We all need sleep and cuddling up in bed and drifting off to sleep is the favourite part of many people’s day.
According to our most trusted doctors, we should be getting between 6 to 8 hours of sleep every single night if we want to be able to live our lives to the fullest.
But have you ever looked at your dog and wondered about their sleeping pattern? Do their bodies work the same way as ours do? How much sleep do THEY need?
Tucking yourself into bed every night and drifting off to sleep is a way for your body to repair and form memories that happened while you were awake. It is vital for a healthy body, and dogs’ function in much the same way.
Like all animals, dogs do require a certain amount of sleep, but since they aren’t reading, writing, driving or operating heavy machinery – we hope you don’t need to worry about setting a bedtime for your canine companion. They will do that for themselves.
Overall, your best friend will sleep about 14 hours a day, although this increases or decreases based on age, breed, and the size of your dog.
Large dogs, like Saint Bernards, are happy to sleep for up to 17 or 18 hours a day, while a Chihuahua can be an active, early bird. Puppies use a lot of energy to allow for their rapid growth spurts – which means they need up to 20 hours of sleep per day - which is also normal for elderly dogs because of a slowing metabolic rate.
You will find that these 14 hours don’t happen at once. Due to their strong hearing and smelling abilities, it's quite challenging for them to sleep long enough to go into REM sleep. So you will find them taking shorter naps throughout the day.
This doesn’t mean it’s impossible for them to fall into a deep sleep, we have all been lucky enough to witness the adorable moments our dogs chase squirrels in their dreams. The slight tail wag, twitching of the paws, or even sleep-howling are all signs of a great nap and a successful hunt – in their dreams at least!
Is My Dog Normal?
You may be looking at your dog’s sleeping pattern and thinking, “Is my dog sleeping too much?” or “I’m sure they are sleeping too little?”
When your dog’s sleeping routine starts to noticeably change, try to think about what might have happened to cause it. Maybe you have taken them on a few longer walks, moved into a new home, or changed their diet. If you have gone through all of the possible reasons and it still doesn’t make sense, start to consider any underlying issues.
Age is a major factor in sleep pattern changes. As your dog gets a bit older, they will begin sleeping more because they get tired out more easily. While this isn’t a bad thing, an ageing animal can also develop some health problems to cause a change.
Diabetes in dogs can affect their routine by making it harder to fall asleep, which causes fatigue in your dog, and another issue that we do not usually think about is hearing loss. Imagine how much more sleep you would get if you couldn’t hear your partners alarm or your neighbours hosting a get-together!
Believe it or not, dogs can, unfortunately, suffer from depression as humans do. This is why vet checks are essential. It’s a good idea to pay attention to any mood changes your dog goes through and report any behavioural changes to your vet. Something as important as sleep can be a big indicator for vets to do certain tests and help to get your dog healthy again.
There are many factors that may be affecting your dog's sleep, so if you have reason to be concerned, we recommend booking a check-up with your vet to stay on the safe side.
Tips To Help Dogs Sleep
While you might not be able to give your pup some tea or warm milk, there are some other tricks to help them fall asleep a little easier.
Investing in a good quality bed for your dog is not only a way for you to spoil your four-legged friend, but it also gives them the necessary comfort to get that deep, dreamy sleep. Elevated beds are saviours for joint pain and allow enough ventilation for dogs that get really hot when they sleep. An orthopaedic or memory foam bed is another great option, especially for older dogs with arthritis.
Lavender is a natural plant and scent that makes even the best of us very sleepy. Diffusing or spraying a small amount of doggie-safe product where your pet sleeps every night before bed will help them get into a bedtime routine.
Exercising in the evening, before they eat, is a great way to get that late-night energy out of them. The weight of food in their stomach then lets them settle down more quickly in their beds.
If after all of this your dog is still having trouble relaxing you can try some doggie massage to help relieve muscle tension, reduce blood pressure and alleviate stress.