My Dog is Sleeping A Lot
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There may be some metaphoric truth to the phrase ‘let sleeping dogs lie’. While dogs need a lot of rest to maintain their energy, if your dog is sleeping too much, ignoring it could be dangerous. Many health issues share similar symptoms and sleeping more than usual is something common to many problems. Some are relatively benign, but others might need immediate intervention. It is also important not to rule out environmental factors as a dog sleeping more than usual could be a response to physcological distress.
If you have been wondering why my dog is sleeping a lot, AnimalWised details the possible reasons. On its own, a dog sleeping more than usual will not reveal much. We need to look at other symptoms to better understand what might be the cause.
How much should dogs sleep?
If you think your dog is sleeping a lot, then it is important to know how much is too much. A dog's sleep cycle on a normal day is more or less half the time. However, not all sleep is the same. Dogs will have a time period where they will sleep deeply, potentially for consecutive hours. The rest of their sleeping pattern is made up of short naps. While they are resting, their sleep may not be as deep. They may not be dreaming and are likely napping to conserve energy.
You can tell whether a dog is in a deep sleep by different factors. If they are in REM sleep, you may see their eyeballs move under their eyelids. While it might look disturbing, it is normal for dogs to move their limbs or even tremble when sleeping. Research suggests, this is the dog dreaming. The dog's body posture also changes depending on their quality of sleep. For example, dogs lying in a curled up position are more likely to be in a deep sleep than dogs which are lying flat on the floor or have their paws in front of them.
While an average dog will sleep 12 - 14 hours a day, the stage of a dog's development will affect their sleep cycle. Here are the main stages:
- Newborn puppies: newborn puppies will not yet have opened their eyes, so it can be difficult to tell if they are alert at all. They will be asleep for most of the day, but you can see them breathe and suckle for milk.
- Puppies: during the puppy stage, a dog will sleep around 18 to 20 hours a day. They may be energetic when not sleeping, but they need a lot of rest to keep their developing bodies healthy.
- Adult dog: a dog is considered an adult between 1 and 2 years of age, although some larger breeds may take up to 3 years to fully develop. At this stage, a healthy dog will sleep between 12 - 14 hours.
- Senior dog: when a dog enters old age (after the age of 7 years, depending on individual), their body will start to slow down and they need more sleep to conserve energy. Depending on their well-being, they may return to sleeping 18 - 20 hours a day.
If a dog sleeps a lot during the day and even falls asleep during situations where they should be alert, they may be suffering from a disorder called hypersomnia. This is a neurological disease which result in excessive sleepiness. While there are various causes, there appears to be a genetic basis as some breeds are more prone than others. These more susceptible breeds include the Poodle, Labrador Retriever, the Beagle and the Miniature Pinscher. .
My dog sleeps a lot in winter
Another factor affecting a dog's sleep cycle is the season. This will depend on the climate in the region in which they live. While a dog's sleep pattern will generally maintain the same sleep patterns, there are small variations. To know what is healthy, we should compare them with our own reactions to climactic changes.
In the winter, many places have adverse weather and dropping temperatures. This means, like we will likely do, dogs will spend more time inside and may sleep more near the fire to keep warm. It is also normal for them to want to spend more time close to us to conserve heat.
My dog sleeps a lot in summer
While dogs may sleep more in winter to keep warm, the effects of summer can also have a bearing on their sleep cycle. In months with higher temperatures, it is not strange to see a dog sleeping a lot. The excessive heat can cause them to be drowsy and too tired to be active. Additionally, dogs will also go somewhere cooler such as a tiled floor or somewhere in the shade. The typical posture they adopt has their belly on the floor. Dogs may look like they sleep more in summer, but the hot days might mean the quality of sleep is not as good.
A dog in summer will often be most active during the morning and in the late afternoon. These are generally cooler times of the day. It is possible dogs will eat less. However, loss of appetite is also a symptom in many diseases, so it is important to look at their general appearance and behavior (see below).
My senior dog sleeps a lot
As we state above, senior dogs will need more sleep to help conserve their waning energy. However, we also need to be very careful with other symptoms. Advanced age makes a dog more vulnerable to various conditions. If you notice excessive sleeping in a older dog, then it could be a problem due to cognitive dysfunction syndrome. This is a problem akin to Alzheimer's syndrome in human beings.
Affected dogs will develop behavioral changes such as:
- Urinating inappropriately
- Sleep disorders
If you believe your dog may be affected by cognitive degeneration, it is important you take them to the veterinarian. They will be able to provide an accurate diagnosis and begin them on the right course of treatment. It is likely this will be a palliative treatment for the dog.
My dog sleeps a lot and is depressed
A dog sleeping more than usual may be due to a psychological problem. If a dog sleeps a lot and lacks motivation for normal activity, we should consider the possibility they are depressed. It is very important to first rule out an underlying physical cause as a lack of intervention could be life threatening. A dog which sleeps a lot and doesn't play as much as they did before may be depressed due to boredom, isolation, loneliness, lack of attention or sudden changes in routine.
If we have adopted an adult dog and see they sleep a lot, it is possible they have suffered mistreatment in the past. One form of mistreatment is removing them too early from their mother when a puppy. There may be genetic causes which lead to depression in a dog, but these are not common. In addition to sleepiness, a depressed dog may be apathetic, incontinent or lacking in reaction to stimuli. Veterinary treatment is essential to reach an accurate diagnosis. If a physical cause has been ruled out, a dog education specialist will be required to help modify the routine and living conditions of the animal.
My dog sleeps a lot and doesn't eat
Drowsiness, lethargy, apathy, fever and anorexia are common symptoms of multiple diseases. Outside of the situations and circumstances detailed above, a dog's increased amount of sleep will be due to a pathological problem. These diseases and conditions include:
- Viral infections
- Bacterial infections
- Organ failure
These diseases are especially worrying in puppies and elderly dogs as they are more vulnerable. A veterinarian will carry out various tests to reach a proper diagnosis.
My dog sleeps a lot and throws up
Finally, if our dog is sleeping too much, it may be due to poisoning. Ingestion or contact with toxic substances are capable of triggering various problems. Drowsiness, oversleeping and even shock might occur. However, even milder cases of intoxication may include vomiting as the body tries to reject the causative substance. Other symptoms of poisoning in dogs include diarrhea, stereotypies, trembling and neurological deterioration. In milder cases, throwing up may be enough to get rid of the problem. However, in severe poisoning, the dog will need immediate treatment to ensure their well-being.
This article is purely informative. AnimalWised does not have the authority to prescribe any veterinary treatment or create a diagnosis. We invite you to take your pet to the veterinarian if they are suffering from any condition or pain.
If you want to read similar articles to My Dog is Sleeping A Lot, we recommend you visit our Other health problems category.
1. Kis, A., et al. (2017). The Interrelated Effect of Sleep and Learning in Dogs (Canis Familiaris); an EEG and Behavioral Study. Scientific Reports, 7: 41873.