What do you know about your dog's sleep!
Even though it can be difficult for many people to fit sleep into their busy schedules, getting enough sleep each night is important for both short-term vitality and long-term health. For dogs it’s the same story: getting enough sleep every day is important.
As you observe your dog, you may feel like the dog sleeps the majority of the day away. This is normal, as dogs need on average 14 hours per day of sleep, although different breeds have different needs.
Why Do Dogs Need More Sleep?
A dog doesn’t sleep in quite the same way as a human does. For example, a dog only spends about 10% of its sleep time in REM sleep, which is the deepest type of sleep that results in the greatest rejuvenation of the body. Humans spend 250% more sleep time in REM sleep than dogs. This difference means that the average dog needs several more hours of sleep per day than an average human.
Sleep Variances Among Dogs
Just like some humans need less sleep than other people, some dogs need less (or more) sleep than other dogs. The differences in sleep patterns among individual dogs within your household can be a bit frustrating – especially if one of your dogs likes to wake up an hour before sunrise every day – but the following reasons can explain these differences.
- Age. An older dog is going to require more sleep than a young adult dog. And puppies will sleep more than an average dog, perhaps as much as 18 hours per day.
- Breed. Certain breeds of dogs require more sleep, such as large breeds that are bred to be guarders of livestock. Working dogs, such as active breeds like border collies, will be able to function well on less sleep per day.
- Sleep location. Some dogs will sleep better in a familiar location. If your dog normally sleeps in your bed, but must be kept in a crate on a particular night, it may not sleep properly, causing differences in sleep patterns the following day.
Watch for Sleep Pattern Changes
Sometimes a dog may sleep less or more than usual because of an illness or physical ailment. A sudden change in the amount of sleep a dog needs or in the times at which it sleeps may be the first sign of a serious illness. So if you’re worried about your dog’s sleep patterns changing, you may want to visit your veterinarian. Onset of one of the three following sleep disorders also may cause a change in a dog’s sleep pattern.
- Insomnia. A dog that’s in pain may have a difficult time sleeping, so insomnia can be a clue to an unknown ailment that requires a veterinarian’s care. Kidney or thyroid problems can cause an inability to sleep, too.
- Narcolepsy. If your dog is sleeping more than what seems normal during the day, it’s possible that your pet has developed a form of narcolepsy. You should investigate this possibility further, especially if it’s difficult to wake up the dog from a daytime nap.
- Sleep apnea. While it’s more common to think of sleep apnea in humans, this condition can occur in dogs too. A dog with sleep apnea will snore and may seem excessively tired during the day because it isn’t receiving a deep sleep at night.
The best way to determine whether your pet is suffering from some sort of sleep-related problem is to have a good understanding of the dog’s normal sleeping habits. Watch for changes in that sleep pattern as a clue to something more serious occurring with your dog’s well-being. After all, sleep patterns can give you information about the dog’s health that the animal cannot verbalize to you.