Our dog loves peeing in the moonlight
October 11, 2021 9:48 AM   Subscribe

Senior dog has been waking us up in the middle of the night to go out. This is not ideal. Help.

Our 14 (15?) year old chihuahua has been waking us up in the middle of the night to go out. He had a full check up with blood work etc in the spring when this started and all was good. Vet also said he did not have a UTI.

The thing is that he can go 10, 12 hours without going out. It seems like he's just got his schedule flipped, to the detriment of everyone else's sleep schedule. He seems to sleep okay at night-- I mean, he sleeps pretty much all the time, so.

We've switched from feeding him in the evening to feeding him around noon, but we leave his food out and he'll often get hungry later in the evening and eat then as well-- I'm hesitant to take his food away because it can be hard to get him to eat enough. We could start taking away his water in the evening, though it seems a little mean.

We take him out right before bed every night. He sleeps in the bedroom with us.

Any ideas?
posted by geegollygosh to Pets & Animals (10 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
We've been trying to get our senior dog out for more walks (sometimes more like "stand and smell the air," because old) during the day, and when we can it seems like she sleeps through the night better.
posted by chesty_a_arthur at 9:58 AM on October 11

My senior dog needs pee pads now in addition to all the walks. Sometimes we see in the morning that it's been used at night. She doesn't use it every day, but having it available is just one of those things that goes with aging I think.. and it was very very easy to train her to use it. I just had her pee on one outside during a walk, brought it in and put it in the basement and showed it to her with encouraging words and a treat.
posted by nantucket at 10:03 AM on October 11 [5 favorites]

One of my dogs is a cocker spaniel mix, she's very protective and always perks up on unusual sounds. She also does this same urgent gottagooutsidenownowNOW at ungodly hours and I think sometimes it is because she hears something in the backyard and wants to investigate.

Perhaps try running a fan or some kind of masking noise overnight and see if that helps?
posted by JoeZydeco at 10:25 AM on October 11

Is your dog consuming more water than usual? If so, I'd go back to the vet. (With our dog, the first sign of "age" was that she couldn't hold it overnight any longer, and a few months later she started needing more frequent walks during the day too. Eventually she was diagnosed with diabetes, which of course may not be the case with your dog, but it took us quite a few rounds of testing to get there.)
posted by sm1tten at 11:32 AM on October 11 [1 favorite]

Did your vet mention sundowner syndrome? Something similar has been going on with my dog too. It's a kind of dementia common in older dogs, and a change in sleep-awake cycles is quite common. As far I understand, there isn't really a simple solution, because your dog isn't responding to specific issues or needs. At the very least, it might be helpful to think of this as cognitive decline rather than something in the environment you need to fix.

Maybe try tiring him out with a slightly longer walk, especially in the evening. I sometimes give him melatonin. The linked article has some other suggestions, and you might google around as well. I don't think changing when you feed him or give him water is going to do it, because I think he's confused. Our poor old dogs.
posted by bluedaisy at 3:26 PM on October 11 [2 favorites]

It may just be biology and he needs less time to pass between bathroom breaks now. That's a change that can happen precipitously and without any pathology in all animals (including humans and dogs). Have to tried one of the many actual turf pee pads to see if they give him the outdoorsy signal when he needs it?
posted by late afternoon dreaming hotel at 5:55 PM on October 11

Response by poster: Yeah, bluedaisy, I had seen the dementia link. I think that may be at least part of it. Tbh, our schedule has been a little out of whack anyway since I started wfh during covid, so maybe I need to really buckle down on a strict walk schedule and see if that helps.

Pee pads are the last resort if nothing else works. I just think they'd be a little gross in a small apartment like we have. I like the actual sod options though, I didn't know about those!
posted by geegollygosh at 7:17 PM on October 11

Has your pup been anxious at all, or panting? Or does he startle more easily? I'm asking I was thinking about this very thread at 2:30am when my little terrier mix was panting and wanting to go outside. He had been out around 11, but was insistent. It's been really tough, but it hasn't been consistent. Sometimes he sleeps fine, or he'll go back to sleep if I pet him a little bit. He's losing some hearing and sight, which is why he startles and why he's more anxious (according to the vet).

I've also been working from home, and my dog hangs out with me pretty much all day now... but also needs to follow me everywhere. Like, he'll paw at the bathroom door when I go to pee if he isn't in there. I don't know how much of this is dementia and how much is weird Covid schedule changes.

I read online that senior food might help, so I'll give that a try. Please do update if you get any more information!
posted by bluedaisy at 10:23 AM on October 12 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: bluedaisy, we did try senior dog food without it helping. Fingers crossed it will help your little guy! Ours is losing hearing as well but I actually think he's calmer now than he used to be-- it can be pretty loud on our street and now the sound doesn't bother him.

No anxiety that I see when he wakes up. He has definitely developed some seperation anxiety since I'm home all the time now.
posted by geegollygosh at 1:42 PM on October 12

Our dog Frankie is now 14 and went through a phase of waking up and peeing on the bedroom floor in the middle of the night. These bladder health treats solved that issue. I didn't really suspect a UTI because her daily peeing remained at normal amounts and times. This supplement helped with the overnight... sensitivity? Not exactly sure what was going on but they did help.
posted by oneirodynia at 8:00 PM on October 13

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