brown dog laying on red pillow

Is Your Dog Becoming a Napping Pet As They Age?

It’s natural for older dogs and senior dogs to require more sleep and napping as they age. However, there are key distinctions of a natural process or something that you should bring up to your vet.

According to Helpemup.com, as humans age, we often sleep less deeply and wake up more during the night, causing many of us to take naps during the day (if we can get away with it). According to the Sleep Foundation, healthy adults need seven to nine hours of sleep nightly.

shallow focus photo of long-coated white and brown dog

Many of our dogs sleep more than we do. Adult dogs generally sleep 12 – 14 hours/day, whereas puppies and older dogs require more, ranging from 15 – 18 hours/day. Unlike humans who generally receive eight hours of consecutive sleep, dogs sleep on and off throughout the day. In fact, 30% of a dog’s day is resting, while 20% is consumed with activity.

Here are a list of the 15 dog breeds that love to sleep the most:

  • Bull dogs
  • Shih Tzu
  • Mastiff
  • Bassett Hound
  • French bulldog
  • Pekingese
  • Greyhound
  • Lhasa Apso
  • Cavalier King Charles Spaniel
  • Saint Bernard
  • Chow Chow
  • Great Dane
  • Cocker Spaniel
  • Pug
  • Great Pyrenees

BeChewy.com reports on How Much Should Senior Dogs Sleep?

Normal Aging Changes In Dogs

The age when your older dog is officially considered a senior depends on his breed. Because large and giant breed dogs typically have shorter life expectancies, they are considered seniors around 6 or 7 years of age; smaller breeds that live considerably longer are not considered seniors until they are around 10 or 11. Regardless of when your dog is considered older, the hallmark aging changes tend to appear subtly. His muzzle may gray. His hearing may decline, and he may not rise as quickly when you call him. He may no longer enjoy brisk jogs at your side or engage in rough-and-tumble play at the dog park. It is also perfectly normal for an older dog to sleep more of the day away — up to 16 or 18 hours even. However, some of these hours will be passed in quiet rest and not true sleep.

Oversleeping In Dogs

While it is normal for senior dogs to sleep more, there is such a thing as too much sleep. Oversleeping in the geriatric dog can result from a medical problem. Any time a dog is ill or in pain, such as when he suffers from osteoarthritis, he may retreat and spend more time sleeping. Osteoarthritis is a progressive disease in dogs that affects the joints, usually after a lifetime of wear and tear. Because dogs are much more stoic than we are, arthritis may easily go undetected for years in dogs. Your veterinarian will be able to diagnose this condition and provide therapy to keep your older dog’s quality of life high.

Another common medical cause of excessive sleepiness in dogs is hypothyroidism. Hypothyroidism is common in middle-aged and older dogs. It occurs when there is a decrease in thyroid hormone levels in your dog’s blood. Thyroid hormones help maintain a healthy metabolism; therefore hypothyroid dogs tend to sleep more, act sluggish when awake and are prone to obesity. The onset of clinical signs is most often gradual and includes a dull coat, reluctance to exercise and heat-seeking behaviors. This hormone imbalance can have detrimental affects on many body systems, including the cardiovascular system; fortunately, it is easily managed with oral medication.

woman in blue button up shirt smiling

Improve Your Dog’s Sleep Habits

If your senior dog has trouble sleeping, you can easily incorporate many practical options into his lifestyle and home to help him (and you) get a good night’s rest.

  1. Provide a more comfy dog bed. Senior dogs typically experience some degree of lost muscle tone and joint pain. An orthopedic dog bed, such as the Frisco Ortho textured sofa, is a welcome addition to Rover’s lifestyle, along with strategically placed dog steps to allow him to reach his favorite high spots pain-free.
  2. Don’t stop exercising! Improved muscle tone makes sleeping more comfortable for your senior dog, so do your best to keep him active and at an appropriate weight. While he may have previously enjoyed intense aerobic games, long walks may now be his new preferred outing. Choose activities that are gentle on aging joints but still useful at keeping off extra pounds.
  3. Asses any vision problems. If his vision seems to be worsening and he wanders and whines an unusual amount strictly at night, try adding a nightlight to see if this reduces the behavior.
  4. Consult your veterinarian. With aging comes inevitable changes, but don’t mistakenly assume that sleeping more is just a normal part of aging. It’s entirely possible that there’s a treatable medical condition behind your dog’s change in sleeping patterns, so seek veterinary advice when in doubt.

WagWalking.com shares that dogs will slow down as they age, it’s just a fact of life—for humans and canines. But there are things you can do to help. Keep your vet updated on your dog’s health and bring them in if they begin to exhibit sudden symptoms. Let your dog rest when they want to, often resting far more during the day than they ever used to.

You can be proactive in your dog’s health by keeping them on an appropriate high-quality food. For older dogs who may not be able to burn calories as well as younger dogs, a higher-protein, lower-fat food may be best. Consult your vet for recommendations on supplements and an age-appropriate food.

black dog lying on bed

Orvis reports that when your adult dog becomes a senior canine citizen —around the age of seven—you can expect her naps to grow steadily longer. She’ll tire more easily from exertion and need more time to replenish her energy. It’s also normal to see changes in the timing of her naps. Older dogs often sleep more during the day and have more bouts of wakefulness at night. However, any sudden and significant changes in your older dog’s sleep, such as sleeping through the bustling evening hours in your household, or getting no sleep at night, could indicate an illness and require a visit to the veterinarian.

The following are common ailments in older dogs that can contribute to sleep disturbances:

  • Dementia – Some decline in brain function is expected as dogs age, but severe cognitive decline isn’t normal and only afflicts some dogs. Also known as dementia in dogs, a common symptom of the disorder is a change in the sleep-wake cycle. This is the result of physical changes in the brain, as well as anxiety caused by increased confusion and disorientation. If your dog is showing signs of cognitive decline, including changes in sleep, changes in behavior towards family members, disorientation or accidents in the house, bring her to the veterinarian. Treatment options include medication, nutritional changes, and lifestyle modifications that are more effective earlier in the course of the illness.
  • Arthritis in Dogs – If your older dog is unable to settle into a comfortable position for sleep, canine osteoarthritis may be to blame. In this instance, pain is preventing your dog from getting the rest she needs. Osteoarthritis is a chronic degenerative disease, and treatment options—including an orthopedic dog bed, joint supplements, and other modalities—are available and more effective when introduced early.
  • Hypothyroidism – Common in middle-aged and senior dogs, hypothyroidism is caused by a drop in the thyroid hormones that help regulate your dog’s metabolism. The condition causes excessive sleep, sluggishness when awake, and obesity, but is easily treated with medication.
  • Increased Need for Walks – Your older dog probably needs to “go” more often. Give her a chance to relieve herself outside just before bedtime to help curb nighttime potty breaks. Urinary incontinence can also disturb your dog’s sleep because of wetness, cold and irritation from urine that leaks out without your dog’s awareness. Talk to your dog’s veterinarian about medical interventions and products to keep your dog more comfortable, and your house clean

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