Something you quickly notice when you’re the owner or caregiver of a variety of animals is they all have their own sleep patterns, preferences and routines.
Our chinchilla often chooses to sleep during the morning and throughout some of the night, but he is playful in the afternoon. Our cats sleep for about two-thirds of the day, and although they cuddle with us or play with us on some days more than others, they typically follow the same routine.
Our Betta Fish even had their own obscure sleeping schedule, so it’s not out of the question to assume that dogs have their own type of sleep schedule.
Knowing an animal’s sleeping schedule is essential, primarily because changes in a dog’s routine can signify that something is wrong.
Similar to humans, the amount of sleep a dog requires will vary based on factors such as age, breed, size, and activity level. Due to the number of variables, you might want to check ask your vet for some help knowing, though keeping an eye out on your dog and their behaviour will give you a good idea as to where their health is at.
A change in the length of sleep a dog needs can be the first indicator that something is wrong or that your dog is feeling off, so never hesitate to give your vet a call if you notice any sleeping changes.
So let’s break down some of the different factors that will influence your dog’s sleeping patterns and how these factors may directly affect your dog.
HOW LONG DOES THE TYPICAL ADULT DOG SLEEP?
Although, as mentioned, a dog’s need for sleep will depend on a variety of factors, the average dog will sleep for about half of their day.
Note that although a dog will sleep for about 50% of the day, a dog will still spend up to 30% of the day being lazy or lying around the home while only being active for about 20%. An adult dog may sleep or remain relatively inactive for 12-14 hours a day on average.
As a dog ages, the dog may require more sleep than they did while they were a few years prior. A senior dog’s sleeping habits sit closer to a puppy’s, although energy at this age highly depends on the overall health
Dogs who expend a consistent and regular amount of energy or are suffering from severe or severe medical conditions may require up to 20-hours of sleep a day.
DO LARGE BREEDS SLEEP MORE THAN SMALL BREEDS?
Large breed dogs will typically need more sleep than small breed dogs simply based on the fact that large breed dogs tend to be more active and large breeds have to grow more.
DO DOGS EXPERIENCE RAPID EYE MOVEMENT (REM SLEEP)?
Yes, just like cats and humans, dogs will experience rapid eye movement when they are in a deep sleep state.
Rapid Eye Movement usually occurs for a dog about 10 minutes into their deep sleep, though this may depend on the dog’s surroundings.
Dogs are relatively light sleepers and may jump at the sound of something moving or may wake up abruptly, seemingly for no reason. In reality, a dog will only spend 10 percent of their time sleeping.
A pet parent will be able to tell whether their dog is experiencing REM sleep by checking their dog’s eyes for any movement. Eyes may appear to shift back and forth at a quick pace while the dog’s eyelids remain shut.
SOMETIMES MY DOG SHAKES WHILE THEY SLEEP, WHY?
While it can be concerning when your dog moves or shakes in their sleep, it is not always a concern.
Although we are not entirely sure what dogs dream about, vets are individual dogs do dream, similar to cats. Vets are also confident that sometimes dogs’ dreams are incredibly vivid, causing the dog to act out their dream or react with small motions.
If ever you notice your dog excessively moving in their sleep or are concerned that the amount of movement/type of movement your dog engages in while sleeping, it is strongly recommended that you consult a vet.
In some cases, movement in a dog’s sleep can be a sign of a problem in the brain, such as a tumour or another form of damage. Brain conditions can result in seizures and are more common for some breeds of dogs. Unfortunately, in cases where a brain condition is involved, a pet parent may have to act quickly to aide the problem, or it will progress rapidly.
It is always a good idea to keep a log or a journal of your dog’s sleep habits, especially if irregularities or changes are recent.
Keeping a running record is a great practice and can often come in handy when trying to recollect events to a vet.
REASONS A DOG MAY NEED TO SLEEP MORE
It can be concerning when you notice that your dog is sleeping more than usual. If ever you notice your dog is sleeping or being inactive for 15 or more hours, make sure that you contact the vet for a checkup.
