Dogs seem to really have it made, don’t they? They sleep all day and all night long, with some breaks to play, eat, and walk thrown in there. So why do dogs sleep so much? And is your dog sleeping too much?
Why do dogs sleep so much?
Dogs need a lot of sleep and they actually need a lot more sleep than humans do. They simply sleep when their body tells them that they need to sleep! On average, an adult dog should sleep for about 12 to 14 hours a day, but this varies for every individual dog.
Puppies may sleep up to 20 hours every day! Plus, older dogs and larger breed dogs (who need to exert more energy to do just about anything due to their size) may also sleep more hours in the day.
Another reason why dogs need more sleep than we do is that dogs have a different sleep pattern than we do.
When we sleep, we spend about 25% of the time in REM (aka rapid eye movement) sleep, which is the deepest stage of sleep (it is also the stage of sleep where you dream). Dogs, on the other hand, only spend about 10% in REM sleep.
Dogs & REM sleep
This is because dogs have such irregular sleep schedules and they wake up quickly and become alert at little sounds. This causes dogs to need more sleep, in general, to make up for the loss of that REM sleep. (And yes, just like we dream during REM sleep, scientists believe that dogs also dream during this phase!
What’s more is that scientists believe that dogs dream similarly to us and they replay parts of their day in their dreams! So when your dog is whimpering or moving their legs while fast asleep, they are probably dreaming!)
Plus, dogs just simply enjoy sleeping! So, since they really enjoy it, it makes sense that they want to spend a large portion of the day sleeping.
Dogs spend about 50% of the day sleeping and then they usually spend another 30% of the day just lounging around. During this time, they may just be hanging out or looking out the window- so even though they are awake, they are not doing much of anything… and that is just the way that they like it!
So, really, your dog is only awake and active for about 20% of the day.
Does my dog sleep too much?
After hearing that your dog is probably only active for about 20% of the day, that is probably a relief and it makes you feel better about your dog’s couch potato habits, right? But can dogs sleep too much and when should you worry about how much your dog is sleeping?
There are a few times when you should worry about your dog sleeping too much. The first one is if you are noticing a change in their sleep patterns. You know your dog the best and if you notice that they are changing their sleeping habits, it may be time to let your dog’s veterinarian know.
For example, if your dog usually takes a two-hour nap every afternoon, but now they are sleeping for periods of five hours in the afternoon, it might be a sign that something is off.
Another warning sign that has to do with sleeping is this: how hard is it for you to wake your dog up? Most of the time, dogs wake up fairly quickly (with a stretch and a yawn, they are ready to go!) when they are properly motivated (such as hearing a bag of snacks being opened or seeing their leash in your hand).
If your dog is having a hard time waking up or is unable to be motivated by the things they normally like, it is time to call your veterinarian.
Lastly, watch out for something called exercise intolerance. If your dog stops to rest or sleep in the middle of an activity or seems to be panting heavily after light exercise, they may have exercise intolerance.
This is a sign that something is off and it is a sign that your pup should get checked out by a veterinarian.
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