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Thread: Dog nightmares/sleepwalking?

  1. #1
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    Dog nightmares/sleepwalking?

    Hi, I am new here. After perusing your dog behavior forum, this seems like the best place to ask a question of this nature.

    We have a little beagle mix who is very old; she weighs around 25 pounds. I'm unsure exactly how old she is, we rescued her a couple of years ago from a very busy intersection where she was abandoned. The veterinarian said that she is at least 12 years old, maybe older. She has multiple old healed fractures, including fractures to her ribs, probably from being kicked; and one to her tail which the vet says could only be caused by someone picking her up and twirling her by her tail, then throwing her by her tail. It is his opinion that she had been severely abused by whoever had her before. For that reason, although we did look to see if anyone was trying to find her (no one was) we didn't even try to find her owner on our own, we just kept her.

    She's the sweetest little dog, very good around humans and other animals. We just love her to death, and she has become a very important and much loved part of our little family. We are middle aged, and our children are grown. We have two other dogs (a 3-year-old male Rott mix, which was another rescued dog, and a 16-year-old female cocker spaniel mix) and a 3-year-old tabby cat.

    However, this little beagle is the most feeble dog I have ever seen, far more feeble than the cocker spaniel. She still gets enjoyment out of eating though, and seems to enjoy the company of our other pets. She is quite attached to us mere humans, and she will follow me wherever I go, and always lays near me to nap. She moves very slowly, and it is hard for her to navigate the stairs, due to arthritis which the vet said probably resulted from the abuse. She is also a very quiet little dog, she doesn't even bark. She seems to have adjusted very well to our home, and to us. She is an inside dog, only goes outside to potty. The vet said that despite her being so feeble, she has a very good quality of life here with us so he thinks we should just make her as comfortable and happy as possible until she passes naturally, barring any unforeseen acute illnesses.

    She and the cocker spaniel sleep in our room with us, and they each have their own bed there. Several times since we got her, she has awakened in the middle of the night with a bone-chilling howl - she sounds like she is in severe pain - at which time she will start fast-walking, as fast as her little legs will carry her, around the house. We can't tell if she's looking for something, or if she's frightened, but she moves far, far more quickly than she normally does - faster than we even thought possible - navigates the stairs much more easily than usual, and she doesn't want to be touched. After the initial howling, she makes no noise. This will continue for as long as 30 minutes. Sometimes she will seem to go back to sleep, then do the same thing again. When this happens the other dogs are not reacting to anything except her behavior, so I don't think it's something in the house causing it. She only does this in the middle of the night, never during the day. We do have nightlights in our room, so the elderly dogs can still see in the darkness (the cocker spaniel is almost blind, and is completely deaf, so we do that for her benefit).

    Does anyone have any idea why she might be doing this? Could she be sleepwalking? Can dogs have nightmares of things which have happened to them, given that she was so horribly abused before we got her? Could she be looking for (or running from) her old owner? Or is there another possible explanation for it? Our vet is at a loss as to why this would be happening.

    Any help will be appreciated. We want only what is best for this little dog, but at this point we are unsure what to do for her when she does this.

    Thanks in advance for any insights!

  2. #2
    Watanya Cecilia valerie's Avatar
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    Re: Dog nightmares/sleepwalking?

    Hi Ap and welcome.

    I think there are a couple of different things you could try for this.
    When dogs get to be seniors, they can have some of the same sorts
    of things going on as human seniors do. I don't know, either, really
    what could be "causing" this but I don't think either you or your
    poor doggers have to live with it.

    You said she has arthritis, is she on any pain meds for this? If not, I
    would talk to your vet and start them. Tramadol is a good, inexpensive,
    fairly widely tolerated one.

    The other thing to try is a crate for her. You might balk at putting your
    girl in a "cage" but it might make her feel a lot more secure at night,
    and safe where nothing can get to her. I would try one of those plastic
    airline type crates, and put her soft bed in it.

