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Why is My Dog Sleeping More Than Usual? Should I Worry?

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Most dogs sleep throughout the night as well as for much of the day. As humans, we’re used to sleeping only at night when it’s dark outside and staying up all day. Unlike humans, dogs sleep for small periods throughout the night and day. It may seem like they’re sleeping a lot, but it’s not always the case – many dogs sleep about 11 hours in a day.

So, when is it time to worry? Like other predators, dogs have short sleep-and-wake cycles, and some breeds just sleep more. However, sleeping can sometimes indicate a problem, such as stress, separation anxiety, or illness.

Learn more about a dog’s normal sleep patterns and how to tell if something is wrong.

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Why Dogs Sleep

dog sleeping curled up
Image Credit: ddzphoto, Pixabay

Carnivores sleep for most of the day, on and off. Dogs aren’t much different. They don’t have homework or chores or smartphones to occupy them, so they sleep when things are calm. Conversely, dogs also wake up and are fully alert in mere seconds.

How much your dog may sleep depends on the following factors:
  • Age: Puppies and senior dogs will sleep more than middle-aged dogs
  • Weight: Overweight and ill dogs will sleep more than healthy dogs in an attempt to heal
  • Breed: Some breeds just sleep more than others

If your dog seems to sleep more than usual, or struggles to wake up, it could be a sign of a problem. Some age-related problems and illnesses can manifest with lethargy, such as parvovirus, distemper, heartworm, and leptospirosis.

Generally, a dog that sleeps for around 12 hours a day isn’t a cause for concern. Pay attention to your dog’s sleep cycles and other behaviors, such as appetite, activity level, and alertness, before worrying about an underlying condition.


Give Your Pup Something to Do

dog staring at his sleeping master
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While we work or go to school, dogs are alone all day. Then, we go to bed at night, and again our dogs are alone with nothing to do. If you think your dog sleeps too much, it may be that it doesn’t have much else to do.

If you want to stave off boredom and give your dog more enrichment during the day, try interventions like puzzle toys. These toys use challenges like hiding a treat and making your dog find it under a cup or inside of a ball. Toys can be simple or complex, so you can start with an easier option and upgrade to a harder one.

You can also give your dog a midday walk if you can take the time from work during your lunch break. If not, hire a dog walker to give your dog a brisk afternoon walk. Or, you may want to take your dog in the morning or evening when you’re home to give them some exercise and bonding time.


When to Seek Veterinary Attention

dog anesthesia with veterinary treatment
Image credit: thirawatana phaisalratana, Shutterstock

In most cases, you’ll notice an increase in sleeping with other symptoms, such as inappetence or obvious pain. Still, dogs can be good at hiding their issues, so sleep may be the first indicator that something is wrong.

Here are some things to look out for:
  • Changes in sleep patterns
  • Sleeping when you offer alternatives, like play or food
  • Less eating or drinking
  • Difficulty waking up
  • Narcolepsy, or falling asleep randomly
  • Waking suddenly, looking scared or upset
  • Weakness, lameness, or limping
  • Struggling to walk or get up
  • An increase in aggression
  • Pacing or drooling

Some of these signs may indicate age-related problems, such as arthritis or dementia, while others may indicate other health problems like hypothyroidism. Have your vet examine your dog to determine the underlying cause.

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Why Does My Dog Sleep So Much?

Dogs sleep a lot, but it’s mostly because they don’t have a lot else to do. Give your dog enrichment through walks, playtime, or puzzle toys. If you still notice your dog is sleeping a lot and showing other signs of illness like inappetence or weakness, it’s time to see a vet.

Featured Image: Quisquilia, Shutterstock

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