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Dogs love to sleep. No matter how old your furry friend is, you are no doubt already used to seeing your dog asleep at random times of the day. As dog’s age, however, they do begin to sleep more.
If you have a senior dog at home, you may have noticed several changes in your dog’s behavior, and one of these significant changes might be how much they sleep.
But how much sleep is too much sleep for senior dogs? Is there such a thing as too much sleep for an old dog? Should you be worried about how much your dog sleeps, and if so, at what point should you start to worry?
It’s only natural for senior dogs to sleep a lot more. Often, it’s not about the number of hours your pooch sleeps but other behavioral factors around sleep that you need to be cautious of.
In this article, we will examine how many hours a senior dog sleeps a day. We’ll discuss what you should look out for and what may be cause for concern.
Senior dogs can sleep 20 hours a day, so don’t worry if your older dog always seems to be asleep!
They have less energy to expel, so they’ll often swap their exercise time for sleeping. This might impact their nighttime sleep and make them more active during the night.
Help them through this change by providing plenty of mental stimulation and comfort throughout the night.
Leave a light on if they’re suffering from loss of sight. If you’re worried about your dog’s sleeping habits, it’s always best to talk to your vet.
“I love sleeping. I have the best dreams.”
What do you dream about?
“Running through grassy fields, chasing tennis balls, and a food bowl that never empties.”
All of your favourite things!
Like any other mammal, all dogs need to get a decent amount of sleep to remain healthy and full of energy. Before we discuss whether senior dogs can sleep too much, we should identify how much they sleep on average.
You may be surprised to know how long senior dogs can actually sleep and that it’s very similar to puppies!
Puppies need a large amount of sleep.
They spend their waking hours playing, developing, and learning, meaning they need lots of time to recharge and gather their energy for their next busy day of fun.
Dogs under one year old should sleep for around 18 hours a day.
Puppies aren’t always good at putting themselves to sleep and, like human babies and toddlers, often need some encouragement, or they may fall asleep in the most random places.
As dogs finish growing and become adult dogs, the amount of sleep they need decreases. They no longer need to sleep to develop, just to recharge from the day’s activities.
The amount of sleep an adult dog needs will vary greatly depending on breed, activity level, and age. It can be anything from 8 hours to 14 hours.
The type of sleep that adult dogs get can vary greatly as well. Very active dogs, especially working dogs, rarely nap during the day because they don’t have the time to spare.
Instead, they will sleep deeply and soundly throughout the night. Less active and smaller dogs may nap throughout the day and sleep at night too.
You will soon understand the number of hours and sleeping pattern that is best for your adult dog.
As dogs enter their senior years, the amount of sleep they need increases again.
Their energy levels start to decrease naturally, meaning they need more sleep to be energetic during their waking hours.
Some senior dogs can sleep up to 20 hours a day, so depending on your schedule and when you’re at home, it really can feel like your pooch is sleeping the entire day away.
Older dogs experience a change in the type of sleep they experience, too. They’ll start to have longer stretches of deep sleep, so don’t be alarmed if you notice this.
Older dogs sleep deeper because they often experience hearing loss as they age, so they’ll sleep through most of the sounds that once alerted them out of their slumber.
“No wonder I’ve been feeling so well rested lately!”
That’s right! You might notice that your dog stops following you around the house. Don’t be alarmed.
They’re just getting their well-deserved rest. If you’re worried about your dog’s behavior, though, it’s always best to consult a vet.
The timings we’ve given in these sections are general. Some dogs will naturally need more sleep, and others will get by on less, so don’t worry if your dog doesn’t fit the ranges we’ve given.
Dogs need different amounts of sleep based on their activity on any given day.
If your dog’s sleeping patterns change rapidly, however, this may be a cause for concern and a sign of an underlying problem. As dogs age, they will slowly increase their need for sleep.
“Sleeping so many hours doesn’t sound bad.”
More time for doggy dreams, right?
“Exactly! But why do senior dogs need so much sleep?”
There are several reasons for this. Let’s look at them now.
These individual issues can contribute to your dog needing to sleep more.
Other factors can also be at play.
Senior dogs increase the amount of sleep they’ll have in the daytime – they’ll want a nap after each walk and prefer cuddling up on the sofa rather than playing.
This reduction in awake time throughout the day can impact their nighttime sleep.
“I don’t like not being able to hear or see as well as I used to, and I get a little afraid of the dark.”
No one likes change, so it’s normal for dogs to become restless when the house turns quiet and dark.
They’re unable to use their senses as well as they used to, so they might pace around and suffer from dog insomnia.
Some owners find that their senior dogs become nocturnal, sleeping in the day and being awake most of the night.
You need to help your dog adjust to their new senses to combat this.
Soothing light or music can help them calm down and rest throughout the night.
You might lose some sleep as you both adjust to this new stage of life, but your dog should soon start to accept their new normal.
“If senior dogs can sleep for so long, how do you know if it is something to be concerned about?”
In most cases, it’s nothing to worry about at all.
“But in some cases it is?”
Yes, if your senior dog suddenly starts sleeping much longer than expected, this can indicate an underlying problem.
You should also keep a close eye on their energy levels and note any sudden changes. For example, if a dog that eagerly enjoys walks suddenly has no energy for them, this is a warning sign.
If your dog seems distressed while they sleep, this can be another sign of a problem.
It’s not unusual for dogs to twitch, move, or make noises in their sleep, but you should consult a veterinarian if they seem to be in pain.
Signs of pain include aggression, whining, hiding away, excessive grooming, or lethargy.
There are other symptoms that, when combined with a change in sleep, can also point to underlying conditions.
These include loss of appetite, sudden weight gain or loss, changes in their coat, breathing difficulties, and drinking too much water.
If in doubt, consult with a veterinarian.
Mental stimulation is just as important for dogs as physical exercise and can be even more important for seniors. This is a great way to keep their minds working without exerting too much energy.
Good options to try are treat cages and snuffle mats. Dogs love reward-based games, and what better reward is there than a few of their favourite treats?
“I can vouch for that!”
Other sources of mental stimulation include training sessions (keep them short and sweet) and puzzle games.
Just because your dog has lower energy levels in their old age doesn’t mean they don’t want their minds exercised! This can even give them a boost of energy and improve their mood.
Daisy Chan is an experienced writer at KnowMyDog.com who is dedicated to providing senior dog owners with the knowledge and resources they need to take care of their aging pets. Her expertise in dog care and nutrition, coupled with her exceptional writing skills, has made her an essential part of the KnowMyDog.com team. Through her writing, Daisy shares her knowledge on a wide range of topics related to senior dog health and wellness, from exercise tips to advice on managing chronic health conditions.
Daisy’s passion for dogs and her commitment to excellence have made her a trusted source of information for pet owners seeking guidance on how to care for their senior dogs. Her ability to distill complex information into easy-to-understand articles has earned her a loyal following among dog owners who appreciate her expertise and her ability to make difficult topics accessible. Overall, Daisy’s work at KnowMyDog.com has made a significant impact in the pet industry, and her dedication to helping senior dogs and their owners is sure to continue benefiting countless pets and their human companions for years to come.