Your sweet older dog is a joy to be with, but as dogs age they usually go through changes. If you notice your older dog doing things a little bit differently, there’s no cause for alarm. It’s just some typical changes.
Older dogs often spend a lot of time sleeping. You may have some questions about what’s normal and what isn’t, so let’s break down one of your dog’s personality traits to give you some peace of mind. Although there are times where you might want to worry about changes, many of your dog’s changes are just part of growing older.
Why do old dogs sleep so much?
As dogs age, it’s normal for their energy levels to decrease. They may not enjoy long walks or runs the way they did when they were younger. Now they may spend more time relaxing — as many as 16 to 18 hours a day.
Not all of that time is deep sleep, however. Some of what appears to be sleep is simply resting or light napping. This sleep is essential for maintaining your elderly dog’s energy levels and helps ensure that they can recover from more complex activities.
What is a healthy sleep amount for older dogs?
The answer to this question will depend a lot on your individual dog. Larger dogs are considered seniors when they reach the age of 6 or 7, while smaller dogs won’t reach senior age until they are 10 or 12.
It’s essential to watch your dog’s behavior carefully because dogs sometimes try to hide it when they feel sick or in pain. Sometimes, you need subtle signals that they’ve taken a turn. The fact that they’re sleeping is normal if it’s not a sudden and dramatic increase in sleep.
What could too much sleep signal?
If your dog is sleeping too much, it could be a sign that your dog is dealing with some pain. If a dog doesn’t feel good, it could retreat and spend more time sleeping, trying not to make the pain worse.
Take your dog to the vet to rule out common causes of pain, such as arthritis or chronic illnesses. Your vet can be an essential part of your future plans, helping you decide if your dog’s behavior is out of the ordinary or a problem.
Signs of sleep problems for your senior dog
If you’re trying to decide what the problems are with your dog’s sleep, keep these factors in mind.
• Confusion — If your dog is sleeping during the day and behaving confused at night, that could be a sign of dementia. Cognitive degenerative disorders are somewhat common with senior dogs, and a vet visit can help you figure out how to move forward.
• Sleeping through serious noise — Pet hearing loss could be one of the reasons your dog is sleeping more. A vet visit to assess your dog’s hearing and eyesight is in order.
• Avoiding lying down — If your dog falls asleep sitting up regularly or won’t settle down to sleep, this could signal heart issues. Your dog is unconsciously managing these symptoms, and you’ll need to discuss with your vet to confirm if something is wrong and how to move forward.
• Sleeping in strange places — Changing to an unusual area could mean your dog is reluctant to sleep due to discomfort or anxiety. It could also be a sign of degenerative cognitive disorders. What constitutes a “strange place” will depend a lot on your dog’s previous behavior.
How to help your senior dog sleep
You may have to make some changes to your dog’s sleeping situation to help encourage restful, restorative sleep.
• Change beds — a memory foam bed can help remove pressure from aching joints and make it more straightforward for your dog to get comfortable.
• Get gentle exercise — Exercise helps your dog get out energy but also encourages more restful sleep. It can encourage your pet to fall asleep in the evening and settle longer.
• Head to the vet — Your veterinarian could be a rich source of advice on how to help your dog sleep better. Sometimes medications for other issues can prevent your dog from sleeping.
Helping your senior dog thrive
An old dog that sleeps all day and night isn’t a problem. As long as there’s no underlying issue with your dog’s health, there’s no reason that sleeping a little more is an issue. Keep an eye on the small signals so that you can get advice from your vet if something seems unusual.
Your sweet, older companion is a joy to be around, so don’t let little changes in behavior worry you. As long as your vet isn’t worried and you’re keeping up with exercise and a proper diet, your pet’s sleep can help it feel rested for future, slower walks.
- Cat’s eating litter? Here’s why and how to stop it
- Understanding incontinence in older dogs
- Five signs your dog is getting old
- Why some older dogs smell bad
- If your cat eats a lot but still loses weight, it’s time to call the vet