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Help! My Senior Dog is Whining at Night

Irish setter laying on a couch

Whining is one of the main signs of your dog’s restlessness. It is quite common in senior dogs and some owners may find it hard to determine the underlying cause. This is because many different reasons can result in this behavior and most of them are not obvious. Keep reading to know why your senior dog is whining at night and how you can solve this problem.

Why is My Senior Dog Whining at Night?

If you have a dog, you should expect whining at some point, especially when he/she grows old. It is a normal canine behavior and they use it to communicate with their owners. However, if you feel that my senior dog is whining a lot, observe your pooch closely to identify what’s wrong. The following are some reasons that can make a senior dog whine at night.

Pain

small brown dog asleep on a dog bed.

If your dog whines while sleeping in certain positions, he/she could be in pain. Likewise, waking up suddenly during the night can also be a sign of pain. The most common reasons that can make your senior dog’s body ache are musculoskeletal issues and abdominal pain.

Health Issues

Black and brown dog with a greying face laying on a white dog bed

Problems, like bloating and upset stomachs, might also be the reason that your senior dog whines a lot at night. These health issues can be caused by using low-quality food (or ingredients). The fast eating habits of your pooch can also lead to bloating. Similarly, dogs can also whine a lot while sleeping due to the shortness of breath.

Fear or Anxiety

close up portrait of a black lab with a grey face

Senior dogs become quite reliant on their owners and sometimes whines if they get anxious, especially when left alone. Separation anxiety is one of those issues that can affect a dog of any age. However, this problem becomes worse as the dog grows old.

Fear is another reason due to which your dog starts whining a lot, especially at night. Dogs might fear loud noise, unusual smells, and changing environments. Stress can cause discomfort to your elderly dog and can encourage your dog to start whining.

Dementia

Old, multicolored dog laying on a burgandy blanket

Older dogs might develop an issue known as “cognitive dysfunction”. This dysfunction may result in memory problems in your dog and they will start looking confused and fearful. It’s quite possible that a dog suffering from this condition wakes up during the night and starts whining. This usually happens because they aren’t sure about their whereabouts. Cognitive dysfunction can also increase the restlessness of your dog.

Boredom

dog that resembles a wolf laying on a brown leather couch with a golden yellow blanket

Dogs require motivation in the form of exercise like walks and playing time. Lack of these physical activities can make your pup bored. This will ultimately lead to whining as your dog tries to get the attention of the owner.

What to Do if My Senior Dog is Whining at Night?

close up of the face of a black lab with his head laying on a blanket

You have numerous possibilities to help your dog to remain calm during the night. Some of the most effective ones among them are as follows.

Ensure Regular Exercise

Regular exercise can help your dog to get rid of several issues. For example, long walks and playtime are excellent to avoid the stress, anxiety, and boredom of your dog. Exercise can also lead your dog to better sleep and keep him/her healthy, happier, and away from whining.

Keep a Light On at Night

Chihuahua under a blanket with his head poking out.

Some dogs might get unhappy due to the complete darkness in the room. This will make them anxious. Adding a small light near the sleeping area of your dog can help to solve this issue. It is one of the best solutions to counter the whining caused by cognitive dysfunction. This is because the light will help the dog to see and remember his/her whereabouts.

Try Some Music

Music will help the dogs if they are under stress. Therefore, owners can play some calm music near their dogs to control their anxiety. It can also be beneficial to give proper sleep to your canine friend.

Limit the Amount of Food

Yellow lab looking over the edge of a table at a dog bowl full of food

Stomach problems are one of the major reasons whining at night. Feeding a simple and balanced diet with quality ingredients will make the digestion easier. This will keep the pup comfortable during the night. Additionally, you can try a very bland diet (like plain cooked white rice and boiled chicken) for a few days. If the situation improves, you can stick to that diet.

Schedule a Bedtime Potty Break

This can be a great idea to avoid restlessness caused by stomach pains. You can take your pooch on a walk and give him/her an opportunity to defecate just before bedtime. 

Bed

Dachshund laying in a dog bed on its side.

Using a soft bed for your senior dog can resolve muscular aches and abdominal pain. You can also add a blanket and pillow depending upon the weather and health of your canine. A comfortable sleep means you won’t have to deal with whining.

Routine

Senior dogs always want to follow their routine and any changes can be disturbing for them. This means you have to adjust the timing for your dog’s meal, bedtime, sleep, and going outside. Once it is done, you should always stick to it to avoid any issues.  

Visit the Vet

Yellow lab sitting on a table next to a vet wearing scrubs

If you are unable to determine the cause, taking your dog to the vet is the best possible solution. He/she will figure out the problem and give you a suitable plan of action to resolve it. The vet can also treat any physical or cognitive problems much better than the owner.

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