Whether canine, feline, human, or another species altogether, we all get the same 24 hours in a day. Pet owners always hate to leave their animals at home while they race off to yet another day at work. They imagine Fido all alone at home; sad, lonely, and pining the hours away until that glad reunion when they triumphantly run through the door when the work day is done. While there is no doubt that pets note their owners’ absence acutely, the truth is a little more harsh. It’s more than likely that your dog spends the entire time you are gone…sleeping. Yes, sleeping.
How Much Sleep Does a Dog Need?
Research shows that the average dog sleeps between 12 to 14 hours per day. However, not all dogs have the same sleep requirements. Puppies sleep 18 hours or more on a daily basis as they tire much more easily as they expend vast amounts of energy simply toddling along exploring their new world. Their bodies also need more rest time during which to grow. Elderly dogs also require more sleep than the average dog. Their energy reserves are not quite what they used to be, and it takes a little more concentrated shut eye to keep the “pep” in their step.
Though few people would consider this, breed also plays a role in how much sleep a dog needs per day. Dogs who were purposefully bred with a job in mind were intentionally designed to have much higher stamina than their companion counterparts. As such, they can work harder, for longer hours, and rest less while still remaining vibrant and healthy.
What Are a Dog’s Sleeping Habits?
Though most dogs typically adopt their family’s habits and sleep for a prolonged period during the evening, dogs generally prefer short naps interspersed with bouts of activity throughout the day. It is important to note that all dogs are individual and as such may not follow any established pattern. Your dog might actually sleep only a few hours per evening and decide that 2 am is a grand time for a pee and some play time! Or you may have a dog that you have to wake up to eat his meals. Each dog marches to the beat of his own drummer when it comes to when they like to catch their shut eye.
In the book The Dog Bible: Everything Your Dog Wants You to Know, author Tracy Hotchner shares some interesting insights about how our favorite canine companions like to structure their days. According to Ms. Hotchner, our dogs spend equal parts of their day sleeping and resting (30 percent allotted to each category) with the remaining amount of time divided between daily activities such as exercise as well as eating and other pursuits. 60 percent of a dog’s average day is spent being inactive. Armed with this information, it is easy to see why it is so important for Fido to get out on a daily walk!
The Quality of a Dog’s Sleep
Unlike most owners, dogs tend to sleep lightly. Regular household noises disturb them more frequently, meaning the quality of their sleep is not as high as their human counterparts. This may be reflected in more frequent nap habits in your dog.
Changes That Can Affect Sleep Habits
Of course, as our dogs age, their sleep habits differ as well. Yet it is not always the aging process that leads to disturbances in sleep. Among the top contenders for sleep issues in dogs are:
Every dog has nutritional requirements which must be met in order to ensure optimal health and performance. When a dog is fed an inferior quality diet, many things begin to suffer, but it becomes most noticeable in the appearance of his coat and skin as well in the amount of energy he now has.
Certain foods are comprised of filler ingredients. They help dogs to feel satiated but provide little nutrition. Your dog ends up feeling full, but his basic dietary needs are not being met. It is important to feed your dog only the highest quality food and one that is ideally suited to his specific nutritional needs.
As dogs begin to experience illnesses and disease, their bodies require more rest. Heart conditions and other ailments involving critical organs such as the liver and kidneys deplete a dog of needed energy. For this reason, it is always wise to take your dog for an annual wellness examination. Even if your dog seems perfectly healthy and you are having a hard time justifying the expense, a trip to the veterinarian at least once per year will help ensure that Fido is in tip top shape. But more importantly, it will help your vet to detect minor changes before they become major problems.
As our dogs approach their senior years, they don’t feel as well as they once did in their youth. Sometimes it is necessary to give them pain medications that assist with age-related problems such as arthritis, degenerative disc disease, or even canine cognitive dysfunction. A side effect of many of these medications can be drowsiness.
If your pet suddenly begins to sleep a lot more than is typical for him and for no apparent reason, a trip to your favorite veterinary clinic is in order. As with all health changes in our beloved pets, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.
Does Fido really seem to enjoy his day time naps? If so, he’s in good company! All dogs need to sleep between 10-14 hours per day for optimum health and happiness. Maybe you should join Fido for a nap today!