You might envy your dog when he curls up in the sunny spot of the floor to catch an hour of sleep in the afternoon. But some pet owners become concerned that may be their dog might be sleeping too much. Dogs do sleep a lot more than humans do, so most of the time extra sleep is not a cause for concern. Sometimes, though, too much sleep can mean something is wrong.
Here’s what every pet owner should know about dog sleeping patterns and when sleep might indicate illness.
How Much Sleep Do Dogs Need?
The answer to this question is highly depended on the dog’s age and breed.
Some adult dogs are naturally more active, only sleeping around 12 hours a day. Other dogs may sleep around 14 or 15 hours per day. Puppies are another story. Puppies need 18 hours of sleep per day at minimum; they are learning and growing at a remarkable pace and the extra rest is essential for development. Elderly dogs will rest more as they age.
Some breeds are even sleepier; they may not need the extra sleep, but it’s still a favorite pastime. Mastiffs and Great Danes are especially famous for their “large lap dog” nature. Some high-energy dogs, like greyhounds, also catch extra naps when they can. Sprinting and jumping require plenty of energy, and the extra rest can help with muscle repair.
When Might Excess Sleep Be a Medical Problem?
Now that you know how much your dog should be sleeping in a day, you can start to track whether your dog has a normal sleep pattern. If you notice your dog is sleeping like a puppy instead of a full-grown adult, it could indicate an illness like:
Hypothyroidism. Like humans, dog scan also feel sluggish and worn down with an under-active thyroid, which helps govern the metabolism. With a slower-than-optimal metabolism, your dog will simply feel tired more often.
Diabetes. Dogs can get diabetes. Your dog uses glucose for fuel. If his cells are not able to access glucose, the precious fuel is excreted instead of utilized. Your dog will become lethargic.
Depression. Yes, dogs experience depression in a manner similar to humans. A major life event, such as the loss of a loved caregiver or even the departure of a fellow household dog can cause depression. Dogs will have little motivation to do much, and sleeping becomes the alternative activity.
Distemper. This fatal disease is caused by a viral infection. Dogs who have updated vaccinations are typically not at risk. Upon infection, your dog will experience cold symptoms like fever and runny nose, along with an almost total loss of energy.
Some parasites and less-severe illnesses can also cause tiredness in dogs.
When Should Dog Owners Be Concerned?
So is your dog just getting older, or is there something actually wrong? Here are a few things to consider:
Changes in Activity
This is one of the biggest indicators that something might be wrong. Did your dog experience a 180-degree turnaround in behavior and preferences within a short period of time?
For example, your dog may have been the first to greet guests at the door or consistently pulled at the leash to go faster during walks. A marked change in behavior would mean that your dog became less than enthusiastic for visitors and walks, hardly even willing to get up from the floor or bed.
Changes in activity can be indicative of a few illnesses, most notably hypothyroidism, depression, or diabetes. Other symptoms can help you discern where the problem lies.
Try to track when behavior changes occur. If you noticed the difference only after you visited a new dog park or dog boarding facility, you should talk to your vet about possible infections.
Significant Life Changes
Life changes should be assessed when considering depression. Death or loss of a kennelmate or master was listed above, but other life events can lead to depression in dogs, including:
- Changes in health. Your dog can develop depression after surgery, especially when restricted in movement during recovery.
- Moving to a new home. Dogs can become attached to a specific “den” and may struggle when moved to a new place.
- Injury to you or a family member. You might have had an injury that prevents you from caring for your dog in the manner he was used to. For example, if you went on daily walks but then broke your leg and were unable to walk your dog, he may experience depression because of the change.
If you suspect depression is the reason your dog is sleeping so much, talk to your vet. Some dogs get over depression on their own. Others may need further treatment.
Other Troubling Symptoms
Whenever sleeping too much is accompanied by other symptoms, like appetite loss, extreme thirst, reduced circulation, or fever, you should contact your vet immediately.
For more information, contact us at 1st Pet Veterinary Centers.