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How Much Sleep Does Your Dog Need?

Guest post by Brian Morgan

Dog-848390_1280It is no secret that dogs love sleeping. In fact, they spend most of the day laying on the sofa and snoozing. Therefore, we often blame them of being lazy. However, this statement cannot be further from the truth. Because of their biological clocks and sleeping patterns, dogs have higher sleeping requirements.

Generally speaking dogs spend about 12 to 14 hours per day sleeping. Since dogs tend to adjust their sleeping patterns according to the owners’ patterns, their sleeps are not continuous nor equally divided. Usually dogs sleep 8 hours during the night and the remaining 4 to 6 hours occur during the day in the form of naps.

How dogs spend their days

Humans follow a binary sleeping pattern that consists of 12 hours awake during the day and about 8 hours of sleep during the night. Dogs do not have strict and preconceived sleeping patterns.

On average, most adult dogs spend around 50 percent of the day sleeping, around 30 percent of the day resting, and around 20 percent of the day being physically active.

The sleeping portion includes the long night sleep and the short naps during the day. While resting, dogs are awake but physically inactive. The physically active portion of the day includes all physical activities from walking and running to playing fetch and tug-of-wars.  

The dog’s sleeping pattern

The dog’s sleeping pattern is similar to ours. The first phase of sleeping is the slow one and it manifests with slower breathing, blood pressure dropping and heart rate decrease. This phase lasts for 10 minutes. After that, dogs enter the second, rapid eye movement (REM) phase. As the name suggests this phase manifests with fast rolling of the eyes under the closed eyelids.          

The only difference between the human and the canine sleeping pattern is the time spent in REM phase. REM is also the phase in which active dreaming occurs. While humans spend up to 25 percent of sleep in REM, due to their inconsistent sleeping schedules, dogs are in the REM phase for only 10 percent of the total sleep time. Because of the shorter REM phase, dogs need more total sleep make up for the shorter REM.

Simply put, although dogs sleep longer than we do, they do not sleep as soundly and they need to compensate for the lost REM’s.

Factors influencing the dog’s sleeping pattern

Adult dogs spend around 12-14 hours per day on sleeping, while young puppies tend to sleep for more than 18 hours per day. However, the exact time a dog spends on sleeping depends on several factors such as:

  • Breed – large dog breeds sleep longer than small dog breeds. Additionally, how much the dog will sleep depends on what it is bred for. For example, working dogs have lower sleeping needs than dogs bred to be companions.
  • Age – young puppies and senior dogs have higher sleeping requirements
  • Exercise regimen – as contradictory as it may sound, active dogs need less sleep than dogs with sedentary lifestyles
  • Environment – dogs that live in environments with extensive mental stimulations tend to sleep longer.

Changes in the sleeping habits

Sudden changes in the dog’s sleeping schedule may be a cause for alarm and can signalize certain health issues. The most common reasons why your dog’s sleeping pattern can be altered include:

  • Low-quality diet – bad diets make dogs sleep longer because they either do not provide enough nutrients or are hard to digest and require more energy for proper digestion
  • Poor health – cardiovascular conditions, inactive thyroid glands, diabetes and canine depression are all linked to altered sleeping patterns and can significantly influence the dog’s sleeping needs.

Changes in the sleeping habits are normal in older, senior dogs. Senior dogs tend to sleep longer during the day and they also tend to get up more frequently during the night simply because life becomes harder with age. This may seem weird at first, but it is a natural part of the ageing process.  

Doggy sleep disorders

The most common doggy sleep disorders include:

  • Narcolepsy – indicates excessive daytime napping manifested with sudden falling in deep sleep and it usually involves partial or complete muscle paralysis.
  • Insomnia – sleeplessness is quite rare in dogs and it is almost always due to health issues.
  • Sleep apnea – loud snoring caused to heavy and temporarily stopped breathing that causes the dog to wake up. If it occurs frequently it can lead to tiredness during the day.

All dog parents are well aware of how much their canine babies enjoy sleeping. To be honest, when it comes to dogs, extensive sleep is physiologically required. To properly function and stay well-rested, dogs need a good night's sleep and frequent day naps. 

Dogs are flexible sleepers capable of falling asleep out of boredom. They are also capable of waking up easily and becoming alert immediately after the waking. Because of this inconsistent and irregular sleeping pattern dogs need a lot of sleep. Additionally dogs do not sleep deeply and tend to wake up a lot.

If your dog does not follow its usual sleeping pattern, do not hesitate to contact the vet.

Brian Morgan is the editor for DogBedZone a website providing tips, guides, and resources for dog owners.

Image: Mathey, Pixabay.com

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