Ahhhhhhh, sleep. Who doesn’t wish they could have a day off every now and then for themselves where we could do nothing but sleep and relax all day long? Just this morning I was beating myself up because of my bad sleeping habits as of late … but I digress!
So, you’re here because you’re afraid that your dog is sleeping too much, right? And you’re probably wondering why do dogs sleep so much, right? Truth be told, people often make a big deal out of this for no reason most of the times, where they think that their dog is sleeping much more than it should be, while their dog’s sleeping habits are just fine for their age and activity level. This is especially seen in new(er) dog owners who have less experience around dogs than people who have been around dogs for longer periods of time and are already familiar with these things. Fact of the matter is, dogs sleep more (much more, in fact) than we humans do, and in different forms.
So, is your dog sleeping too much? Is there anything you have to worry about? Let’s find out!
How Much Do Dogs Sleep?
Dogs generally sleep more than people do, but they also wake up more frequently than we do. On average, dogs sleep for 12 to 14 hours every 24 hours. But, that’s just a rough estimate, and exceptions exist (like everything else in life). For example, very active dogs (like puppies, who use a lot more energy than more mature dogs to explore, discover and gain the experience they need in life) may require up to 18-20 hours of sleep every 24 hours. Sheesh, 18-20 hours of sleep a day, no wonder some people might think their furry buddies are not alright!
Now, exactly how much dogs sleep varies from dog to dog, and there is no “one size fits all” answer to that question. So, here are a few factors that will determine how much your dog sleeps throughout the day.
- Activity level: A big part of the equation that determines how many hours your dog generally sleeps is their activity levels throughout the day. Dogs that lay around the house all day long tend to sleep more than dogs who lead an active lifestyle, especially dogs that are put to work by their owners (such as police dogs). The reason is that dogs that don’t have a lot to do during the day and just lay around the house doing nothing will tend to sleep just because there’s not much else to do. Think about it. If you didn’t have any work to do, all your friends and family members were busy with their own life-events at the time, and you didn’t have anything specific in mind to take up on, what are you most likely to do? That’s right, sleep. You’re most likely to sleep because there’s just nothing else to do, and the same holds true for your dog. This is why it’s extremely important to keep your dog busy and active during the day, whether it be with toys that stimulate their mind, you playing games with them or giving them the sufficient amount of daily exercise they need to lead a healthy lifestyle.
- Different Breeds: Necessary sleep time also differs based on different dog breeds. For example, large dog breeds tend to sleep the most out of small, medium and large sized dog breeds out there. Just check out any big dog’s naps, you’ll see what I mean! 🙂
- Age: Just like senior people sleep more than younger people because they need more rest, the same is true for senior dogs. Senior dogs sleep more than younger dogs, especially during day time. At what age is your dog considered to be a senior? That would largely depend on your dog breed. Run an online search about when your specific dog breed is considered to be a senior, you’ll easily find the answer. So, if your senior dog decides to act like a puppy again and sleep for 16 to 18 hours a day, don’t worry, that’s completely normal!
How Much Sleep Do Dogs Need?
An interesting theory science has us believe is that unlike humans, who spend up to 25 percent of their nighttime sleep in Rapid Eye Movement (REM), dogs (and due to their shorter sleep stints) spend only up to 10 percent of their sleep in Rapid Eye Movement (REM). This is one reason, scientists believe, that dogs need to sleep more hours than humans do.
Statistics show that dogs spend 50 percent of their day sleeping, 30 percent just hanging around doing nothing, and only 20 percent of their day engaging in activities. But, their sleeping patterns are very different than those of humans. How? We humans, we like to sleep for one long bout at night uninterrupted, and stick to a specific uninterrupted nap schedule if we choose to take naps during daytime. That’s just how we function. Dogs, however, could care less. They could sleep for 10 minutes, wake up and get involved in the action when there’s something going on (like when someone’s at the door) and get back to sleep whenever they want to. They could care less how many times they get up and back to sleep, that’s just how they work. Me, meanwhile, when I’m up, I’m up! There’s no way getting me back to sleep!
Why Do Dogs Sleep So Much?
