Have you ever watched your dog napping — yet again — and thought, “my dog sleeps all day”? You’re not alone. One (of the many!) awesome things about dogs is that they get to sleep as much as they want. Who can blame them either? We would love unlimited opportunities to sleep in!
Thankfully, your dog isn’t actively trying to make you jealous with his sleep habits. In fact, it’s completely normal for dogs to spend most of the day sleeping away. Here are some things to know when you’re thinking “my dog sleeps all day.”
According to Dr. Evan Antin, a veterinarian at Conejo Valley Veterinary Hospital in Thousand Oaks, California, dogs generally sleep about 12 to 14 hours a day. Dr. Antin points out that how much a dog sleeps depends a lot on this age, breed and activity level.
“Some breeds tend to be sleepier breeds. Your French and English Bulldogs, they like to lounge, sleep and take it easy,” Dr. Antin says. “For dogs that are more active, such as working dogs, they’ll sleep less since they’re busier.”
Age plays a big part in how much a dog sleeps, too. For example, a puppy tends to sleep up to 16 to 18 hours a day, since growing up takes up a lot of energy. Older dogs spend almost the same amount of time asleep as puppies, which can be due to a number of factors. Senior dogs are often less active, or it may hurt for them to move due to joint pain or arthritis.
Another reason your dog sleeps all day or at least most of it? The lifestyle we provide dogs doesn’t give them much else to do.
Let Dr. Antin explain.
“Our domesticated pet dogs may sleep more than they need to simply because they have less stimulation and less stressors in their environments that would otherwise give them reasons to be active,” he says. “That is, they don’t need to hunt, find and/or create dens, escape and hide from predators, find mates, etc.”
He compared that to our dogs’ wild cousins. “Wolves and coyotes, etc., have to hunt, find mates, etc., in the wild in order to survive and pass on their genes. When pets live under the care of humans, all of their needs to ‘survive’ are handed to them — that is, food, water and shelter. They’re typically also neutered, so the drive to reproduce is also absent.”
While it might be nice to have free room and board, it can also lead to dogs sleeping more — just for a lack of something to do. And, let’s be honest, that’s preferable to them tearing up the walls (if your dog is doing that, here are some boredom busters). However, it might be worth asking yourself if a dog sleeping out of boredom is healthy for him or not.
Health issues may also cause a dog to sleep more than usual. “Hormonal imbalances and diseases, like hypothyroidism, can make a dog sleep more,” Dr. Antin explains. “Any other underlying metabolic disease or illness that is taxing on a dog’s body can cause decreased energy, too.”
And cancer or any illness that affects a dog’s body can mean your dog sleeps all day — or at least a lot of it, he adds.
When our dogs spend so much time asleep, it’s hard to tell if it’s due to medical issues. If you can’t rule out normal factors like age, Dr. Antin says to look for other signs. For example, if your dog isn’t as active as he used to be, plus he’s not eating as much but is gaining weight, that might be hypothyroidism or another metabolic issue.
Basically, if you think your dog sleeps all day, look for other signs that something might be wrong. Then, head to your veterinarian for a checkup.
On the flipside, sometimes a dog might not get enough sleep. “I have patients with respiratory issues like sleep apnea, or who are too overweight to breathe well, that aren’t getting enough sleep, ” Dr. Antin says. “That can lead to chronic fatigue and low energy levels.” However, Dr. Antin says, those cases are really rare.
Another case where a dog might not be sleeping as much is with older, senile dogs. Their schedules might get turned around, and they may sleep less at night due to them wandering around confused. It may not be too much of an issue though — Dr. Antin points out that they tend to make up for it during the day.
While it’s easy to be jealous of your dog’s sleeping habits (I know I am sometimes), it turns out that how our dogs sleep is a lot like how we do. According to Live Science, dogs go through “stages of wakefulness, rapid-eye-movement (REM) sleep and non-rapid-eye-movement sleep.” During the REM stage, your dog is most likely dreaming and you might see him reacting to it. He’ll twitch, move his feet or even yip out loud. Watching your dog dream can be both adorable and hilarious — either way, when it happens, you’ll be glad that you’re awake to see it.
Thumbnail: Photography ©Lindsay_Helms | Thinkstock.
This piece was originally published in 2017.