Have you ever looked at your dog and thought how lovely it must be to be a dog? When they wake up in the morning, stretch, go play for a bit, come inside take a nap, eat, take another nap, go outside play, eat, take a nap, and then it is time for bed again. Dogs do need more sleep than humans.
There are a few factors that play into how much sleep a dog should need on a daily basis. Like activity level, age, heath, breed, size, weight, environment, and quality of sleep.
Most average healthy dogs will sleep about half of their day. So roughly about 12 hours in a 24 hour period. Of course there are other factors that go into this time but it is on average half their day. In larger breeds they can sometimes need 18 hours of sleep because it is just more work to move their bodies around to do normal tasks. Uses up more energy that they get back from sleeping. After your dog sleeps for half their day, they then may only play or be active for 5 of the remaining hours. The rest of the day is for lounging around, laying but not asleep, or cuddling. This is the time where they aren’t sleeping but they aren’t being active. It is natural for dogs to conserve their energy. This conservation of energy lets them be ready to hunt, play, and socialize. Most dogs who are pets don’t have to hunt for their foods, but some dogs still have that hunting instinct in them.
Puppies need about 20 hours of sleep until they are 12 weeks old. Puppies will sleep more during the day than they do at night. This is sometimes a rough adjustment for new dog owners, so getting your puppy on a sleep schedule can be essential when getting to sleep through the night. Puppies will sleep for long stretches of time, more than an adult dog will.
Senior dogs need more sleep as well. It takes them longer to recover from exerting any kind of energy. Senior dogs may also be dealing with joint pain which can also cause them to be sleepier during the day. An older dog may need 15 hours of sleep per day.
There are some factors that can affect your dog’s sleep schedule. One is if you have brought a new pet into the home recently. A younger puppy, or a small kitten may pester your dog and cause them to not be able to find a place to relax and sleep. Hot weather can affect your dog’s sleep. If it is extremely hot and your dog is outside a lot, keep an eye out for heat exhaustion which can make your dog very lethargic, have excessive drooling, or vomit. A schedule change with you can affect your dog’s sleep. If you have recently gotten a new job that you are either up earlier, or home later, can cause your dog to be off their normal sleep pattern. If a dog is left at home too long by themselves they may become bored and lonely which can also lead to longer sleeping times. A playtime increase can also cause your dog to be more tired during the day. This could be if you started taking longer walks at the end of the day or they have been going to a doggie day care that keeps them more active during the day.
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There are a couple of sleep disorders that can occur in your dog. Canine narcolepsy is one of these disorders. It causes daytime sleepiness with cataplexy. Cataplexy is episodes where the muscles weaken and your dog may just fall over. Canine narcolepsy is not curable. In severe cases it can be treated with medications, but many cases don’t need treatment or intervention. Just like humans, dogs can get Obstructive Sleep Apnea. This happens when tissue or muscle is relaxed and blocks the airway. It causes moments of breathlessness. This condition is more common in dogs with short muzzles, such as bull dogs. Obstructive Sleep Apnea can cause daytime sleepiness, as well as snoring or choking noises during sleep. It can be treated with medication or surgery. Another sleep disorder that could affect your dog is REM sleep behavior disorder. Rapid eye movement (REM) sleep behavior disorder causes abnormal movements during the REM cycle. These abnormal movements are usually barking or howling, chewing or biting, or violent limb movements. Symptoms for this condition usually start around 1 year old. There are medications that can help with this condition.
It is important to know how much your dog sleeps during the day so you can make sure their sleep doesn’t all of a sudden increase. If you know your dog has a three hour nap in the morning that all of a sudden switches to a five hour nap in the morning and there has been no increase in activity or change in schedule you will want to speak with your veterinarian. Increases in your dog’s sleep can be signs of an underlying condition. These conditions include diabetes, kidney disease, hypothyroidism, heart disease, or arthritis. If your dog is hard to wake, can’t be motivated to wake up, or is hard to keep awake those are all signs to get to the veterinarian. Your veterinarian may want you to keep a sleep log of your dog so they can analyze it when you come in for your visit.
There are some things you can do at home to make sure your dog is getting the best sleep they can. The first is to make sure you have a sleep schedule or routine. Dog’s like routine and get set into schedules whether you think they do or not. Having a normal time of going to sleep and waking up can help your dog learn when to have their long sleep times and when to have naps during the day. Another thing to do is to sleep along. Allowing your pet to sleep in your bed does not always allow you or your pet to get the best quality of sleep. Make your dog’s bed super comfy and to their liking. Give them a spot that is all their own. With soft blankets, comfy pillow, big space for them to sprawl out, or a small little bed for them to curl up in. Their bed should give them both comfort and support. Wherever your dog is sleeping make sure it is quiet and dark. Just like humans, dogs can wake up from noise or light that disrupts their natural sleep cycle. Daily exercise can be essential for your dog to be tired enough to get good quality sleep. Allow your dog time to relax. This can be making sure they are in familiar territory without anyone new around them for part of the day.
Most healthy average dogs sleep half their day. There are lots of factors that go into how much your specific dog will need to sleep during the day. Learning their sleep schedule can help you distinguish if there are any changes that could be an underlying condition that is more serious. If you have any thoughts your dog is sleeping too much you should speak with your veterinarian.