There are some things we can confidently say about virtually all dogs: they love treats, they’re incredibly loyal, and they really, really love to sleep.
While it’s true that some dogs sleep more than others, even the most relaxed dog can seem to prefer sleeping a bit too much. Is this normal? And, why is it that some dogs just can't seem to get enough sleep?
BuddyRest is answering these questions and more in this article, where we explore the phenomenon of dog sleep and why it’s such a large part of overall dog life.
So, why do dogs sleep so much? Questioning the sleeping habits of our furry friends is not uncommon in the world of pet owners. Most dogs truly love their lazy time and require more naps than we ever knew to be true.
Thankfully, it’s pretty normal for our pups to take advantage of their many opportunities to snooze throughout the day. In case you are still worried, here are some facts to keep in mind regarding a dog’s sleeping habits!
A dog’s sleeping habits will vary greatly depending on their age. Much like humans, they require a different amount of sleep throughout different periods of their life.
Think of puppies as you do human infants.
We expect newborn babies and young toddlers to sleep away most of their days, only to wake for food and short playtimes. This is true of young puppies as well. Puppies from the age of 4 months and younger need anywhere from 17-20 hours of sleep a day, usually waking every few hours for a quick snack.
It’s not out of the ordinary for a puppy to have bursts of energy a few times throughout the day, only to be followed by longer naps. Though this can seem concerning, but as long as your pup wakes for food and has a healthy appetite, this is most likely just normal puppy sleepiness. Growing up requires a lot of energy!
When dogs enter their senior years, they start to spend a lot more of their time sleeping. Their sleeping habits can be compared to that of a puppy, without the vigorous playtime in between.
As a dog ages, they get slower with time. This can be due to joint pain, medical conditions, or the aging process in general. As long as older dogs' need for sleep is not associated with obvious pain, loss of appetite, or any other abnormal symptoms, their lower energy levels can be chalked up to old age.
A dog’s energy level will rely heavily on their specific breed. Some breeds are known to be high-strung; therefore, they may require more stimulation in order to feel fulfilled and tired at the end of the day.
Energetic breeds may require less sleep in their day to day lives. Some of these breeds include Border Collies, Australian Shepherds, German Shepherds, Jack Russell Terriers, Huskies, and other breeds known for their desire to work. If you own one of these breeds, they are less likely to sleep the day away, especially in their younger years.
In the dog world, there are certainly some breeds that are known for their love of naps. Some of these breeds include Bulldogs, Great Danes, Greyhounds, Pugs, Shi Tzus, and other breeds not often used for work. If you own one of these breeds, do not be surprised when they choose to spend their time snoring the day away.
Just like us, our dogs can experience life changes that can drain them of their normal energy. Sometimes, this is very temporary. Other times, the need for sleep can last for multiple months.
Changes in a dog’s environment can cause a major shift in its energy and sleeping habits. Some of these external changes include weather changes, switching to a new home, bringing a new animal into your home, introducing a stressful environment, or another drastic change in their surroundings.
Any of the above can lead a dog to appear more tired than usual.
Dogs often experience stress just as we do. Major life changes can lead to what can seem like depression and may cause a dog to be more tired than usual. Environmental stresses can lead to emotional distress, as well as other outside factors that can affect a dog’s day-to-day life. For example, many pet owners say their dog naps more after losing a loved one (human or animal).
There have been many examples to prove that animals can also experience sadness, which can, in turn, lead to them choosing sleep to help pass their time.
Dogs are typically very active when they are awake. We tend to spend our time during the day sitting at a desk exercising our minds, but not our bodies. Your dog’s waking hours are spent doing both. When dogs are awake, they tend to be on the move! Sleep is very important in the recovery of their minds and bodies.
For puppies, this recovery is even more important. They are learning and growing constantly. Their minds are busy and their bodies are extremely active during periods of being awake. Puppies grow very rapidly and sleep allows them some stillness to rest their bodies.
For older dogs, sleep allows their body to do more with less and to better manage pain that can result from arthritis or joint dysplasia.
