Just like in humans, sleep is important for growth and the health and wellbeing of your dog. Sleep allows downtime for the body to recharge and gives your dog more energy during the day.
How much sleep do dogs need?
The average dog spends at least half of their day sleeping but this can vary depending on their age, breed and activity level. Their sleep is a combination of naps during the day and a bigger sleep at night. Puppies have bursts of energy but they also spend a lot of time sleeping. A puppy may spend 15-20 hours / day asleep but they need this to ensure their nervous system and muscles develop properly. Senior dogs have less energy and tend to sleep more, sometimes up to 18 hours a day.
Things to look out for
While dogs are the masters of daytime snoozing, if your dog is sleeping more or less than usual it is important that you get them checked out by your vet. Some reasons for concern include - if your dog seems lethargic during the day and always appears tired, if they are constantly snoring or having difficulty breathing when asleep or if there are other changes to their behaviour like increased thirst or a change to their bowel movements. There are also several health conditions such as diabetes and hypothyroidism that can cause increased sleep or change in sleep patterns. Sometimes a change to routine such as moving house or a new baby or pet in the family can cause changes to sleep patterns.
Senior dogs can suffer from cognitive disorders and you may find them awake during the night and acting confused and disorientated – its similar to dementia in humans so best to discuss with your vets early if you start to see these types of behaviours occur.
Do Dogs Dream?
Experts believe that dogs do have dreams along the lines of those that humans do. Like us, they dream during the REM cycle of their sleep and owners often report seeing their dog twitching or paddling their legs during their sleep – this is in response to their dreams. It is thought that dogs can relive daytime experiences in their dreams such as chasing and playing.
A daily routine can help your dog have a great sleep and just like us, regular exercise can help tire them out and improve the quality of their sleep. If a dog naps most of the day, they are less likely to sleep right through the night.
Make sure your dog has a comfortable bed that is placed away from draughts and is in safe and cosy place where they know they can relax and won’t be disturbed. Teach children they are not to bother their dog when they are on their bed or sleeping and not to wake a sleeping dog as that may startle them.
When choosing a bed, look for one that is easy to clean and has enough space for your dog to stretch out. Some dogs love to snuggle in to their bed and like the comfort of high walls. The Snooza Calming Cuddler is great for both curlers and sprawlers and they really do sink down into the bed to get that feeling of security plus with removable covers the whole bed is easy to wash (even the soft filled inserts are fully machine washable) and can be topped up over time with extra filling to customize the level of comfort and support for your dog.
A supportive bed is essential for older dogs and as they may be suffering from sore joints, I recommend an Orthopaedic foam bed that is easy for a dog to step in and out of such as the Snooza Ortho Sofa or The Snooza Orthobed, or a walled option such as the Snooza Ortho Snuggler would suitable for those dogs that do not have mobility issues but still may suffer from stiffness or soreness.
Just like your bedding, dogs bedding needs to be kept fresh too. Make sure you regularly air and wash your dog's bedding, especially in the spring and summer months to freshen them up and help keep fleas away.