Why Do Dogs Sleep So Much? (The Surprising Answer)
by Jessi Larson
If your dog is a great sleeper at night and you catch them dozing off throughout the day, you may be wondering: Why do dogs sleep so much?
As humans, we are used to sleeping at night and maybe taking one nap during the day – if we are lucky! So seeing your dog sleeping so much can sometimes cause worry in pup parents.
We’ve certainly felt this way about our dog Toby. When he was young, he had insatiable energy and barely stopped moving throughout the day. Then suddenly, he started sleeping more and more. We wondered if this was normal.
In this post, we’ll go over some reasons for why dogs sleep so much and whether they’re normal and healthy or if you have something to be concerned about.
Why Do Dogs Sleep So Much? Is It Normal?
Yes! Studies show that dogs spend about 50% of their day asleep, and another 30% of the day is spent resting. (Sounds amazing, right?)
The main reason why dogs sleep so much is that they don’t have anything better to do.
How much of the day your pup spends sleeping depends on a few things, including their:
Puppies and elderly dogs are most likely to spend more time asleep.
Just like babies, a growing puppy needs more sleep than an adult dog.
And for older dogs, they simply get tired easier than younger ones and need their naps, just like your grandparents do. Simply going on a daily walk or walking upstairs is enough to tire out an old pup.
In the case of Toby, we discovered he was sleeping more simply because he was getting older. He had transitioned from an adolescent dog full of unbridled energy to a more mature animal and simply slept more.
Dogs that are considered overweight or pups that are sick will sleep more than healthy dogs.
If your dog is overweight, try to work in more exercise to shed those pesky pounds. Obesity can cause many major health issues and potentially shorten your pet’s life.
If your dog is sleeping a lot more than normal you might want to switch up their diet.
Try a dog food with more fiber and nutrients and less fat and carbs. A diet that is high in carbs can be a culprit for sleepy pups because it can cause their blood pressure to spike and then crash. This leads to low energy as well as mood swings.
Another reason: Different dog breeds are inclined to sleep more than others.
Larger breeds like Bernese Mountain Dogs need more sleep than smaller dogs in general.
These dog breeds in particular love to sleep a little longer.
5. Life changes
If you’ve recently moved or your dog has lost a human or another dog in their life, they may need extra sleep to get their mood back on track.
Be patient – just like humans, dogs need to process these big changes.
Conclusion: Why Do Dogs Sleep So Much?
Ultimately, if your dog is sleeping more than 12 hours per day, there’s no reason to be concerned.
On the other hand, if your dog suddenly changes the amount that they are sleeping or is acting tired and sluggish all of the time, you may want to call the vet to make sure things are okay. Extra sleepiness and sluggish behavior can be a sign that something isn’t quite right. (More on that below.)
Dogs Actually Don’t Get Much Deep Sleep
Another reason it may seem like your dog is constantly sleeping is that they wake up a lot more frequently while sleeping than we do.
As humans, we sleep in one large chunk of 7-9 hours at night and spend about a quarter of that time in a deep sleep Rapid Eye Movement (REM) cycle.
Dogs, on the other hand, are easily woken up by the doorbell, front door or footsteps and only spend about 10 percent of their sleep in REM.
The American Kennel Club (AKC) refers to dogs as flexible sleepers instead of deep sleepers. This means they have the ability to fall asleep just about anywhere but can also be woken up at any moment.
When to Worry About Your Dog’s Sleeping Habits
We’ve already touched on some instances where you might want to call the vet regarding your dog’s sleeping habits. Now let’s take a deeper dive and look at situations where you do need to worry more.
Drastic Changes in Sleep Patterns
One reason to be concerned is if you notice a major change to when and how much your dog is sleeping.
For example, say your dog has slept for three hours every morning since you got them as a puppy. Then you suddenly notice they are sleeping for six hours in the morning.
Instances of drastic changes like this are when you should call your veterinarian. A big change in dog sleep patterns can often be linked to diabetes and kidney disease.
Hard to Wake Up
Most dogs will wake up pretty quickly, especially if they are startled or hear something appealing.
If your dog is having a hard time waking up when they usually jumps in excitement – say when they hear the garage door open or you put food in their bowl – it could be another sign that something is wrong.
Again, it’s a good idea to consult with your veterinarian about the change in behavior.
