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Why Do Dogs Sleep More In The Winter

↯ Key takeaway points

  • Dogs sleep more in the winter due to a combination of factors, including increased comfort in cold weather and low light conditions.
  • The production of the hormone melatonin, regulated by light and dark cycles, can also cause dogs to feel sleepier in the winter.
  • Owners can help their dogs stay active in the winter through indoor exercises, games, and short walks during daylight hours.
  • It is normal for dogs to sleep more during the winter but owners should still strive to keep their dogs physically and mentally healthy.
  • Factors such as age, disease, and separation anxiety can also contribute to a dog's sleeping patterns.
Written by Larese
Larese is passionate about all sorts of domesticated pets. They have written dozens of articles across the web.
Licensed veterinarian and animal behaviorist with over three years of experience and a Ph.D. in Poultry Science.
Published on
Thursday 8 October 2020
Last updated on
Monday 5 June 2023
why do dogs sleep more in the winter
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Have you noticed increased hibernating time with your pooch during cold seasons, and wonder why dogs are sleeping more in the winter? While this issue is not new, some breeds can sleep longer than hoe much they do in regular weather. Let us look at some possible reasons why dogs sleep so much on frosty days.

Our dogs may feel super comfortable on a cold day to the point that they also feel lazy. The combination of cold weather and low light conditions makes various dog breeds sleep much more than usual.

Why Do Dogs Sleep More in Winters?

Nothing beats the feeling of looking out of your windows from your bed and watching the falling snow, not to mention the sub-zero temperature. Dogs have sharper senses, so they feel the same, and even twice, extreme comfort that we feel during winter. Apart from the “bad weather,” being less active, no exercises, and low metabolism are among the many reasons dogs sleep more in winter. Moreover, during this season, take note that dogs can also feel depression due to oversleeping. So, always consult vets for better mental simulation.

You can also blame your furry pal’s hormones for it. Like humans, our pets also produce melatonin. It is a hormone in their brain that helps in regulating sleep cycles. When there is too much melatonin produced because of dark and cold conditions, which also happens to people, pets have a higher tendency to sleep more. The production of melatonin happens through the pineal gland and is inhibited when light hits the retina. The synthesis and secretion of this hormone are usually affected by light passing through the eyes.

Therefore, we can conclude that the production of melatonin can cause our furry companions to feel lazy, less active, and want to sleep more. With less light and sunshine during the winter, there would be higher levels of melatonin produced, making our dogs feel laidback and relaxed. Melatonin has quite a few different effects, but it will cause sleepiness, the most prominent. As dogs produce more melatonin because of gloomy winter weather, they can sleep more.

Are Dogs Lethargic in Winters?

Nothing beats the feeling of looking out of your windows from your bed and watching the falling snow, not to mention the cold weather. Dogs have sharper senses, so they feel the same, and even twice, extreme comfort that we feel during winter. Apart from the bed weather,” being less active, lack of exercise and slow metabolism are among the many reasons dogs sleep more in winter. Hormones heavily influence your a dog’s sleeping pattern. High levels of melatonin make the done want to sleep more. On the other hand, low production serotonin causes dogs to feel tired and lazy.

When there is less light in the surroundings, like the winter, our dogs would also feel more relaxed. However, just because they sleep more doesn’t apply certain medical conditions. Sometimes, our dogs also feel lethargic, like us.

What Can I Do to Keep My Dog Active in Winters?

Cold weather and short daytime make it easy for both our dogs and us to feel lazy. Fortunately, there are ways to help your pooch to avoid sleeping more in the winter. Even with those chilled days, it is essential to stay active and maintain a healthy body condition. Even the weather outside drops, always keep your fido’s optimal health. So, here are some ways to keep your dog active in winters.

Indoor Exercises

Once you notice that your dogs have been sleeping more in the winter, you can help him do several indoor exercises. It includes running up and down the stairs, using treadmills, and even a simple indoor fetch. If you have a long hallway at home, you can play the fetch game using a lightweight ball or any toys that your pooch loves during the summer.

If you know someone who owns a dog, you can also invite them overall and let your dog get along with other breeds. It is suitable for your furry pal’s mental and physical state. Moreover, you can also teach new dog tricks like “stay” or “shake,” and perfect the “rollover.” You can also help your dog behave well, do some doggie chores like not playing on your sleepers, and return its toys. Wouldn’t that be so cool? Winter is the best time to do some indoor fun. Even a few minutes of game time helps in alleviating the winter doldrums.

