Dog Behaviors and Sleep Problems
If you notice your dog is too tired during the day, or maybe he/she is awake all night, or perhaps those long naps your dog is taking lately are so deep that it is impossible to wake him/her up; Maybe it is time to check your dog is having sleep problems.
But first, to understand if your dog has sleep problems and if this is affecting your dog’s behavior. Let’s review some facts about sleep patterns, disorders and what you can do to help your dog to sleep better.
Do you know how many hours your dog should sleep every day?
Adult dogs: 12-14 hours per day
Puppies: 18-20 hours per day
These rates are used as a reference. Dogs can adapt their sleep pattern depending on their routines, how active they are and the environment where they live.
For example, dogs usually sleep less time on a Saturday than a Monday due to the changes in the environment between owner’s working hours and weekends.
Also, some dogs sleep more than others depending on what type of breed they are.
For Example, A Great Dane, because of his size, uses to move slow and sleep a lot (18-20 hours per day as average), but Australian shepherd or Siberian Huskies, very active dogs, use to sleep 10-12 hours per day.
In fact, including naps, dogs sleep most of the day (almost 80%)
But how do you know if your dog is sleeping too much or too little?
If you notice there are a lot of variations on the sleeping routine of your dog, it could be a sign that there is something wrong.
Is your dog sleeping too little?
There are some common scenarios where dogs sleep not enough that can be changed:
They still have energy accumulated because they are not getting too much exercise. This scenario is very common, you are working, and out all day, usually, your dog sleeps a lot of time being alone or bored when you are not at home so at night the dog has enough energy to be awake.
Your dog is stress or anxious, or there is something that has triggered the feeling of fear at night time. Sometimes a nightlight helps your dog to relax and sleep.
You may ask your vet about a natural or herbal supplement or medication to reduce your dog’s anxiety feeling like Dog Anxiety Relief made by Pet Relief or another option. (Personally, I use this one with one of my Labradoodles, she uses to wake up, shake and get anxious when there are thunders or storms in my area)
If the issue is not anxiety, the stress of high energy, your vet should know the best option to help him/her because maybe your dog is having some pain that is not letting him/her to sleep.
A way to check if your dog has a healthy sleeping and he/she is on track with the sleeping time needed is using a sleep tracker for your dog or making a hard copy of a sleep schedule where you can track his/her hours of sleep.
Is your dog sleeping too much?
Sometimes you can think your dog is sleeping more than the usual, but you need to have into consideration some facts to decide if this is an issue or not:
Age, dogs sleep longer when they get old. On the other hand, puppies also sleep more hours than adult dogs. But using the time frame reference for puppies and adult dogs you should know if there is something wrong. If you feel your dog is sleeping excessively you should talk to your vet.
Size of the dog, Remember that small dogs sleep less than big dogs, so you can’t compare the sleeping time of a Chihuahua with a Great Dane. Big dogs, due to their size, use more calories when they move than small dogs, so they get tired quickly (now you understand why your pug is unstoppable!)
Activity, another reason is the amount of activity, for example, an inactive Maltese could sleep more time of what is typical for his/her size.
Diet, another reason can be the quality of dog food your dog is getting, try always to provide a very well balanced diet. (You can also read the post-Food your dog should never eat).
For example, If you notice your dog is sleeping too much, it could be a health issue like anemia, ask your vet for an examination to determine what is the reason of the long sleeping pattern of your dog.
Most Common Dog Sleep disorders:
Same as some people, some dogs face troubles trying to sleep at bedtime or after waking up in the middle of the night. Usually, Insomnia is caused by other problems like anxiety, pain or illness. Also, insomnia is common on elderly dogs usually triggered for some other condition that create discomfort (digestion problems, joint pain, waking up in the middle of the night to go to the bathroom or even overweight).
Sleep Apnea means trouble to sleep; this is a common disorder in some dogs that have breathing problems or suffer from obesity. This Dogs may snore, and loud snoring may be a sign of breathing problems and, as a consequence, they wake up creating sleep apnea. One of the effects of sleep apnea is the lack of energy you may see in your dog during the day even though you think they slept all night.
Some Vets recommend surgery if the respiratory system is defective or malformed, but humidifiers can be an alternative for helping to open airways using peppermint, eucalyptus or tea tree. Sometimes for dogs with obesity also veterinarians recommend a weight loss diet.
REM Behavior Disorder (Periodic Limb Movement Disorder)
Maybe you notice your dog looks running or pawing in the air when sleeping, it is common to think that they are dreaming, but the real reason is that some dogs are very active even when they sleep having short periods of REM sleep cycle.
If you notice this type of behavior in your dog, talk to your veterinarian to see what steps to take to help him/her sleep better. Having this kind of disorder in the long term may lead your dog to health, emotional, or mental problems.
This type of disorder is not very common, but still, it may affect the REM cycle of your dog sleep leading to a very extreme sleepiness behavior during the day.
One of the most common symptoms in dogs with Narcolepsy is known as cataplexy or sleep attacks where your dog can show a type of paralysis while remaining awake. Sleep attacks can be triggered by intense emotions like playing, getting too excited or even feeding.
12 Tips for Your Dog to Sleep better
- Your dog should have their space, like a crate, or dog bed
- To reduce the energy of your dog accumulated during the make a short walk with him/her before bedtime, it will be good also for you!
- Sounds like an oxymoron but limit the amount of exercise before bed, a short walk is ok but does not let your dog run around for too much time, he/she will come back more excited and reloaded of energy so it will be hard to make him/her sleep later.
- Remember to take your dog out before bed, sometimes we come back from work, watch tv, eat, go to the bathroom and forget they need to go.
- Today with all the technology around us you can use your cell phone, tablet, speaker, etc. and find some relaxing music for dogs with a low volume. It will help your dog to feel relaxed just before bedtime. (I also use this trick with our dogs when we are out of home for several hours and trust me it works fantastic!)
- For dogs with anxiety use a natural, gentle Sleep time Tonic, it will help to sleep your dog due to the active herbal sedatives and homeopathic medicines to encourage a restful night’s sleep. Just use a few drops on your dog’s tongue before bedtime, highly recommended!.
- Give your dog some love before bedtime! It will help him/her to relax and feel secure. (Love release endorphins, among other benefits, endorphins help relax).
- Reduce the amount of water before bedtime. Healthy dogs should be good if you stop giving water 2 hours before bed, only dogs with diabetes should not be restricted to the amount of water. For more information ask your veterinarian.
- Create a habit with all the above; dogs adapt very well to routines.
- Be consistent with your own schedule. Dogs tend to sleep when the owners go to bed. If you go one day at 10:00 pm and another day at 1:00 am your dog will be confused and it will be difficult to create a routine for him/her.
- For an old dog with joint pain, Joint Resolution will help to ease any discomfort. Your dog will be a lot more comfortable and sleep like a baby.
Sleeping quality and a good night’s sleep is essential to your furry friend. With the batteries fully charged, your dog will wake up happy, healthy, in good spirits and ready for a new day.