How many times have you thought: “I wish I could do that too!”. Dogs sleep significantly more than humans and while we may be jealous of their napping habits, it’s important to understand if our four-legged has the right sleep-wake rhythm or if something is wrong.
How much sleep does my dog need?The amount of sleep your dog needs depends on many factors: age, breed, activity level and environmental conditions. It could happen that you discuss the subject with other people. Unfortunately, comparing what your dog does to another’s habits may not be the best way to gauge what is normal. But if your dog generally sleeps between 12 and 14 hours a day, you probably have nothing to worry about. If you add up to more than 15 hours of naps per day, you should pay more attention to how he behaves while awake. If he changes habits, is lethargic or seems “disconnected” a visit to the vet is urgently needed.
Changes to monitorEven small changes in your dog’s life could lead to big changes in his sleeping habits. Have you recently started a new job or changed your daily routine? This too can have an impact, especially if your presence at home changes. Generally a dog that is home alone for long periods can become bored, lonely and sleep more. If you have increased playing time, the duration of walks or have started a sport together, it is normal that he is more tired and therefore rests more. Even the new presence of a rambunctious kitten in the house could cause your dog to look for a quiet place to rest. In all of these cases it may take some time for them to adjust to the change and return to their normal sleep pattern.
Matter of ageWhen it comes to sleep, age is also a factor. Just as babies need more sleep than adults, puppies may need 15-20 hours of sleep a day to help their central nervous system, immune system and muscles develop properly. Puppies may also need help setting a bedtime: turn off all the lights, reduce noise, turn off the TV, and create a routine that gets your four-legged to go to bed. As dogs age, they will again tend to need more sleep and will also take longer to fall asleep.
Health problemsOlder dogs can sometimes become less active due to joint pain and this could reduce his sleep instead. Your vet will help you figure out if there’s a medical problem and give you helpful advice. Just like dreams, big dogs tend to sleep more often than little ones. Newfoundlands, Saint Bernards, Mastiffs and Great Pyrenees are particularly known for being great sleepers. But if your dog sleeps excessively, and this habit is accompanied by a change in diet, thirst or urination, this combination could indicate canine diabetes or kidney disease. It’s always a good idea to watch how your dog behaves while sleeping. A dog that goes into breath holding or snoring may be at increased risk of respiratory problems. Someone who sleeps so soundly that they don’t even hear the doorbell ring, on the other hand, may have hearing problems.
Daily diaryAs you may have guessed, when it comes to sleep patterns there isn’t an easy or unambiguous answer. If you are worried about your pet’s sleep-wake rhythms, keep track of all his daily behaviors, from eating to playing. Saying “my dog sleeps all day” isn’t enough to figure out a potential problem, so make sure your vet has enough information to find out what’s going on.