Do you have a dog that seems to sleep most of the night and the day? You’re not alone! Dogs normally do spend quite a bit of time sleeping during the day and through the night. In fact, this can be worrisome for those who are new to being pet parents. However, if your fur baby seems to be sleeping more than normal, it could be a sign that he may have a medical issue.
Why Dog Sleeps All Day?
Dogs sleep for the very same reasons we do. They need to recharge their energy, and work through all of the day’s activities. And just like us, as a dog works through their day’s activities, they learn from those memories.
And dogs use up a lot of energy through the day, well, many dogs do! When they sleep, dogs’ bodies repair themselves, which includes strengthening their immune systems, along with the body taking care of any other issues.
1). Life Stage & Sleep: What’s a Normal Amount of Sleep for Dogs?
That will depend on their age and life stage. For instance, most adult dogs need to have 12-14 hours of sleep, which is spread over 24 hours. Adult dogs have a wake and sleep cycle that sees them sleeping soundly, and then they gradually wake up to check the environment. They may be checking to see where you are, if there’s any danger nearby and more. Once they see you and that everything’s OK, an adult dog may go back to their nap, or even into deeper REM sleep. Do puppies sleep a lot? Yes! If your puppy sleeping a lot, this is probably normal. Young puppies need between 18 and 24 of hours of sleep a day! But during this time, a puppy’s body is going through many changes and growing. Think of how it is with baby humans—they also require a lot of sleep in the beginning, and then naps as they get older.
Puppies also process their daily activities when asleep. The brain uses nap and sleep times to learn from their experiences, which include learning how to behave from their mothers, and later, their pet parents. With all of this activity and growing, puppies require more sleep than adult dogs. In fact, you may see a puppy go directly from being very active to all of a sudden falling asleep! It happens! Older dogs, too, will spend a large portion of their day and night sleeping. Just like us, older dogs become less active as they age, and they begin sleeping more. One of the reasons for their longer snoozes could be due to a disruption in the length of time and the quality of their REM sleep. Older dogs, just like us, are also prone to waking up at odd times in the night. All of this can lead to low quality sleep, leading older dogs to sleep more during the day.
If your fur baby seems to keep the same schedule almost every day, then everything’s OK. However, if you notice changes, then it’s a good idea to see if there’s anything wrong.
2). Certain Breeds Tend to Sleep More
Another reason your dog may sleep a lot is because some breeds are more prone to needing more sleep than others. Dog breeds that tend to sleep more include:
- Shih Tzu
- Basset Hounds
- French Bulldogs
- Lhasa Apsos
- Cavalier King Charles Spaniel
- Chow Chows
- Great Danes
- Cocker Spaniels
- Great Pyrenees
It’s very normal for dogs from these breeds to sleep quite a bit; however, if you notice any changes in your dog’s sleep habits, then it might be time to take a visit to the vet.
3). Stress, Boredom, Anxiety
Dogs are in some ways so similar to us! It’s amazing. Just like us, dogs can develop stress, anxiety, and boredom, which may lead them to sleep more than they should. In fact, you could liken stress, etc. to our human version of depression, which can also include stress, anxiety, and boredom.
Signs that your fur baby could be suffering from stress, anxiety and boredom include:
- Changes in activity level: for instance, if your dog’s normally active and then all of a sudden seems uninterested in playing or some of his other favorite activities, it could be an indication of stress and anxiety.
- Changes in eating habits: a healthy dog usually has a very good appetite. If your fur baby suddenly loses interest in his food and favorite treats, this could be a sign that he’s suffering from stress. He could also be experiencing stomach and digestive issues such as vomiting and diarrhea.
- Aggressive and/or destructive behavior: if your normally calm fur baby all of a sudden begins to show signs of aggression and/or becomes destructive, he may be acting out due to stress and anxiety. You may notice that he’s begun chewing on anything from wooden furniture to shredding pillow, and more. He may also be growling and/or snapping at you and others.
- Sudden shyness: if your canine companion was once outgoing and friendly, but over time seems to become shy and reserved, then this could also be a sign of anxiety and stress. Be sure to avoid punishing your dog if he’s acting up, as this may only increase his anxiety and stress.
