Healthy dogs sleep a lot. They sleep so often that it’s usually very easy to notice when something has changed. If your dog has gone from taking up the entire couch for most of the day and night to pacing aimlessly at bedtime, something is amiss.
Insomnia is very rare in dogs, so it must be taken seriously. Your dog may not be experiencing true insomnia. There’s a chance a different underlying condition could be contributing to their symptoms.
Here’s what pet parents need to know about recognizing the signs of dog insomnia and helping their pets sleep through the night.
How Often Are Dogs Supposed To Sleep?
Your dog’s sleep requirements will change throughout the stages of their life. In general, dogs need a lot of sleep.
A healthy dog will sleep much more than a healthy human will. If your dog is getting significantly less sleep than they need for their age, this can be a sign that something is amiss.
Puppies can be energetic and feisty when awake, but they’re asleep for most of the day. Puppies grow very quickly, and for their body to finish growing, they need anywhere between 18 and 20 hours of sleep per day.
As your dog transitions into adulthood, their sleep requirements will mimic yours. Dogs should sleep at least eight hours daily but may sleep as long as 13 hours daily (seven to eight hours each night, and three to five hours during the day).
Senior dogs are not as energetic as they used to be, and that’s usually not something to be concerned about. It’s natural for a senior dog to sleep just as much as a puppy, snoozing for anywhere between 18 and 20 hours a day.
When Do Dogs Sleep?
Animals can be nocturnal, so they can be awake and alert at night. Diurnal animals, like humans, are most alert throughout the day. Crepuscular animals are most active at dusk and dawn. Dogs, however, sleep whenever they want to.
Dogs can sleep whenever they feel tired, like after a long play session. Most dogs will take their cues from you. You might notice that your dog wants to lie near you at night or take naps on the couch. They’ll usually settle into a schedule that closely matches yours and take a few naps throughout the day.
How Can I Tell if My Dog Is Getting Enough Sleep?
It might be hard to tell if your dog is getting enough sleep. If you work outside of your home or are often out and about, you won’t know if your dog is sleeping most of the time you’re gone. A good indicator that your dog isn’t getting enough sleep is their nighttime activity level.
If your dog often wakes you up pacing the house or whining while you’re trying to sleep, this is a concerning sign. Your dog should be taking sleep cues from you, sleeping at least part of the time you’re asleep.
Get a pet cam if you’re concerned about your dog’s sleep habits when you aren’t home. Check in on your phone to see what your dog is doing while you’re out. If you don’t spot your dog taking naps throughout the day, your dog might not get enough sleep.
Is My Dog Getting Enough Stimulation?
Dogs require a great deal of mental and physical stimulation. While most dogs sleep between seven and eight hours each night, and three to four hours during the day, the amount of stimulation they receive will play a role.
Ensure your dog has plenty of exercise, whether it is romps in the dog park, long walks, swimming or adequate time stretching their legs, playing fetch. Dogs need daily exercise, usually twice a day for both burning off excess energy, overall fitness, and to have the opportunity to sniff new smells and socialize. Mental stimulation occurs with games such as , engaging puzzle toys, hide and seek, or taking neighborhood walks and smelling everything along the way.. Doing so will ensure a balance in their sleep-wake cycle and support overall health and happiness.
What Are Signs My Dog Is Experiencing Insomnia?
It would be a full-time job to count every hour your dog sleeps. You can make observations based on changes in your dog’s habits and behaviors. Here are a few things to keep an eye on:
Changes in Sleep Patterns
Dogs tend to fall into patterns and routines. Puppies will change their routines as they grow into adult dogs, which is perfectly normal.
If your adult dog has almost always taken a nap at the same time every day and everything in their life has stayed the same, it would be unusual if they stopped taking that nap.
Changes in Temperament
You might feel grumpier and less outgoing if you don’t get enough sleep. Your dog will feel similar effects. Dogs who don’t sleep well may withdraw, be less playful, and appear irritable.
Lower Energy Levels Throughout the Day
Sleep restores energy. Without sleep, all living things will be tired. Your dog may lay awake most of the day, losing interest in playing.
Your dog may be difficult to take on walks and may limit visits to the backyard to just enough time to go potty.
What Causes Insomnia in Dogs?
