his energy levels may result in him waking up during the night. One good way to make sure his energy is spent is to exercise him just before bedtime. Try taking him out for a walk 45 minutes before he normally goes to bed, and he should sleep right through the night.
Valerian root has been a popular sleeping aid among humans for 2,000 years, and it will have the same sedative effect on your dog, thereby promoting sleep. It is believed that the herb works by acting on the central nervous system and by inhibiting the neurotransmitter gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA). According to Dr Nicholas Dodman, professor at Tufts University's Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine, dog owners should make sure their pet isn't taking any other medication before giving them valerian root, as it can interact negatively with other drugs. Dodman also suggests the dosing be about the same for a large dog as for a human, with a normal dose in the range of 500-600 mg. Obviously, smaller dogs should get smaller doses. Give your dog valerian root up to two hours before sleeping. Make sure, however, that you consult your vet before giving your dog any medication.
Massaging your dog before bedtime is a good way to get him to relax. According to Vetinfo, the best place to start is on the spine, working with your fingers in the direction of the fur, making sure that you also focus on the dog's head and spine. Next, concentrate on the muscles, making semicircular movements with either your fingers or the palm of your hand. The best way to finish is by rocking the dog as you would baby to get him to relax further.