Senior Dog Night Waking / Pacing

Written by: Dr. Jean Hofve, Holistic Veterinarian, DVM


I was wondering if you could help us with our 14 year old yorkie that weighs about 6 lbs. The past couple of years he has been waking up 2-4 times a night. We usually let him outside to go to the bathroom and then he will not settle down until we give him a treat. Of course, I know we started something with the treats but at this point it seems impossible to stop. We have tried. We get no sleep. I would like to know if you know of anything that we could give him at night that perhaps would help him to sleep through the night.  Our vet told us that they do not usually like to prescribe anything for dogs his age because they may not wake up. However, I was reading about some all natural product you sell for anxiety and would like to know if you think it may be worth a try. Sleepless in Cincinnati. Thank you.


The problem you describe with your senior yorkie is very common in older dogs.  I typically use a variety of remedies to help, but there is really no way to know which will work best for your individual companion without trying one or more.  The following are some geriatric support and stess and anxiety support supplements you could try:

  • Doc Ackerman’s Herbal Nerve & Anxiety Formula an herbal complex with a calming effect this would also be given an hour or so before bed
  • Animals’ Apawthecary Tranquility Blend similar to the Nerve & Anxiety formula above except in a liquid rather than a powder.
  • Astra Essence from Health Concerns is a good general Chinese herbal tonic which can help with cognitive decline and frequent urination.  This is a large tablet that would need to be broken into smaller pieces as you would begin with ¼ tablet per day and work up to a larger dose of up to 1 tablet 2 times per day if need be.  (This is a tonic herb – best given daily on a regular, long-term basis).
  • Pet Naturals of Vermont Calming Formula is liquid neutraceutical that contains a combination of vitamins and nutrients that we have seen some good results with in small dogs and cats with anxiety issues.
  • Homeopet Anxiety is a homeopathic remedy that can help calm stressed or confused animals.

Please keep in mind that there is no way to know which remedy will work for your companion, you just have to give one a try and if it does not work, then try a different type.  It is best to give each remedy at least two weeks to decide if it is providing the desired effect before stopping and trying another.  (Unless of course you see side effects such as vomiting or diarrhea, then stop or reduce dosage right away).  Sometimes a combination of two or more remedies is necessary to get the full effect desired. 

Melatonin is sometimes an option as well, but a consultation with a holistic veterinarian to discuss dosage and the overall health of the animal would be a good idea before starting melatonin.  You might take a look at the article Supporting Your Aging Companion for additional information about helping your dog through his senior years.