If you don’t sleep, you probably feel out of sorts. You may be achy or groggy. Your memory might feel a little fogged up. Your joints might be sore. If your dog doesn’t get enough sleep, they’ll feel the same way. If you feel like your dog isn’t getting enough sleep, here’s what you can do to support the sleep process naturally.
How Much Sleep Do Dogs Need?
Sleep is a restorative process that brings the body and mind back into alignment. Both need time to heal and decompress at the end of the day. During the sleep process, the brain works to store memories and regulate itself, and the body repairs and restores muscle, tissue, and bone.
You may be surprised to learn that dogs need much more sleep than people. A dog’s sleep needs will change throughout their life, but you can expect dogs of any age to spend a significant portion of the day snoozing away:
- Puppies – 10 to 11 hours of sleep a day
- Adult dogs – 8 to 14 hours of sleep a day
- Senior dogs – about 14 hours of sleep per day
Dogs need so much sleep that it can be hard for some pet parents to tell if they are sleeping enough. If your dog sleeps through the night with you, it’s easy to assume that your dog is getting enough rest. Your dog likely needs a few naps in addition to their normal night of sleep.
Adult and senior dogs will usually be asleep more than they’re awake. This is completely normal. Adult dogs tend to sleep throughout the night, especially if their household is asleep at the same time. Senior dogs are fond of naps. They’ll sleep whenever they’re comfortable.
What if My Dog Is Sleeping Too Much?
You might feel like your dog is sleeping too much simply because you see them sleeping all the time. If they aren’t sleeping significantly longer than 14 hours a day, they probably aren’t sleeping too much.
The next time you intend to spend the whole day at home, record how often your dog sleeps. If it’s significantly more than 14 hours, that may be a sign that something’s a little off. Try engaging your dog in active play or going for more walks to see if they perk up. They may be sleeping out of boredom,
If your dog isn’t interested in active play or getting up to eat, it’s time to schedule a checkup with the vet.
Why Do Dogs Have Trouble Sleeping?
There are a lot of reasons dogs might have trouble sleeping. Some are temporary and may resolve themselves, some are natural parts of getting older, and some require your intervention.
Some common causes of sleep troubles in dogs include:
- Joint discomfort
- Disruptive noises, like thunderstorms or fireworks
- Tense or upset mood
- Lack of routine
- Illness or injury
Joint discomfort is common in older dogs, just like it is with older people. Time can erode the cartilage padding away from joints, making them feel creaky or sore with movement. Managing your dog’s weight and making your home easier to navigate will simplify your senior dog’s life while improving their overall level of comfort.
If a storm or a holiday fireworks celebration is keeping your dog awake, you can comfort your dog through the situation. Losing one night of sleep won’t harm your dog’s well-being — your dog will happily snooze as soon as the noises stop.
If your dog is nervous or stressed, try to figure out why. Did you just add a new dog to the family? Have you recently moved into a new home? Do you have house guests staying with you? Your dog might need some help through the transition. Things will work out with time. Provide your dog with support and comfort when needed.
A lack of structure can also confuse your dog, as they may not understand when it’s bedtime if you work odd hours or provide them with food at random times throughout the day. Consider implementing a routine.
Lastly, if you believe your dog may be ill or injured, it’s time for a trip to the vet. You’ll never know the extent of the issue or the proper course of treatment without a diagnosis.
What Are Some Natural Sleep Remedies for Dogs?
When many people encounter wellness concerns, they often attempt to address them naturally first. Your dog might benefit from natural remedies and small household changes to help them sleep. In some cases, all it takes is a few small changes to make a world of difference.
1. Establish a Set Routine
If you’re a devoted dog parent, you’ve probably met people who tell you it’s weird to think of your dog as your child. The reality is that your relationship with your dog closely mimics a parent-child relationship. Your dog looks to you for guidance, permission, care, food, shelter, and love the same way that a child would.
That’s right: your dog thinks that you’re their parent.
Just like a human child, a dog benefits from a routine. They’re expecting you to set an example, arrange their day for them, and keep them on a schedule. If your dog isn’t on any kind of predictable schedule where things happen at roughly the same time every day, they may not know when it’s bedtime.