EATING A LOW-QUALITY DIET
It’s shocking how important diet is in every living being’s life. Just like humans, dogs require a specific diet to get all of the nutrients they need to live healthily and survive.
When fed lower-quality diets, dogs may experience difficulty properly digesting the ingredients causing them to need extra sleep.
Think about times you ate a lot of pizza or dense starch foods; you probably felt exhausted after, right? The same can be said about your dog when they eat foods with fillers such as wheat.
Now, does this mean that your dog has to eat the most expensive food? No. Good quality foods do not need to be costly, and often your vet will have a few brands of food to recommend that won’t break your wallet.
I would also make sure you’re doing a bit of reading up on the foods you are thinking of feeding your dog. Chances are someone has written about their experiences on their food or has some insight on whether a food has been known to create lethargic dogs.
LIFE CHANGES THAT CAUSE STRESS
Dogs, similar to you and me, can experience stress.
Stress inducers can include but are not limited to other animals in the household, a change in furniture placement, the absence of an owner, a sudden change in the environment or food, or constant noise.
It’s important to remember that dogs can hear better than we do and at much higher frequencies. So, you may notice your dog looking around for an inaudible noise, or they may bark seemingly at nothing.
Dogs who experience a higher amount of stress may be seen trying to sleep more as a result.
HOT WEATHER AND/OR DEHYDRATION
Summer months can be quite detrimental to dogs, especially when they are playing outdoors.
Always make sure that you keep a very close eye on your dog to make sure that they are getting enough water, shade and potentially a cool area to sleep on.
In summer months, dogs tend to prefer floors like tile as they remain cooler than carpet and hardwood. If you do not have access to a cool floor, I would strongly recommend grabbing yourself a cooling mat.
Do not give your dog ice cubes in the summer, especially if they are experiencing extreme heat-related problems. Ice in situations where a dog is overheating can be life-threatening, and instead, a vet should be contacted for IV fluids and further treatment.
Dehydration can also be caused by non-heat related causes such as vomiting, diarrhea, excessive drooling or excessive panting. In all situations, it is strongly recommended that you monitor your dog for any changes in behaviour, and if any of the conditions last more than a few hours, contact your vet immediately.
In mild cases, vomiting and diarrhea should clear up by itself, but if left untreated, the condition may become chronic.
LONGTERM HEALTH CONDITIONS
Dogs are susceptible to a series of health conditions that can cause them to become lethargic or will require them to get more sleep.
Some of these conditions can include kidney/renal failure, diabetes, Lyme disease, depression hyperthyroidism, and arthritis.
Although senior dogs are more likely to experience long-term health problems, some breeds are more likely to suffer diseases such as diabetes.
It’s a good idea to ask your vet about potential health risks your dog can have based on their breed. Asking a vet can help you decide what food is the best to feed your dog and will help you decern whether or not you have to change aspects of your dog’s lifestyles, such as exercise.
Lack of exercise can also add to the lethargy causing a dog to become depressed and overall inactive.
Make sure that you are regularly taking your dog out for walks and that you include a part of the day where your dog can run around and tire themselves out. Dogs who get less exercise not only act more slothlike, but they also tend to have a higher chance of developing long-term health problems.
Chances are if your dog is sleeping between 12-14 hours, everything is A-Okay with their health; however, if there are ever any chances with your dog’s behaviour, keep a very close eye on your dog.
If the need for extra sleep comes from an underlying health condition, there is a chance that the situation will rapidly worsen. In many cases, with a diet change and help from the vet, a longterm health condition can be prevented if not kept in check.
If ever your dog’s sleeping patterns change suddenly, always try to investigate what changes may have recently happened in your dog’s life to make them require more sleep. In all cases where you are unsure, make sure you consult your vet as being safe is much better than being sorry.
So pet parents, I’m curious, how long do your little ones sleep? Have you ever had any concerned about the amount they sleep? Let me know in the comments below!