DOG SLEEP AID: WHEN TO USE AND WHICH ONE TO BUY?
If your dog is too excited to fall asleep, has disrupted biorhythms or wakes up during the night, your sleep is also affected. Understanding the underlying causes of your dog’s sleep disturbances is important for finding a solution.
UNDERLYING CAUSES OF SLEEP DISTURBANCES
Some of the most popular causes of dog sleep disturbances can be grouped in the following categories:
- Direct general causes such as insomnia, agitation, anxiety, stress. Natural sleeping aids can be safe and effective solutions for those.
- Old-age-related melatonin deficiency: with aging, melatonin production declines. Supplementation with Melatonin can help.
- Side effects of medical conditions such as diabetes, hyperthyroidism, and urinary tract infections. If that is the case, consult your vet.
- Need to pee during the night caused by drinking too much water before sleeping. Limit water intake 2 hours before sleep time (note, dogs with heart disease or diabetes mellitus, should not have their water restricted)
ORAL SEDATIVES FOR DOGS
Vets sometimes prescribes oral sedatives for dogs, but these can have undesirable side effects:
- Acepromazine, a sedative with inconsistent onset and duration that may not work for all dogs. Potential side effects include low blood pressure and risk of seizures.
- Phenobarbital and Gabapentin, anti-seizure medications producing sedation as a side effect. There could be multiple adverse side effects including weight gain, increased urination and anxiety.
NATURAL SLEEPING AIDS FOR DOGS
Whenever available, I always choose the natural alternatives to medicines. The following ingredients are typically used to help with sleep:
- Melatonin - a hormone produced by the pineal gland in the brain, playing a crucial role for causing and regulating sleep. Melatonin is an absolute must for any sleep aid. Serving size is 3mg for dogs under 30lbs. and 6mg for the rest
- L-Tryptophan – an amino acid used by the body as a building block for the production of melatonin and serotonin, via which L-Tryptophan benefits sleep, cognition and mood
- L-Theanine – an amino acid promoting relaxation and anxiety reduction
- Ashwagandha – a powerful medicinal herb that has no equal in reducing levels of the stress hormone cortisol. Elevated cortisol levels could disrupt the natural wake-sleep cycle
- Valerian root – a natural sedative with anti-spasmodic and mild pain-relieving properties. Helps in relaxing during physical pain, nervous anxiety and stomach upset by anxiety
- Passion Flower has calming properties and is often used for insomnia
- Lemon Balm is a plant in the mint family that calms the nerves and helps the body relax, reduces agitation and aggression and reduces the time to fall asleep
- Chamomile eases anxiety and depression, alleviates mild GI upset and reduces night-time waking up significantly
- Ginger root acts as a mild sedative and effectively helps falling into a deep, peaceful sleep. May help reduce anxiety driven nightmares
Melatonin is an absolute must when it comes to natural dog sleep aids. It is sold as a separate pet supplement, but it lacks the additional sleep-related and general health benefits provided by the other, above mentioned ingredients. If you are on a budget, Melatonin could be a good choice, but if you can spare a little more, it may be better to get a more complete sleep aid.
If you look for a Dog Sleep Aid on Amazon, you’ll find many Calming Aid supplements in the search results. As their names suggest, these are Calming Aids, not Sleep Aids. Generally, they are not formulated for sleep, do not have the sedative effect required to induce sleep and lack Melatonin or provide insufficient amounts.
DR. OSCAR SLEEP AID FOR DOGS
Dr. Oscar Sleep Aid for Dogs is formulated with the aim of providing a complete sleep care. Its tasty chewable tablets include Melatonin, L-Tryptophan, L-Theanine, Organic Ashwagandha, Organic Valerian Root, Organic Passion Flower, Organic Lemon Balm, Organic Chamomile and Organic Ginger, making it probably the best sleeping aid for dogs. You can find it on this website or Amazon.