Sleep is good for the body. It keeps your cells healthy and makes your mind alert. Like humans, dogs need rest too. By sleeping, canines improve their brain functions and reduce stress. It’s natural to worry about why your older dog sleeps so much. But, how much sleep is normal for dogs?
When dogs mature, their sleeping patterns also change. Sometimes, they sleep all day and wake up at odd hours during the night. Frequent sleeping can be normal and sometimes caused by underlying illnesses. Check out this article if you have a senior dog that sleeps so much.
Why Do Older Dogs Sleep So Much
Sleep pattern is related to a dog’s age. A study on 2020 revealed that canines above 1.5 years old spend 10.1 hours of sleep daily. Also, seniors have more uninterrupted sleep during nighttime compared to daytime.
Another research about dogs’ sleep patterns stated that canines aged 2 to 8 years old have two peak hours every day. It’s around 8 am to 10 am and 5 pm to 11 pm during the night. In that study, researchers found out that older dogs sleep more during those active hours.
Canines have so much in common with their owners. A 16-year-old dog, depending on the size, is like an 80 or 123-year-old human being. So, the same with old people, dogs’ bodies feel weak, and their minds suffer from cognitive deterioration too.
Older dogs don’t have the same energy as they were young. Their bones and muscles become weak, so they would rather sleep to conserve energy. As a result, it’s normal for them to rest for 18 to 20 hours per day.
Certain illnesses may cause excessive sleep. For example, dogs that nap so much can suffer from an illness called canine narcolepsy or daytime sleepiness. Also, hyperthyroidism and diabetes can cause senior dog sleep disorders.
Further, boredom can make any dog, regardless of age, doze off. Also, dogs with organ failure are prone to daytime drowsiness. That’s because canines with kidney, heart, or liver disease sleep often to cover the pain.
How Much Should Dogs Sleep?
Puppies spend their time playing and learning new skills. They’re burnt up easily, so sleep renews their cells and promotes their development. That’s why puppies need 18 to 20 hours of sleep every day.
Adult dogs, aged 1 to 5 years old, are night sleepers. They spend 60 to 80 % of the night sleeping. Whereas during the day, they only take a few occasional naps. Hence, adult dogs only need 12 to 14 hours of sleep.
As dogs reach seniority, their bodies become less active. It’s normal for older dogs to nap all day. In some cases, they rest for 18 to 20 hours a day. That’s a combination of short daytime naps and longer nighttime sleep.
Canines naturally spend 75% of their time sleeping. But, if you notice them growling or biting while sleeping for more than 20 hours, then that’s not normal. That’s a symptom of REM sleep disorder that needs urgent medical care.
Signs of Sleep Problem in Older Dogs
Senior dogs need the proper care and monitoring of their health. When they have nothing to do, older dogs sleep a lot. Yet, excessive sleep has its downfalls. If you’re a pet owner, take a look at some signs of sleep problems older dogs encounter.
Sleeping in Different Places
Senior dogs can sleep all day in their favorite spots. But, they will leave that location if they start to feel uncomfortable with it. Canines choose their sleeping place based on their needs. When they feel ill, afraid, or irritated, they will most likely choose a more secure place.
Whining or Twitching
Frequent whining or twitching accompanied by sluggish behavior in the morning is a sign of REM sleep disorder. Older dogs sleeping all day spend 10% of their dreams in REM. This behavior is dangerous because it causes violent muscle spasms that injure dogs in their sleep.
Not Curling Up
You might have noticed an old dog sleeping in a curl-up position all day. That happens when they feel cold and want to conserve body heat. In some cases, senior dogs sleep flat on their stomachs when they’re anxious. That flat position means they’re resting and can jump into action anytime.
Staying Awake at Night
We’re used to seeing older dogs sleep so much every day. In other instances, they can have insomnia and stay awake all night. Insomnia is caused by Canine Cognitive Dysfunction Syndrome. It destroys a dog’s awareness, leading to confusion whether it’s day or night.
Not Waking Up to Stimuli or Sound
Dogs can suffer from comatose. This usually happens when old dogs sleep all day and refuse to respond or get startled by loud sounds. This condition canines with diabetes, hyperthyroidism or brain tumors are prone to this condition.
How to Help Your Senior Dog Have a Normal Sleep
Sleep is essential for all living creatures, especially dogs. It helps with their cognition and strengthens their immune system. Sleep-deprived senior dogs can be prone to infections. Check out the following tips below on how to help senior dogs with their sleep.
Provide a Comfortable Place to Sleep
A senior dog’s sleep can get disrupted due to back pains and discomfort. Like any dog, seniors prefer a nice and quiet place to relax. If you want your old dog to sleep all day comfortably, you can get them an orthopedic dog bed.
Maintain a Regular Sleeping Schedule
Older dogs usually sleep at 8 pm. So, when it’s bedtime, you can invite your dog to their crate. You can also set up pre-bedtime routines to ease their anxiety. For instance, massages and short evening walks can make an older dog sleep so much at night.
Give Appropriate Exercises
Senior dogs also need exercises to keep their minds and bodies alert. Implement short 10 minutes exercises, so you don’t hurt your dog’s joints too much. After that, you won’t have trouble making them rest since old dogs will sleep all day when they’ve had enough fun.
Watch Out What You Feed Your Dog
A study in 2012 claimed that owners should not feed their dogs before bedtime since it increases activity levels. Late-night feeding won’t make your older dog sleep so much. Instead, it will only promote unhealthy weight gain and more energy levels to burn.
Senior dogs may have joint problems, so they’re less active in the household. Usually, an old dog that sleeps all day isn’t an issue unless that sleeping behavior is suddenly altered. Or worse, coupled with diarrhea, loss of appetite, and vomiting. When that happens, it’s best to consult a vet right away.