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    How Much Sleep Does My Dog Need?

    Authored by Jodi Helmer

    If your dog had a to do list, it might look like this: Eat breakfast; sleep; play fetch; sleep; chase tail; sleep; bark at squirrels; sleep; eat dinner; sleep.

    Dogs spend an average of 12 hours per day sleeping. Whether your dog prefers curling up on the couch, dozing on a dog bed or spending the night tucked in beside you, sleep is essential for their health and wellbeing.

    How much do dogs sleep

    Age is one of the biggest factors that affects how much dogs sleep. 

    Puppies sleep between 18 and 20 hours each day and all of that shut-eye during their first year of life is essential for proper growth and development. Adult dogs sleep between eight and 14 hours each day and, as they move into their golden years, dogs spend more time sleeping—up to 18 hours a day for senior dogs.

    Research shows that middle-aged and senior dogs spend more time sleeping at night, logging 38 more minutes of total overnight sleep time than younger dogs; dogs over the age of seven also slept in later and took more frequent naps during the day than dogs under seven years old.

    Breed matters, too. Large dog breeds like Great Danes, German Shepherds and Bernese Mountain Dogs need more sleep than dachshunds, chihuahua and Pekingese. It’s believed that larger breeds spend more energy moving their bodies and need extra rest to recover.

    While dogs might appear to fall into a deep sleep—and even snore or twitch like they’re having vivid dreams—dogs are light sleepers. Since dogs don’t spend much time in the deeper stages of sleep, it allows them to transition from asleep to alert in seconds. The fact that dogs spend most of their time in the lighter stages of sleep is also one of the reasons for their frequent naps.

    Is my dog getting enough sleep

    Sleep is essential for your dog’s overall health and wellbeing. Make sure to give them a quiet, comfortable spot where your dog can sleep undisturbed; regular exercise is also important to burn off excess energy and ensure your dog is ready to rest.

    With too little sleep, dogs can experience sleep deprivation, which can cause restlessness, whining, trouble concentration, increased neediness and sluggish behavior.

    What affects a dog's sleep

    Dogs tend to sleep when their owners do, spending most of the night in restful slumber but stressful situations, new environments and lots of hustle and bustle can make it harder for dogs to sleep. You might notice that your dog dozes less when there are unfamiliar noises like fireworks or new people are visiting; dogs may also take extra time to readjust to their normal sleep schedule after boarding or vacation.

    Can dogs get sleep disorders

    Some dogs struggle to sleep for the same reasons as their owners: sleep disorders.

    Brachycephalic Obstructive Airway Syndrome, a condition that causes the tissue in the larynx to collapse, resulting in reduced airflow, shortness of breath and snoring, can make it harder for dogs to fall into a deep sleep. It’s common in brachycephalic (short-nosed) breeds like French bulldogs, Boston terriers, Pekingese, boxers and pugs.

    Dogs can also suffer from narcolepsy. The chronic neurological condition causes sudden collapse from loss of muscle control; daytime sleepiness is another symptom of narcolepsy. It’s often an inherited disorder diagnosed in breeds like the Labrador retriever and Doberman (but it can be diagnosed in dogs with no genetic link).

    What if my dog's sleep pattern changes

    It’s normal for your dog to spend most of the day dozing but if their sleep patterns change, pay attention. 

    Excessive sleepiness is a symptom of common canine diseases and illnesses like infection, parvovirus, kennel cough, diabetes, hypothyroidism and heart and liver disease. Pain, whether it’s from an injury or chronic disease like arthritis, could make it hard for your dog to find a comfortable position for sleep.

    You might also notice age-related changes in your dog’s sleep patterns. It’s normal for senior dogs to wake up more often to use the bathroom. Taking them out for a potty break before bed could help them sleep through the night. 

    In older dogs, changes in the sleep/wake cycle, especially if they also show signs of confusion, restlessness and more potty accidents in the house, could be a sign of canine cognitive disorder.

    Anytime you notice changes to your dog’s sleep patterns, make an appointment with your veterinarian to rule out health issues or seek treatment to address the root cause of sleep problems and help your dog settle back into a restful slumber.