What Can I Give My Dog to Make Him Sleep? | AuthorityDog

What Can I Give My Dog to Make Him Sleep?

You may have many best friends, but your dog only has one.

Is your best friend suffering from lack of sleep? Sleeplessness in dogs can occur when their daily routines have been disrupted, and usually only results in a mild behavior problem (along with sleeplessness, your dog may experience “accidents,” or show obvious signs of nervousness). Hopefully, this is only temporary. Also, as dogs get older they may have trouble sleeping – just like elderly humans – and an occasional night without sleep is harmless. If your dog has trouble sleeping often, it’s time to examine causes and treatment.

Ready? Let's start


Why Can’t My Dog Sleep?

There’s a good chance if your dog isn’t sleeping well, he or she is keeping you awake, too. Possible causes of sleeplessness in dogs include:

  • Allergies
  • Anxiety, stress
  • Apnea​​​
  • Arthritis​​​​
  • Dementia
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    Hip dysplasia
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    Kidney problems
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    Lack of exercise
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    Prescribed medicines
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    Thyroid problems
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    Unseen injury
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    Urinary incontinence

You or a family member may have suffered from sleepwalking. There can be many funny stories about sleepwalkers, but it can also be a very dangerous condition. Dr. M.A. Crist, Clinical Assistant Professor at Texas A&M College of Veterinary Medicine, says, “The two sleeping disorders that are most dangerous to an animal’s health are narcolepsy and cataplexy. Narcolepsy is the occurrence of uncontrollable Rapid Eye Movement (REM) sleep phase characterized by the presence of rapid eye movements and fast phase activity. Cataplexy is the sudden development of rapid duration voluntary muscle weakness, flaccidity, or paralysis of all muscles except extraocular and respiratory muscles.

These two sleep disorders are usually a congenital/inherited condition that can be brought on by excitement such as playing, eating, drinking, or greeting owners and can last seconds to minutes, many times a day, or infrequently.”

With narcolepsy, your pet seems to be asleep but with cataplexy the dog is alert but appears “spaced-out,” with unfocused eyes. You can “bring your pet back” with petting, talking, or making loud noises.

How Can I Make My Dog Sleep?

First, you have to determine the underlying condition. In other words, if your dog isn’t sleeping well because he or she isn’t getting enough exercise, you must add that to your daily routine. If you’re unable to do it yourself, there are more dog walking services than ever!

Contact one near your home, because exercise is our bodies’ natural relaxer.What other symptoms of illness does your dog exhibit? Other indicators that your dog may be in pain or is suffering from a medical problem can include:

  • Anxiety
  • AgitationLabored or increased breathing rate
  • Restlessness
  • Tremors
  • Vocalization (whining)

Once you’ve determined your dog is relatively healthy and only suffering from insomnia, there are several things you can do. Homeopathic anti-anxiety medications often work for humans and dogs. Valerian root is a sedative and anti-anxiety herb that is safe for all of us except pregnant people/dogs.

Some pet owners swear by hypnosis to relieve pet stress. After you’ve researched dog hypnosis if you think it’s a viable option to help your dog sleep, discuss it with your veterinarian.Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) is not uncommon in humans and dogs. One of the causes is obesity so that a weight-loss diet may be helpful.

Change your dog’s bedding.

If your elderly dog is suffering from arthritis or joint pain, a softer bed can help by reducing the number of pressure points and increasing circulation. You might put a few drops of lavender oil on or near the bedding for additional relaxation effects.

Why Can’t My Dog Sleep?

Feed your dog milk

People often give their children a cup of warm milk before bedtime to help make them sleepy. Warm milk will be similarly effective for your dog. This is because milk contains a chemical called tryptophan, which is known for promoting sleep. A quarter cup of warm milk should do it. However, not all dogs are lactose tolerant. If milk causes issues with their digestion, you'll want to skip this particular remedy.

Use Comfort Zone Adaptil

Comfort Zone Adaptil is a pheromone product that replicates the "no fear" chemical signal that female dogs produce when they are nursing their litter. It works especially well on recently adopted dogs who may be scared of their new surroundings. Comfort Zone Adaptil is available in three different forms, including an odorless vapor, a spray, and a collar.


Many pet owners choose melatonin over chemical alternatives simply due to the natural properties of melatonin. In many cases, this medication can help some issues including anxieties, phobias, and sleep issues.

There are a few things to consider before you administer melatonin to help your dog sleep. Melatonin has not been FDA approved for use in animals, and there haven't been many studies to fully research potential side effects. While occurrences may be rare, it is possible for melatonin to adversely affect the health and well being of your beloved pooch.

In rare cases, your dog may experience side effects from this medication, like loss of fertility. If you use melatonin to make your dog sleep, it's important to watch for any signs of distress or side effects including:

  • Confusion
  • Itching
  • Rapid Heart Rate
  • Digestion and Gastric Issues

It's important to speak with your veterinarian to see if melatonin is a good fit for you and your dog. They can help you determine the safest dosages based on your dog's size, breed, age, and other important factors to help make your dog sleep.

Good fit for you and your dog. They can help you determine the safest dosages based on your dog's size, breed, age, and other important factors to help make your dog sleep.


In some cases, you'll need something more than a natural or holistic approach. Benadryl offers safe, sedative effects for canines and may be the right option for your sleep-less four-legged companion. It's important to speak with your vet for recommendations on specific brands and dosage before giving your dog any kind of medication. 

With your vet's approval, you can give your sleep-less canine companion Benadryl for up to two weeks without the risk of any serious side effects. This medication can help treat some issues with your dog including:

  • Excessive Barking
  • Anxiety
  • Constant Paw Licking
  • Sleeplessness and Insomnia

                     And More!

The Most Important Question to Ask

Never let canine sleep insomnia continue for any length of time. One key to your pet’s healthy sleep habits is proper training during puppyhood.

Whether or not your pet sleeps with you is a personal preference, but once your routine is established, changing it may upset your pet’s emotional balance enough that sleeplessness or other symptoms of nervousness present themselves.

And remember, your dog is a reflection of your energy and behavior. Most of the time, when your pet has a problem, you can address it by asking, “What am I doing?”**

Cesar Millan