- Blinking too much: when a dog feels uncomfortable for some reason, you may notice that he’s blinking his eyes more than normal. This behavior is a dog’s way of disengaging from what’s making him uncomfortable. It is, in fact, a method dogs use to calm themselves.
- Whites of the eyes showing: if you see the whites of your canine companion’s eyes, this can be a sign that something is upsetting him. It could mean he doesn’t want to look at you or at something he did. It could even mean he’s protecting some object that he perceives you or another animal is trying to take away.
- Lifting his paw: some dogs do this on a regular basis, such as Golden Retrievers; however, if your dog doesn’t do this normally, then he could be signaling his unease. Dogs may use this to signal they’re not a threat and to please leave them alone.
- Moving away: if your fur baby moves away from something, this could indicate he’s under stress. Dogs tend to move away from whatever is causing them to feel stressed or anxious.
- Panting/drooling/shaking: these are all signs that your fur baby could be feeling anxious and stressed out.
Other common signs your dog’s feeling anxious and stressed can include barking excessively, laying his ears way back on his head, tail between the legs or low wagging, and more. Stress and anxiety can be caused by many things including a change in your home environment, a change in routine, moving to a new residence, lack of sleep, the adoption of another pet, a new baby in the home, death and more.
4). Bacterial or Viral Infections
Infections are another common cause of dogs sleeping more than they should. Bacterial infections, such as leptospirosis, can be very contagious. Your fur baby can catch this and other bacterial infections from other dogs.
Viral infections may also cause your canine fur baby to sleep too much. Viral infections such as parvovirus, which is also highly contagious, can even kill puppies and dogs who only a few months old.
Parasites are common health issues in dogs, which can also cause excessive tiredness and weakness. Parasites can cause many health issues including anemia. Anemia is the reduction of red blood cells in the body, which leads to lack of oxygen. The most common parasites found in dogs include:
- Hookworms: they attach to the intestine and suck blood from the dog. They can be transferred from a mother dog to her puppies. Dogs can also catch hookworms from soil that’s infested with this nasty parasite.
- Roundworms: this can be given through a mother dog’s uterus or through her milk to her puppies. These parasites are sometimes easy to see in a dog’s poop.
- Tapeworms: dogs can get this parasite from fleas. The tapeworms live in the dog’s intestine, where they can grow up to 4 to 6 inches long. These, too, can be seen in a dog’s poop.
- Whipworms: these are intestinal parasites can be responsible for irritation of the colon and the cecum (the beginning of the large intestine).
My Dog Sleeps a Lot: When to See the Vet
If your dog sleeping a lot, then it’s time to call the vet. While it’s normal for your fur baby to spend many hours a day sleeping, if you notice he seems to be sleeping more than normal, then it’s a good idea to call the vet. Your dog may be just fine, but it’s always best to have him checked if you notice changes in his health, disposition or daily routines. The vet may ask several questions about how long you’ve noticed these symptoms, how long your fur baby seems to be sleeping each day, and more. After this, the vet will give your canine companion a physical exam and may also order some lab work done. This can include blood work, images, and more.
If the vet finds any health issues, they will recommend the proper treatment for the dog’s diagnosis. This may include a change in diet, adding daily medications and more, depending on the vet’s findings. On the other hand, the vet may find your dog is just fine! It could be that he just needs to be put on a schedule. Just like us, dogs need to have a regular schedule to maintain their health and sleep habits. The vet may decide your fur baby needs additional exercise during the day. This may include a walk or two, play times, etc. They will help you come up with a schedule that will make your dog’s day more routine, which may help him to sleep better and not sleep as often.
As you can see, there are many things that may cause your dog to sleep a lot. It can be due to his breed, his age, life stage, or perhaps due to anxiety/stress and other health issues. It could even be that he may need a more routine schedule and additional exercise. Don’t panic if your dog’s sleeping more during the day. Just give your vet a call and have your fur baby checked out. Chances are he’s OK; if not, then early diagnosis and treatment may be just what he needs to help him feel livelier again.