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Why does my dog sleep so much?

Posted in Anxiety & Nervousness on Jul 09, 2009

Why does my dog sleep so much and how much is normal?

You may find it hard to believe, but adult dogs can sleep for as much as 12 hours out of 24! This does vary with the breed of the dog; the larger breeds tend to need a bit more sleep than other breeds. You’ll also find that growing pups also need more nap time, and over the course of a day and night, they’ll snooze for anything up to 16 hours. Although dogs sleep more than we do, they also wake more frequently, so they tend not to get a long period of unbroken sleep.

These figures vary - a dog with an active lifestyle will obviously sleep more than a couch potato. Also, if you’re out at work all day, there may be nothing for your dog to do, and he may sleep just because he’s bored.

Dogs can have rapid eye movement (REM) sleep, just as we do. They may twitch, yelp and move their legs as if they’re running. They can look quite funny. Most vets will agree that dogs do dream during these REM phases.

Sleeping Like A Baby

You can expect your baby puppy to sleep a lot, but there are some pups that seem to sleep way more than they should. These pups may be unwell. If you’re concerned about how much your pup is sleeping, it would be a good idea to have him checked by your vet. He may have a simple infection, or he may have a congenital defect such as a liver shunt, which can make him very ill.

On the other hand, some pups are like naughty children, and just will not go to sleep at bedtime! These pups need to learn what bedtime is all about. It’s a good idea to teach them to go to bed in a warm cozy crate, so when they go into the crate, they know it’s sleep time. If they’re noisy, don’t pat them or talk to them, that only gives them attention when they do the wrong thing. If they’re particularly raucous, you may need to put their crate in another part of your house. A gentle tonic such as Sleepytime Tonic will help relax your restless pup, and allow both of you to have a good night’s rest.

Let Sleeping Dogs Lie

As they age, dogs can naturally sleep more, but again, if they’re sleeping excessively, it can be an indication that they have a health problem. These dogs may have an underactive thyroid gland which can slow down their metabolism. They will usually gain weight and will generally act more sluggish. A simple blood test will tell you if your dog has a thyroid problem, and giving him thyroid hormone in tablet form can have him back to normal in no time.

Another cause of excessive sleepiness in an elderly dog is heart disease. If his heart isn’t pumping blood around his body efficiently, he’ll tire very quickly, and you’ll notice he’s not as active as usual. Again, have your vet examine him; the appropriate medication will make a big difference to his well being.

When older dogs don’t settle at night, it can be a nightmare for their owners. Some elderly dogs pace the floor, and are anxious and just can’t get comfortable. It can be very hard to get up to go to work the next day, if your old dog has kept you awake all night!

There are few possible causes for this behavior, but unfortunately it’s not always easy to figure out what’s going on. Your first step is to have some blood tests done to make sure there aren’t any health issues that aren’t obvious from the outside.

In many cases, vets can’t find a reason for this behavior, and all you can do is try a range of treatments to see if any of them bring relief.

There is a condition in elderly dogs known as geriatric cognitive dysfunction. It basically means they are going a little senile with age. They tend to have abnormal sleep/wake cycles, which may cause night waking, restlessness, anxiety and barking. Treatment for your dog can include anti-anxiety medication, sedatives or natural calming tonics such as Sleepytime Tonic to help you both get some sleep.

Some old dogs can be unsettled because of arthritis. If their joints are sore, they may find it very hard to get comfortable when they lie down. Pain relief can make a big difference to these dogs, and vets will usually suggest a trial of anti-arthritis medication to see if it makes any difference.

Unfortunately some of these old dogs are very wakeful and restless because they have a brain tumor. Your vet can advise you best on how to manage this, but there may not be much you can do for these old souls.

Help Me Make It Through The Night

There are steps you can take to help dogs of any age have a restful night, so you’re both recharged and ready for the next day. Crate training is a great idea to teach your dog that when he’s in his crate, it’s sleep time. A good walk in the afternoon can help him expend any excess energy, and he’ll sleep better in a quiet environment without distractions.

Sleepytime Tonic is a relaxing elixir which will help to relax your dog, ready for bedtime. Its gentle combination of herbs and homeopathic medicines are completely safe, and work gently to relax even the most restless dog. It’s a valuable addition to your doggy tool kit, no matter how old your dog.

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