A serious change in your dog’s sleeping habits all of a sudden is, most of the times, a red flag. This is why it’s always a great idea to keep in touch with your veterinarian and have your dog get checked up on a consistent basis to make sure all is good to go.
Now that we’ve established the difference between normal, healthy dog sleep and prolonged dog sleep that is a sign of something wrong, let’s talk about some of the reasons dogs sleep so much.
- Depression: Dogs getting depression like humans? Yup, you bet. For very similar reasons humans face depression, your dog can face the same risk. Whether due to a chemical imbalance in the dog’s brain, a change in your dog’s day to day routine that they haven’t accustomed to (such as changing homes, the passing away of a close friend or family member, etc ..) or many of the uncountable reasons dogs can get affected, these all put them at risk of depression, depending on how they handle these events. Generally, you should have doubts that your dog is depressed when they gradually start sleeping more and more than they used to, get less and less active throughout the day, become lethargic in everything they do, start eating less and less and losing weight as a result.
- Hypothyroidism: Hypothyroidism means that your dog’s thyroid falls short of producing the necessary amounts of T3 and T4 hormones, which decreases the rate at which their body burns calories (metabolic rate). Why dogs (and people alike) get hypothyroidism is another story, and there are many reasons for that, and are not the focus of this article so we won’t be talking about them here. You should just know that when your dog has hypothyroidism, their metabolic system slows down, their energy levels greatly drop, they become sleepy all the time and thus tend to sleep a whole lot more than they used to. So get your dog checked for hypothyroidism if you notice them sleeping more than they used to, you never know what you might find.
- Diabetes: Diabetes mostly affects older dogs. Dogs who have are diagnosed with diabetes will be sleepy all the time, lethargic, always be thirsty due to excessive urination and lose weight at a fast pace. If you get your dog checked for diabetes and the doctor confirms your dog does indeed have it, don’t worry, treatment exist. In fact, it’s the same treatment as for humans, via insulin injections.
- Infections: Infectious diseases can cause your dog to sleep excessively and display signs of serious lethargy. How can you tell if your dog has an infectious disease? Well, besides lethargy and sleepiness, most infectious diseases cause dogs to display many other symptoms that make it obvious for you that something is not alright with your dog.
- Dehydration: Is your dog getting enough water throughout the day? Make sure this is in check, because if it’s not, you’ll get them in a whole world of health problems that are much bigger than just sleep problems.
- Low Quality Diet: Are you feeding your dog a low quality diet? Besides not providing them with proper nutrients to keep them healthy and energetic throughout the day, foods that make up low quality diets are often hard for your dog to digest and take too much time, which leads to them being lethargic and sleepy instead of upbeat and energetic if they had a high quality diet.
- Pain: When your dog is in pain, they often spend time alone away from everyone else and try to sleep it away. One of the most common cases this is seen in is when your dog has osteoarthritis, which is a disease that affects the joints of your dog as they grow older and older. This is yet another reason as to why it’s vital for you to keep in contact with your veterinarian when it comes to your dog’s health, as only a professional can diagnose such conditions and provide the correct course of treatment for it.
How To Improve Your Dog’s Sleep Quality
Now, since you’re here reading this article, you might as well take some tips with you on how to improve the quality of your dog’s sleep. Trust me, your dog will thank you (in actions since they can’t speak!) later :).
- Comfortable Bed: Make sure your dog has a comfortable bed to sleep on. This is especially important when it comes to older dogs, since they experience muscle and joint pain as they age and become more delicate, which is where a comfortable bed comes into play.
- Exercise: Really, your dog should be getting exercise each and every day, no excuses allowed! Besides the fact that an active lifestyle will keep them healthy, alert and lethargy-free throughout the day, exercise will greatly improve the muscle tone of your dog as they age, which is a huge benefit any dog owner who truly loves their dog can give them. Whether it’s a walk in the park, physically demanding games or just roaming free in your backyard, exercise ideas for dog are endless.
- Keep In Contact With Your Veterinarian: I know I’ve said this a lot already throughout this article, but I just can’t stress it enough, as many dog owners slack off when it comes to this, even though this is one of the most important things they should be doing when it comes to their dog’s health. And this is especially important if excessive sleeping in your dog is a sign for a medical condition your dog is suffering from, which will only be properly solved by professional veterinary advice.