Try your best to keep your dog in a routine. If you don’t have a consistent routine, it might take a little while for your dog to get used to things. After your dog adapts, you might find that your dog’s mood, appetite, energy levels, and sleep schedule naturally become regulated.
2. Give Your Dog More Exercise
Think about how you felt the last time you had a lazy day at home. You binge-watched a whole season of something, ordered takeout, and scrolled through social media. You hardly stood up all day. You might have even taken a few small naps. What did you feel like when bedtime rolled around?
It probably wasn’t easy to fall asleep. If you don’t use any energy and remain at rest all day, your body gets a little mixed up about what it’s supposed to be doing and when it’s supposed to do it. Your internal clock may not know whether it’s day or night, which can prevent it from beginning the natural sleep process.
Exercise and daily movement are important for all living things. Aside from the benefits of building a strong cardiovascular system, strengthening muscles and joints, and helping to maintain a healthy body weight, exercise can help your body determine when it’s time to move and when it’s time to sleep. The same philosophy applies to your dog.
Every dog breed has different exercise requirements, but they all have something huge in common. Dogs need to get a lot of exercise. Nature made them to be high-energy hunters. Their bodies need to move. Younger dogs often want to engage in active play. Older dogs are likelier to appreciate a slow, extended trot around the park. Make sure your dog is getting enough exercise.
3. Some Snuggle Time
Cuddling up with your partner helps you feel cozy and secure. It’s probably easier to fall asleep after you get some snuggle time. Your dog might feel the same way.
If your dog misses you, they may hesitate to sleep. They’re afraid they’ll miss something. A soothing, low-energy cuddle session might help your dog naturally release positive, calming endorphins. You’ll know you’re doing a good job if your dog lets out a big tired sigh, closes their eyes, and lays their head down flat.
4. A Comfortable Bed
If you’re cool with your dog sleeping in bed with you or using your couch as a napping spot, your dog’s already set. They have a comfortable place to lay. If your dog doesn’t have a bed or if the bed they have isn’t supportive enough, they may have issues getting comfortable. Think about how you would feel if you had to always sleep on the rug or tile floor — you probably wouldn’t be eager to call it a night.
Comfortable beds are especially important for older dogs experiencing joint discomfort. Joint discomfort is extremely common in senior dogs, and some breeds are predisposed to develop joint issues at a younger age.
Choose a dog bed made of a supportive material like memory foam. If your dog’s sleep area gets warm during the summer, choose a cooling dog bed. Your dog’s bed should be large enough to accommodate your dog’s entire body, with a little room to spare. When in doubt, go a size up. A larger bed can accommodate your dog as they move around in their sleep.
5. CBD Oil or Chews
A lot of people use CBD to help support the sleep process. Your dog’s body will respond to CBD almost exactly the same way that yours does. Like you, your dog has an endocannabinoid system and naturally produces their own cannabinoids. They have the same types of cannabinoid receptors that can also be influenced by CBD.
You can give your dog CBD oil about an hour before bedtime to promote better sleep. If your dog has issues with discomfort, you can give them CBD oil or CBD-infused chews every eight hours. A constant, steady stream of relief will help your dog take important day naps when they feel tired.
Can I Give My Dog Sleep Aids?
Don’t give your dog any over-the-counter sleep aids or human medications without talking to a vet first. Many sleep aids can potentially be extremely dangerous or toxic to dogs.
Your dog’s system doesn’t process medication as your system does, and it can be very easy to accidentally overmedicate your dog.
Can I Use Essential Oils for My Dog?
You might have some experience using aromatherapy as a bedtime relaxation technique. Lavender oil is excellent at helping humans unwind, but the same can’t be said for dogs.
Although there are many “pet-friendly” essential oil products on the market, most veterinarians have expressed extreme skepticism about the safety of these products for dogs. Essential oils have the potential to be toxic to your dog. They can cause kidney and liver damage if accidentally ingested. They can also cause contact allergic reactions on your dog’s skin.
It’s best not to take any chances regarding your dog’s health and safety. Save your essential oils for your diffuser and your personal care products.
In Conclusion: Sleep Matters for Your Whole Family, Including Your Pets
If you believe your dog isn’t getting enough sleep, it may be time to make some important changes to your dog’s wellness routine. A new doggie bed, some pet CBD, and a little more exercise can go a long way in helping your dog get enough sleep and enjoy a better quality of life.