If you find your dog is often asleep during the day, don't fret—while it's normal for dogs to sleep through the night, many dogs also spend much of the day asleep. But, if excessive sleeping has become an issue with your pup, it might be time to get down to the bottom of it.
Changes in sleeping patterns can be a result of aging or disease, which is why you should keep a close eye on your dog's sleep cycle. Here's how to encourage activity in your dog to keep them awake during the day, plus how to know when to seek help.
Why Dogs Sleep So Much
Studies suggest that many dogs sleep an average of at least 11 hours in a 24-hour cycle. Additionally, they take many resting periods with the smallest portion of the day devoted to activity.
Most dogs will sleep more when they are relaxed and there isn't a good motivation for them to be active. Since they don’t have smartphones, jobs, or homework, sleeping is a way for them to pass the day, especially if they are home alone.
How much your dog sleeps will depend on a variety of factors:
- Very young puppies and older dogs will likely spend more of their time asleep.
- Overweight and sick dogs may also sleep more than healthy dogs.
- Certain breeds are predisposed towards sleeping more (ask someone who’s owned a slow-moving Bernese mountain dog versus a working-line border collie).
Of course, hours and hours of snoozing can also be a sign of a health problem. Many diseases and age-related problems can come with a change in sleeping patterns.
In most cases, a dog that sleeps for 12ish hours per day is no cause for concern. That’s normal! But owners should be aware that excess sleep can also be a sign of potential problems, especially if you notice a sudden change in the amount your dog is sleeping. It's best to talk to your vet when you have these concerns.
How to Make Your Dog’s Day More Exciting
Since most dogs don’t go to work or school, it’s common for them to be bored if they are alone for long stretches of the day. Pair a long, lonely day with the hours that their human is asleep, and that’s a long time for your dog to spend sleeping every day! If it feels like your dog is sleeping his days away, consider what else he’s got to do with his time.
The best way to help your dog stay awake and active during the day is to provide lots of interesting toys, games, and activities. For example, puzzle toys can be a great way to keep your pup busy. Ranging from super-easy ways to hide their food (rolling treats inside of a towel or an egg carton) to the high-tech (the CleverPet), puzzle toys help keep your dog active during the day. Checking in on your dog using a dog camera can help you check to see if she’s playing with the puzzle toys or ignoring them.
You can also spice up your dog’s day with midday dog walks and more prolonged bouts of exercise in the morning and evening. Some dogs may also enjoy a doggy daycare setting where they can play with other dogs all day long.
If you notice that your dog is sleeping even when there are exciting things to do, or if your dog is no longer engaging with things that he used to, it's a good idea to speak with your veterinarian.
When to Get Help
Generally, it’s pretty standard for your dog to spend a portion of the day asleep or resting. That said, too much sleep can be a sign of a problem with your dog’s health.
There are a few tell-tale signs that your dog is sleeping too much:
- Your dog’s sleep patterns have changed.
- Your dog sleeps even when there’s “something better to do,” especially if that thing would usually grab her attention in the past.
- Your dog’s sleeping is interfering with eating or drinking.
- It’s hard to rouse your dog from sleep
- The increase in sleep comes with other physical symptoms, such as:
- Limping or lameness.
- Unwillingness to walk, run, or jump.
- An increase or decrease in eating, urination, or defecation.
- Vomiting, diarrhea, coughing, or difficulty breathing
- The increase in sleep comes with other behavior problems, such as:
- Staring at corners or walls.
- An increase in aggression or fearfulness.
- Pacing and other signs of anxiety.
Some of these signs might have developed slowly over time, especially in older dogs. It is always important to mention it to your vet as there may be ways to make your dog more comfortable in their golden years.
Your vet will likely have a lot of questions and may need to run some tests. Dogs that are sleeping more or reluctant to get up may be suffering from aches or pains like arthritis or more acute injuries, endocrine disorders such as hypothyroidism or diabetes, or have other medical conditions related to heart disease, neurological problems, or other conditions. Getting a thorough workup from your vet, which will include a complete physical exam, blood work and possibly other tests, can help uncover the cause and get your pup feeling her best again.
Try to keep track of your dog’s sleep patterns and any other symptoms. Make sure she’s a healthy weight and that she has plenty to do during the day to enrich her alone time. If she’s still sleeping an unusual amount, it might be time to see the vet.
Senior pet care FAQ. American Veterinary Medical Foundation.
Kinsman, Rachel et al. Sleep Duration and Behaviours: A Descriptive Analysis of a Cohort of Dogs up to 12 Months of Age. Animals : an open access journal from MDPI, vol. 10, no. 7 pp. 1172, 2020. doi:10.3390/ani10071172
Pathogenesis of Endocrine Disease in Animals. Merck Veterinary Manual.