Dogs and Sleep: What You Should Know
Updated: Apr 26
By Emily Schultze
Whether they are curling up at your feet while you watch T.V. or lounging in bed as you run around the house, you have probably noticed that your dog sleeps quite a bit. You might be wondering—is this normal? How much sleep do they actually need? Before you start to worry, remember that, just like us, the amount of sleep that each dog needs is different. The number of Zzz's necessary for your pup to be feeling their best depends on many factors like size, age, and even breed.
When they are young, puppies use up a bunch of energy growing, so they typically need more time spent asleep than mature dogs. These puppies can sleep for a whopping 18-20 hours a day in order to support their rapid growth. Once they reach adulthood, the average dog dials back their hours spent in bed to about 12-14. However, elderly dogs go back to needing more sleep. This can be due to either a slower metabolic rate or the simple fact that it is harder to move an old body around. This same logic applies when considering a dog’s size—it just takes more energy for big dogs to get around than smaller breeds. However, it isn't always age or genetics that determine sleep, there are also some lifestyle factors which contribute to the amount of sleep a dog needs.
Activity plays a large role in the time a dog spends asleep. Less active dogs actually sleep more than those that are moving around all day. This is due to the fact that inactivity usually leads to unusual sleep cycles. If a dog is home alone all day, they start to get bored, and might decide to sleep while they wait for their owner to get home. Then, later in the evening when their owner returns, they are wide awake and ready to play. To fix this problem, you can give your dog more interesting or complex toys that will keep them engaged during the time when they are alone. Also, making sure that your dog gets 15 to 30 minutes of exercise a day can do a lot to promote healthy sleep patterns.
It is not just boredom that can push your dog to desire a few more naps than normal—significant life changes and events can also cause them to desire a few extra Zzz's. Dogs can be sensitive to their environments, so if you are wondering why your dog suddenly seems to prefer being unconscious, the culprit might simply be that you recently moved. However, death of a loved one can also cause dogs to sleep more, as it is a form of coping for them. If you notice that your dog’s behavior has dramatically changed, it is good to keep an eye on them. Excessive sleep can sometimes be a sign of depression, diabetes or hypothyroidism.
The most important thing to remember is that every dog is different! You are the one who knows your dog’s habits the best; if they seem fine, they most likely are feeling fine. However, if your dog seems out of sorts and is frequently passing on meals, then it might be a good time to bring them in for a check-up.