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Ask Our Experts: Barking In the Middle of the Night

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Posted by Dr. Nina on Dec 02 2011

Question: Quincy, my 14-year-old Golden Retriever, has been barking and pacing in the middle of the night. No one is getting any sleep! What’s going on?

Answer: Having cared for an elderly dog who behaved much like yours, I can really empathize! What you are experiencing is not uncommon in geriatric dogs. Assuming your dog seems fairly normal in the rest of his activities, it sounds very much like he is experiencing cognitive dysfunction. This means that his brain is aging, and much like an elderly person, he may experience confusion and disruptions of his sleep cycle. Speak to your veterinarian, because there are several options for dogs with cognitive dysfunction – ranging from special diets to medications.

Expect your veterinarian to perform a thorough physical exam, and what we call geriatric blood work (typically a chemistry screen, complete blood count, and urinalysis), to rule out any other health problems that may be contributing to his change in behavior. Good luck, and hopefully with the help of your veterinarian, you will have some relief to your sleepless nights!