Play Games

If you have a fun, active, and playful breed, playing games helps dogs sleep more in the winter. Game time with your pup is essential in stimulating its mind and body without venturing too much into the cold weather. You can start by giving treats more uniquely and excitingly. For example, you can use a treat-dispensing toy or play hide and seek of dog treats. You have to let him make the dog treats relatively apparent in the beginning so that you can send a signal that you want to play a game. Then, work gradually in elaborating more difficult hiding places.

If you don’t have enough space, a tug game with your pup is an excellent exercise for both of you. Aside from the intellectual stimulation, war shooting can also be a pretty decent physical workout, helping compensate for at least some of the exercises you can both miss due to the harsh winter weather.

Aside from playing games, you can also give your pooch some excellent massages. Get your dog to lie down and relax on the ground. Then, give it some smooth rub-down to loosen all those unused muscles. You and your dog can do several games while you stay at home, and it is all about finding what would work best for both of you.

Go Out for a Walk

During winter, the best time to go out for a walk is when the day becomes bright. Even a short walk will do just fine and enough to work on those unused muscles. Most dogs enjoy strolling during a brisk day. Take note that some sidewalks become treated with salt or other chemicals to prevent ice, but these elements are harmful to your pooch. When going out, don’t forget to protect your dog’s paws with winter boots to avoid irritation from cold and frostbites.

dogs sleep more in the winter
It is normal if your dog sleeps more during winter.

Dogs Sleeping More in Winters – FAQ

Dogs sleep more in the winter, but it is normal most of the time. Some days, they also feel lazy, especially during cold seasons. However, it is essential to keep your furry pal’s physical and mental health holistic to prevent medical problems.

In addition to shifting to their brain hormones, dogs also feel cold, lazy, and want to cuddle up more. Most of the time, dog breeds that sleep a lot is not a significant concern.

Do dogs get lethargic in winter?

Due to a lack of exercise combined with colder temperatures leading to a higher difficulty in using energy, they can be more lethargic in winter. Take note during this season that canines are often able to experience fatigue due to oversleeping. So, for better mental simulation, always consult with vets.

Moreover, the production of different hormones like serotonin and melatonin can also cause dogs to sleep more in the winter. Both high melatonin and deficit serotonin can cause your dog to feel sleepy and lethargic during cold and dark days. It is a reasonable condition, but you can alleviate it by doing indoor exercises, playing games, and outdoor walking.

Why does my dog sleep more?

The amount of sleep that your canine can get depends on different factors. For example, puppies and senior dogs need more sleeping time. On the other hand, overweight and sick dogs may also cause more prolonged hibernating habits. One common reason is the cold temperature, but take note not to let your pooh sleep outside during the winter

Senior pooches that sleep more and longer can be because of various diseases and age-related problems. Stress and separation anxiety can also prolong hibernating times of your pooch. Observing if your dog sleeps 12 hours per day is no concern, but anything more than that may require visiting its veterinarian. 

According to the National Sleep Foundation experts, it is normal for dogs to be asleep even for 50% of their day. Another 30% for resting for toy breeds, while 20% for active canines. Most dogs sleep because there’s nothing else to do. Sleeping is usually the perfect way to spend long, and tedious hours because they don’t have laptops, jobs, or homework to do. 

Do dogs sleep more in the heat? 

Since most dog breeds are finding ways to cool down in the heat, some would end up sleeping more because of a lack of activity and low energy. However, not all dogs are the same. Some can’t have a good rest due to hot weather. Hence, your furry companion may become restless and moodier.

As the temperature rises outside, the behavior of our canine changes as well. In fact, research by the New York City and Beijing experts found that the frequency of dog bites arises as heat becomes more extreme. So, always keep an eye whenever there’s a stranger, children, and other dogs nearby. 

During the winter, it is normal for dogs to sleep more. However, try your best to keep them healthy and happy while avoiding any physical and mental problems. Even the simple actions of opening window shades and fluorescent light bulbs help stimulate natural light in your home and make your pooch feel active. More importantly, give your dog proper nutrition and adequate indoor exercises to prevent boredom and sleepiness.

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