Clinical insomnia in dogs is very rare. The symptoms of insomnia you see in your dog are usually the result of another condition making it difficult for your dog to sleep.
Pain or Discomfort
Your dog may be unable to find a comfortable position to fall asleep and stay asleep if they’re in pain or uncomfortable. If there’s any chance your dog may be injured, you need to take the situation seriously.
Joint discomfort is relatively common in older dogs. As they age, the cartilage supporting their joints will deteriorate. Joint discomfort can make older dogs hesitant to go on long walks.
They may stop jumping up on furniture if you usually allow them on your bed or couch. They’ll also have difficulty finding a position to sleep in. Your dog might circle their bed or frequently reposition themselves, interrupting their sleep.
Symptoms like nausea, diarrhea, and difficulty breathing can keep your dog up at night. Check your dog for signs of illness — changes in appetite and bathroom habits can indicate that your dog is experiencing digestive trouble. If your dog struggles to breathe or is often panting, they may have a respiratory health condition.
Kidney Disorders or Urinary Health Issues
If your dog is asking to go outside all day and all night or helping themselves through the doggy door, see if they are experiencing frequent urination.
Frequent urination can disrupt your dog’s sleep. It may indicate issues with kidney health or disorders of the urinary tract.
Canine Cognitive Dysfunction
Dogs, especially in their senior years, can experience canine cognitive dysfunction. Canine cognitive dysfunction is the dog equivalent of Alzheimer’s disease. It’s a type of dementia that can cause mental disorientation for your dog, including disruption in sleep patterns.
Other symptoms of canine cognitive dysfunction include dogs acting like they don’t recognize familiar environments or people. They may become generally irritable or restless and forget things like tricks and house rules they’ve been trained to follow or perform.
Sundowning refers to cognitive decline that presents in the evening. This can show up in a disruption of sleep patterns as well as irritability, being unresponsive to normal cues, and disorientation.
ElleVet’s CBD + CBDA can provide dogs support for cognitive function and both situational and general stress. If you suspect your pup’s insomnia symptoms might be a sign of sundowning, ElleVet’s CBD + CBDA products can offer cognitive support, which is important for maintaining a good quality of life.
ElleVet’s CBD + CBDA chews, soft gels, and oils can help put your dog’s mind at ease, helping them to address triggers that set off cognition-related insomnia calmly. In addressing your dog’s disorientation and stress, ElleVet’s CBD + CBDA can support overall well-being.
How Can I Help My Dog With Insomnia?
If your dog’s insomnia isn’t related to an urgent medical emergency, like an injury or severe illness, you can do several things to keep them comfortable. Older dogs might need extra support at bedtime, and you can give them what they need.
Provide a Comfortable Bed
Dogs with joint discomfort need extra support. They shouldn’t be sleeping on a hard floor, even if it was previously their favorite spot to nap. A thick, soft dog bed can cushion your dog’s joints, making it easier for them to find a position they can comfortably sleep in.
Create a Suitable Environment
Dogs have a tough time sleeping in too hot or cold environments. They also have a tough time sleeping in loud and distracting environments.
Your dog needs a quiet place at an appropriate temperature to sleep comfortably. You may need to move your dog’s sleeping area or change your home environment to support better sleep.
Provide Cognitive Support
Sundowning is common in dogs with cognitive dysfunction. It’s important to support your senior dog experiencing signs of cognitive decline. Supplements like brain-healthy omega fats can help support your dog in their older years.
Ensure Enough Exercise
Adequate physical activity is integral for a dog’s healthy and happy life. While different breeds and ages will have varied requirements, learning your dog’s needs is essential.
For some families, daily walks around the neighborhood will suffice. If your life is too hectic to provide your dog with regular exercise, find local dog parks or multi-acre daycares. While our schedules can become full, providing our dog with what they need physically will ensure that they have a balanced and fulfilled life.
And just like humans, tiring out a dog’s body will allow them to get adequate sleep at night. It is hard to sleep with pent-up energy, whether you are a dog or a person.
In Conclusion: You Can Help Your Dog Get Some Sleep
If your dog gets restless at bedtime, they might need extra help from you. Providing a comfortable place to sleep, holistically supporting your dog’s wellness, and introducing supplements into your dog’s routine can help ease insomnia symptoms so your dog can get some sleep.
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