If you’re wondering how many hours a day do dogs sleep, generally, the average dog generally sleeps anywhere from 12 to 16 hours a day (assuming they’re not puppies or seniors). Catching your dog in multiple naps throughout the day is completely normal.
Obviously, no two humans or dogs are alike, so the amount of time and quality of sleep depends on multiple factors. While these categories are generally considered ‘normal’ to the vast doggie majority, they are important to understanding how to look for possible abnormalities in their sleep habits.
While dogs do enjoy naps throughout the day, there are a few exceptions that can cause pet owners to become rightfully concerned. If your pet appears exhausted and displays some of the other behaviors below, it’s best to contact your veterinarian for further care.
A healthy dog should always be able to be woken up for activities that they usually enjoy. While it’s clear that pups enjoy their daily naps, the thought of spending time with you should almost always entice them out of their slumber. If your furry friend does not want to wake for a trip outside, playtime, treats, meals, or other things they usually enjoy, give your vet a call ASAP.
Changes in diet are often a precursor to developing medical issues. In several veterinary emergencies, a change in diet can be noted in the days before their illness strikes. If your pet is sleeping the day away, and their appetite is lacking as well, talk to your veterinarian.
If your dog ever seems generally normal before experiencing sudden weakness or sleepiness, contact your veterinarian as soon as possible. Sudden exhaustion can be a sign of a more serious problem.
Lethargy and general love for napping are extremely different. Lethargy can be described as overall weakness, lack of exercise, disinterest in things they generally enjoy, and an overall change in demeanor.
If your pup does not want to wake for things they enjoy, seems weak when up and moving, or is experiencing any other concerning symptoms, give your vet a call as soon as possible.
As previously discussed, emotional distress can cause a drastic change in a dog’s behavior. If your pet is experiencing behavioral changes that are affecting their day to day lives, contact your vet about options to bring your anxious pup some relief. CBD is one such alternative to explore.
Additionally, a good dog bed can ensure that your dog is getting proper amounts of sleep, as higher-quality sleep is more restorative sleep. This has the added benefit of improving your dog’s overall health. If you’re looking for a premium dog bed, be sure to check out some of our best sellers!
In rare cases, your dog may have developed or was born with a sleep disorder which, unless it is fairly severe, can be a long and difficult process and may require you to keep logs of your dog’s symptoms.
Some symptoms of sleep disorders to take note of are whining, crying, or frequently waking up during the night. They may also seem more sluggish during the day or appear more discombobulated doing their normal activities.
Due to sleep deprivation, stress hormones may build up, so dogs who have sleep disorders may appear aggressive, refuse to cooperate, or develop infections easily from a weakened immune system.
Here are four common types of sleep disorders in dogs and the associated symptoms to look out for:
Typically a genetic disorder, narcolepsy is affected in the nervous system and causes a significant level drop in a chemical called hypocretin. Hypocretin signals the brain to maintain alertness and controls your circadian rhythm.
These pups have a tendency of suddenly dropping to the floor due to muscle paralysis and falling asleep, typically after a period of excitement or exertion.
Usually associated with another health issue, insomnia is often caused by pain, anxiety, and stress. Dogs affected by insomnia may stay alert through the night and seem sluggish during the day.
Seen in larger, obese, and short-nosed dogs, sleep apnea is an obstruction of air that causes a dog to snore and interrupts their sleep cycle. This can be dangerous if the severity is enough to block their breathing entirely.
This disorder is more common and can be mild or very extreme.
Symptoms are very noticeable. You may see them running, barking, or even fighting in their sleep and are unaware of the actions upon waking.
Attempting to diagnose or manage REM Behavior Disorder by yourself could cause your dog’s poor sleep quality to get worse or last much longer.
In this article, we discussed why sleep is so important to dogs, what factors affect their sleep, and some of the sleep-related disorders some dogs suffer from.
The most important takeaway here is to not use this information as a substitute for professional guidance and diagnosis from a qualified veterinarian.
With that being said, don’t forget that a supportive, comfortable dog bed (like one from BuddyRest!) can go a long way in improving the quality of your dog's sleep. This can, in turn, significantly enhance their total wellness.
We wish your dog plenty of restorative, dream-filled naps on their BuddyRest dog bed!