Resting in Odd Places
If your dog seems to be panting heavily during otherwise routine exercise, like a walk, or is unable to play catch or walk without resting frequently in odd places, that’s a good sign something may not be quite right.
Again, in this case you should call your vet as soon as possible to get to the bottom of the issue.
Dogs who have severe sleep disorders will exhibit more concerning behaviors, including excessive whining and crying in addition to becoming disoriented while performing basic tasks.
They can also even become aggressive due to lack of rest. As always, any changes in a dog’s behavior should warrant a visit to the vet.
How Can I Stop My Dog From Sleeping So Much?
If you’d like to keep your pup awake a little more during the day, there are some things you can do to spice up their days.
Buy some new toys to keep your pup more active during the day. A puppy puzzle game is a great way to keep your dog engaged and active while you are not home to play with him. Here are the best options out there.
When you are home, make sure the pup gets plenty of playtime and time outdoors to increase their activity levels.
If your dog seems sleepier than normal, make sure they are drinking the usual amount of water to stay hydrated. You could also try switching their food for a boost in his energy.
Overall, a sleepy dog is nothing to be too worried about. Remember, they have less busy lives and fewer obligations than we do. Their sleep cycles are also structured differently.
So unless you notice drastic changes in your dog’s sleeping habits, we say, let sleeping dogs lie!
How to Find the Right Veterinarian to Care for Your Dog
As you can see above, it’s important that you have a veterinarian you know and trust.
When you have a trusted vet who knows your dog’s overall health and history, it’s much easier to figure out what’s causing their current ailment.
In this case, you could quickly schedule an appointment or even email or call with the question of why do dogs sleep so much and is my dog normal?
To find that dependable doctor, follow these steps.
1. Look Locally
First things first: Find a vet that is near you. If heaven forbid something happens to your dog and it’s even remotely urgent, you’ll want to be able to get to the clinic in a short period of time.
This is also important if you have to take time off work for vet appointments. It’s tough enough to get away from work but even tougher when you factor in extra drive time.
For the most part, vet visits are usually planned. You know when your dog’s due for an exam or needs vaccinations.
But as we’ve learned throughout the years, things come up. Your dog ate something funky and doesn’t seem like himself. You spot a weird growth and can’t stop worrying. Your dog has a cut on his face that needs a few stitches.
Or in this case, you need to know why do dogs sleep so much and is my dog OK.
If your vet is closer, that makes things much easier.
2. Read Online Reviews
This is probably an obvious statement, but reading online reviews is incredibly important as a consumer.
And now there are more sites than ever with reviews – Google, Yelp, Facebook, Angie’s List, etc.
Search around and see what people are saying about each clinic you’re looking at.
3. Ask for Recommendations
Another useful tip is to ask around. Where do your neighbors take their dogs? How about friends, family and co-workers in the area?
If your dog is taking training lessons or going to doggy daycare, get the opinion of people at these organizations, too.
This is a great method because you’ll get honest, qualitative feedback that can help make your decision.
4. Do a Test Run
Once you find a vet clinic that seems like a good fit, make an appointment for your dog to be seen.
In this initial appointment, the vet will conduct an assessment of your dog’s health. But really, you’ll also be working on an assessment of your own.
Things to consider as you figure out if this is the right place for you and your dog:
- Facilities – The first thing is to take inventory of the clinic. Is it clean and comfortable?
- Veterinarian – Most importantly, what do you think of the vet? Did they explain things clearly? How was their bedside manner? How did your dog respond to them?
- Support staff – It’s not just the vet you have to consider. You’ll actually be spending just as much time with the support staff, which includes the vet technicians, front office team members and so forth.
- Service – How was the level of service? Is the staff pleasant? Was it easy to make an appointment? How is the communication?
5. Trust Your Gut
As always, trust your gut reaction. It’s more important than people realize.
If you had a good first impression of the clinic and the team and your dog responded well, by all means proceed.
If something felt off and the experience wasn’t what you had hoped for, don’t be afraid to look for other options.
Bonus Tip: Find an Emergency Pet Hospital
While you’re looking for a standard vet clinic, it’s smart to also identify emergency pet hospitals in the area.
This is a place to go if your dog needs care urgently and you can’t wait for the next available appointment at your regular vet.
If your dog has a serious issue come up outside of the normal office hours or on the weekend – and it will happen – this is the place to go.