    Or, go back to puppy methods. The hot (not too hot!) water bottle and
    the ticking clock placed next to her. Also, an article of clothing (old,
    soft t-shirt perhaps?) that you've worn a bit and not laundered. Your
    scent on it might comfort her.

    Give her lots of muzzle kisses from me and do let us know how it goes!

    Good luck!
    Tamsen's Dogster Page
    http://www.dogster.com/?27525


  3. #3
    Senior Member moonpie's Avatar
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    Re: Dog nightmares/sleepwalking?

    I just remembered that a friend of mine put her aged dog on glucosamine for arthritis and it really really helped the poor old senior dog. Just regular glucosamine that you can get pretty well everywhere. Good luck.

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    Re: Dog nightmares/sleepwalking?

    Thanks for the speedy response!

    Yes, she does take Tramadol. It doesn't seem to help much, though of course without it she could be in much worse shape.

    I would try the crate (I have several for the critters, and they are wonderful for making them feel more secure) except that she has a kidney dysfunction which causes her to drink a great deal of water (yes, even in the middle of the night). The vet says she is cleansing her own body of contaminants with the excessive amounts of water, so it's especially important for her health to allow her unlimited access to large amounts of water. Problem is, because she drinks so much more than the typical dog, she has to be able to relieve herself at night as well as during the day. She is trained to use a box similar to a cat box during the night, but couldn't do that if she is crated. Otherwise it's a great idea though.

    All of our dogs sleep with a piece of our clothing to make them feel secure, which they seem to like, but I haven't tried the hot water bottle trick. I'll give that a whirl, and see if it helps.

    Thanks again!

  5. #5
    Senior Member Pheasy's Avatar
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    Re: Dog nightmares/sleepwalking?

    I hope you manage to find the answer for her

    Welcome to FG
    Last edited by Pheasy; 05-09-2008 at 09:08 AM.

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    Re: Dog nightmares/sleepwalking?

    Quote Originally Posted by moonpie View Post
    I just remembered that a friend of mine put her aged dog on glucosamine for arthritis and it really really helped the poor old senior dog. Just regular glucosamine that you can get pretty well everywhere. Good luck.
    Can Glucosamine be mixed with Tramadol and Benadryl (the vet told us to give her Benadryl for itching, she has skin allergies)?

    If so, I'll get some today, perhaps that will give her some extra pain relief. Thanks very much!

  7. #7
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    Re: Dog nightmares/sleepwalking?

    Quote Originally Posted by ThePheasant View Post
    I hope you manage to find the answer for her

    Welcome to FG
    Thanks, I hope so too!

  8. #8
    Watanya Cecilia valerie's Avatar
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    Re: Dog nightmares/sleepwalking?

    Glucosamine is good for joint support, but it can be a little hard on
    older tummies so I would give it with a small amount of food. (And
    yes, you can give it in addition to the others)

    Didn't realize that about the needing to "go" at night, but you
    definitely don't want to stop that, it is very good for her to be
    able to flush stuff through her system.

    You sound like an experienced dog mom, sure glad that girl found
    you!!

    What's her name?

    Tamsen's Dogster Page
    http://www.dogster.com/?27525


  9. #9
    Watanya Cecilia valerie's Avatar
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    Re: Dog nightmares/sleepwalking?

    There is a user here "Red Glitter" who might have some more ideas
    for you, she's an experienced dog mom, too!!

    Tamsen's Dogster Page
    http://www.dogster.com/?27525


  10. #10
    Senior Member moonpie's Avatar
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    Re: Dog nightmares/sleepwalking?

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    Quote Originally Posted by AppalachianLady View Post
    Can Glucosamine be mixed with Tramadol and Benadryl (the vet told us to give her Benadryl for itching, she has skin allergies)?

    If so, I'll get some today, perhaps that will give her some extra pain relief. Thanks very much!
    I think I would check with my vet on that just to be on the safe side before you get any. By the way welcome to FG, I hope you enjoy it.

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