Solutions For Senior Dog Anxiety At Night

Our writers & fact checkers independently research, test, analyze, and recommend the best motorcycle products. We may receive commissions from purchases made via our links.

Senior dogs are known to struggle with health issues, including anxiety at night, and it can be difficult to find the right solutions to help them sleep.

Solutions that can work for a senior dog with anxiety at night include:

  • Increased daily exercise,
  • Changes to their diet
  • Creating a new routine
  • Using calming pet supplements
  • Visiting the vet for medication
  • Using a ThunderShirt
  • Soothing music or sounds

Anxiety disorders in dogs are normal, and it's especially common in senior dogs. We have discovered ways to solve this issue to help them feel more comfortable at night and improve their sleep and behavior.

In this article

7 Solutions For Senior Dog Anxiety At Night

Senior dogs often experience anxiety when they are left alone at night. The anxiety can result from a traumatic event that happened in their past, or a change in their environment can cause it.

It is important to note that many solutions for senior dog anxiety at night are not a cure; instead, they are ways to minimize the symptoms.

We recommend increasing daily exercise, implementing diet changes, creating a routine, using calming supplements, speaking to a vet about medications, using a ThunderShirt, or playing soothing sounds or music.

Increased Daily Exercise

We recommend increasing daily exercise to help a senior dog sleep better at night. This will help to reduce their anxiety and improve their sleep quality.

However, this needs to be done carefully because they likely have less energy and worsening health conditions. A simple walk or two added throughout the day can make all the difference to help with better sleep.

But be careful to increase exercise sparingly. This can lead to more health concerns or increased pain in weak joints for senior dogs.

Diet Changes

Older dogs have a higher chance of developing anxiety and other stress-related illnesses. This is often caused by changes in their environment, like going to a new home or being around new people.

Changing an older dog's diet can help with this anxiety by providing them with more natural ingredients, which may be easier for them to digest.

It’s also possible to find foods specially made for senior dogs. They include ingredients to promote better joint health and other health benefits to avoid sickness and pain.

Create And Stick To A Regular Routine

A regular routine is important for any senior dog with anxiety at night. It helps them to settle down and get the sleep they need.

Some senior dogs may be unable to sleep at night because of increased anxiety. A change in routine can cause them to worry about what might happen next, leading to insomnia.

Dogs are creatures of habit, and they like to know what to expect. Keeping them on a regular routine will help them feel more comfortable.

A good way to create a routine is by establishing a bedtime ritual with your pet. This ritual must be consistent so the dog knows when it’s time for bed.

Try Calming Pet Supplements

Senior dogs are known to suffer from anxiety and sleep problems. They can also be more sensitive to environmental stimuli, like loud noises and sudden movements.

In the past, these issues were often treated with medication or by changing the dog's diet. But now, there is a new solution with calming pet supplements.

These supplements contain ingredients like L-theanine, found in green tea and thought to promote relaxation and sleep. They also contain melatonin, a hormone that regulates the body's circadian rhythm (sleep-wake cycle).

Speak To A Vet About Medications

A dog's anxiety manifests in several ways. But for senior dogs, it’s more common because of other health problems like we’ve mentioned.

When this becomes an issue, we recommend speaking to a veterinarian about medications to help with the anxiety. SSRIs and antidepressants are the most commonly prescribed medications for older dogs with anxiety.

The veterinarian may also recommend herbal remedies, such as valerian and chamomile tea, or other natural therapies that can be used to calm the dog.

Use A ThunderShirt

The ThunderShirt is a stress-relieving calming wrap for dogs. It helps them with anxiety and any stressful situations.

We recommend using this product with senior dogs struggling with anxiety at night. It helps keep them calm to provide better sleep.

It works by applying slight pressure and mimics the process of swaddling a baby. It’s also used with younger dogs who get overexcited.

Soothing Music Or Sounds

A study found that playing soothing music to senior dogs helped them feel more secure and relaxed. This is because the sound of the music masks other noises, like traffic outside, which may be frightening for a senior dog.

It can also help calm their anxiety and make them feel less lonely or nervous. We recommend trying this when establishing a routine with a senior dog, so this music indicates it is time to sleep.

Why Do Senior Dogs Have Anxiety At Night?

Senior dogs have anxiety at night because they cannot sleep as deeply as they used to. As a dog owner, it pains us to see this happen to our beloved pets.

It’s extremely difficult to deal with an aging dog who struggles with sleeping and anxiety at night.

Some of the reasons this happens include pain, sickness, dog dementia, failing senses, or sudden changes to their routine or environment.

Pain Or Sickness

Dogs, like humans, can experience pain and sickness as they age. This is because their immune system weakens with age, making them more susceptible to disease.

When a senior dog has a fever or joint pain, it will often struggle to sleep at night because the discomfort makes it difficult for them to rest.

As a result, it can lead them to experience anxiety and struggle to sleep at night.

Dog Dementia

Dog dementia is also called Canine Cognitive Dysfunction, and dogs can be diagnosed with this health issue when they get older. It directly impacts the memory and cognitive ability of a senior dog.

This can cause anxiety for many senior dogs because they are less aware of their surroundings. It creates more of a struggle to sleep and remain calm too.

Typically a dog struggling with dog dementia will need to see a vet about medication. It can be a complex health condition to manage.

Failing Senses

Senior dogs can get anxiety at night because of failing senses like vision, hearing, and sense of smell. The dog can become agitated, confused, and restless when this happens.

To help them feel less anxious, owners should make sure that the dog is in a safe and comfortable place when trying to sleep.

When conditions are more serious, limiting their mobility is also beneficial. It allows for reduced stress, and an owner typically monitors all exercise to keep the dog more controlled and safe.

Routine Or Environment Changes

Senior dogs are more sensitive to changes in their environment or routines. When they have anxiety, they may show signs of distress, such as vocalizing, pacing, and avoiding the area where the change occurred.

We recommend keeping them on a regular schedule and using the abovementioned solutions to solve their anxiety problems.


Mark Brunson

Mark Brunson

Mark is the founder of Everything Labradors and a husband and father of 3. He enjoys spending time with his family, including his dog Molly, a Labrador/Golden Retriever mix. He’s a big fan of the outdoors and loves to travel to new places.

Read more about Mark Brunson