At first glance, it’s a simple question. Maybe you’ve noticed your dog sleeping a lot, or seemingly barely sleeping at all.
How much do dogs sleep and is your dog getting the right amount of sleep?
You’ve wondered to yourself, “Is how much they’re sleeping normal?”
“Should I be worried about it?”
It turns out that the answer is a bit more complicated than you’d think. Like people, dogs’ sleeping habits vary. Their age, breed, and amount of activity in a day all contribute to how much snoozing they do.
So, is your dog getting the right amount of sleep? Read on, and find out!
Here’s the easy and quick answer to our ultimate question: On average, dogs sleep a total of 12 to 14 hours in a day. That’s a pretty broad average, though. How old your pet is can definitely influence the amount of sleep they’re getting.
Let’s start with puppies. Just like human babies, puppies need a lot of sleep – more than afully-grown dog does. This is when their growing brains and bodies develop, and it keeps their immune systems functioning properly too. Newborn puppies sleep almost the entire day, for about 22 hours. Older puppies (3+ months) will take naps more often than an adult dog, and will sleep around 16-18 hours a day. They also might wake up a couple of times a night to go to the bathroom.
Elderly dogs are similar. Because in these years they slow down, they’ll be sleeping a lot more than they did when they were in their prime. Your older dog may nap a lot, just like puppies do. Usually, they end up sleeping around 16-18 hours a day. Sometimes, they might not even be sleeping, but taking a rest that looks like sleep.
So, when should you be worried about your older dog sleeping too much? If you notice they’re sleeping even more than they should be, they could have something called hypothyroidism. This is when a dog’s thyroid isn’t working properly, and doesn’t make enough hormones for their metabolism to work fast. Some signs of this include seeking out warm places, avoiding exercise, and a dull coat. If you notice any of these symptoms along with excessive sleep, take your dog to the vet right away.
Is your dog bred to be more active, or are they more sedentary?
Is the breed smaller in size, or large?
All of these factors influence how much they sleep in a day?
If a dog was bred for hunting or police work, they’ll probably sleep less, even if they don’t do these things in their day-to-day life. Golden Retrievers or German Shepherds are good examples of breeds that need lots of physical activity, and less sleep. If your dog is a service dog, then they’ll definitely be getting less sleep – after all, they’ll be working all day!
Like we mentioned before, the size of the breed matters too. A large dog like a St. Bernard will tend to sleep more than a smaller one, like a Bichon. So, if you notice your big dog tends to sleep a lot, it’s usually not something you should stress too much about. What you should watch for is extreme changes in sleeping patterns. If a dog suddenly starts sleeping much more or less than they usually do, this could be a sign of underlying health problems.
All dogs need some sort of physical activity in their daily routine, and like people, exercise helps them regulate their energy and sleep patterns. Some dogs that don’t have very exciting daily routines might sleep more than normal to deal with the boredom. This is why making sure your dog gets enough exercise in a day is important! If your dog naps a lot during the day, they might end up getting restless at night. This will lead to them keeping you up, too, and you need your sleep just as much as they do!
Make sure you’re walking your dog every day to burn off some of their extra energy. This is especially important to do for very active dog breeds, or dogs that simply have a high-energy personality. Maybe you could take them to a dog park, or organize a “play date” with another dog that they get along with. Don’t tire them out too much, and be sure to have a lot of water on hand if they get thirsty from all the hard work. An older dog might tolerate long walks better than vigorous exercise, so keep this in mind before you take them out. Stick to a regular exercise routine, vary it up, and know their limits – they’ll be sleeping soundly at night in no time.
Other things to consider
Sometimes a dog’s diet might affect their sleeping, believe it or not. If their food has ingredients in it that they find hard to digest, they might need to sleep off a big meal. Their bodies are spending energy digesting their food, after all. Change their food again if they appear sluggish after eating a new food.
Watch for insomnia in dogs, too – it’s not that common on its own, but it can come along with other health problems. Allergies, kidney problems, thyroid problems, and arthritis can all keep your dog from getting a good night’s sleep.
Is your dog snoring very loudly, and very frequently? They could have sleep apnea, a condition that also affects humans. This means that they’re having trouble keeping a regular breathing rhythm while they sleep, and aren’t getting all the oxygen they need. They’ll stop breathing throughout the sleep cycle, and then wake themselves, causing the snoring and excessive sleepiness during the day.
Don’t diagnose your dog with problems yourself – be sure to always consult a veterinarian. They’re trained in recognizing health conditions in dogs, and who knows? Maybe something that you thought was very serious isn’t a problem at all. It’s always good to make sure you know what you’re facing before you jump to conclusions. It’ll make you feel a lot less nervous!
There you have it. Now you know a little more about dogs’ sleeping habits. We might not think of dogs as needing nearly as much sleep as cats, but their snooze time shouldn’t be overlooked! It’s amazing how similar our pets can be to us, isn’t it?