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Sleep Disorders in Dogs: Tips to Improve their Sleep Environment


7 min Read

February 22, 2023 | Parenting

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Sleep Disorders in Dogs

If there is one thing that can broaden the smiles of pet parents, it is to see their pooches, always healthy and joyful!

Sound sleep is key to your dog's overall health and quality of life. Your furry friends need more sleep hours than you - approximately 12 to 18 hours per day, depending on their age.

But, did you know that even dogs suffer from sleep disorders just like humans? This might be the reason why you’re struggling to put them off to sleep at night.

Knowing how to make a dog sleep can come in handy as a pet owner, especially if you are a pup parent. The go-to remedy is to create a better sleeping environment for them.

However, the first crucial step is to understand the importance of dog sleep & figure out why your dog is having trouble sleeping through the night. Sleep disorders are a common cause of this.

Dog Lying on the Floor

Types of Dog Sleep Disorders

Sleep-deprived dogs tend to be stressed, or can even become aggressive and develop other behavioral issues.

To top that, your dog’s immune system can weaken due to lack of proper sleep, ultimately making them more vulnerable to infections.

We’ve listed a few common dog sleep disorders here:

1. Insomnia

Even though rare in dogs, insomnia can indicate an underlying health problem.

Various factors like pain, pent-up energy, anxiety, and medical conditions like hormonal imbalances, respiratory issues, brain degeneration, or cognitive dysfunction can disrupt their usual sleep-wake cycle.

Cues to look out for in this case are restlessness, agitation, and frequent wake-ups at night.

Boring Young Golden Retriever

2. Narcolepsy

This is one of the rare nervous system sleep disorders caused by the deficiency of hypocretin, a chemical that regulates sleep and wakefulness. 

It primarily affects young dogs, who may appear to collapse and fall asleep amidst an activity or after bouts of excitement.

This non-curable condition isn’t painful. However, as parents, you would want to cut down on the occurrences. Recording a video of the narcoleptic attack can help a vet with an accurate sleep disorder diagnosis.

3. REM Behaviour Disorder

Ever noticed your dog chasing a roach in his sleep?

RBD causes dogs to engage in physical activities like growling, barking, jumping, running, etc, while they are sleeping. For some, this activity tends to become more violent, such as pouncing on inanimate objects or running into walls. 

Unlike seizures, dogs with RBD usually wake up without feeling disoriented or confused. The condition is normally seen in older dogs and can indicate undiagnosed medical conditions like dementia.

4. Sleep Apnea

In this case, dogs can experience laboured breathing. This disorder is common among flat-face breeds (due to their short snouts & narrow airways) like Pugs and English Bulldogs, as well as obese dogs.

Watch out for dog sleeping symptoms like loud & chronic snoring or waking up gasping for breath - it might be time to seek veterinary help.

Cute Dog Making Mess with Clothes

Why is sound sleep important for dogs?

When dogs don’t get enough quality sleep, it can affect their health and mood. A good night’s rest goes a long way to improving your fur pal’s overall well-being.

  • Speeds Physical Repair: Sleep releases growth hormones in a dog’s body that help regenerate damaged cells & tissues. It also improves your dog’s immune function, keeping them better guarded against infections and diseases. 

  • Improves Mental Health: By helping them get good sleep, you can keep depression, stress, and anxiety in dogs at bay. 

  • Improves Energy & Behaviour: A well-slept dog wakes up rejuvenated with all the energy it needs to tackle the day. Sound sleep also fosters better behaviour in dogs and elevates their mood. 

  • Promotes Healthy Weight: A tired dog's brain often fails when it comes to controlling its appetite. Dogs facing a lack of sleep may be prone to overeating. 

Sleep deprivation can cause unnecessary weight gain in dogs, often resulting in obesity-related health problems. 

Moreover, several studies have shown that dogs learn new commands and remember them better when they are well-rested. 

Tips to better your Dog’s Sleep Environment

1. Create a Peaceful Environment

If you’ve ever struggled to take a nap amidst people chatting or in front of the TV, know that it is the same for your pooches.

A loud and busy environment usually interferes with and disturbs your dog’s sleep. Try to put them to bed in the quietest corner of your house - even away from noisy appliances.

Dog Sleeping Home

2. Select the Right Dog Mattress

Much like dogs, their beds also come in varied shapes and sizes. Make sure the bed suits their size & supports their joints. 

Also, notice what your dog prefers - while some feel more comfortable in firm mattresses, others are fond of soft beds.

3. Control the Room Temperature

You may have noticed that dogs tend to overheat. So, it is mandatory to keep their sleep environment well-ventilated to regulate the temperature. Make sure it is not too hot or cold.

4. Help them Relax

Chewing & licking on chew bars and toys can be very calming. It can help them relax and fall asleep - almost like a baby sucking on a pacifier before dozing off.

5. Maintain a Sleep Routine & Schedule

Be sure to fix a daily sleep schedule and stick to it because dogs thrive on routine. As a pet parent, this would require you to curate designated times for sleep, walks, and meals. This helps them gauge their time of sleep and snooze instantly.

6. Keep their Bed Neat & Tidy

It is essential to keep your dog’s sleep environment clean - vacuum their bed regularly to remove debris or dirt. Unclean beds can often cause skin allergies and irritation, resulting in sleep difficulties.

7. Follow a Proper Diet

It goes without saying that if your dog eats healthy and easily digestible food, it can contribute immensely to its sound slumber.

8. Train your Dog Regularly

Dog training & exercise is a must to help your pooch maintain a sound sleep pattern. The secret is to get them exhausted before bedtime to ensure a good night’s sleep. 

Working food is often fun for dogs. You can also tire your pet mentally by pouring bite-sized training treats into puzzle toys for them to find. 

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

1. What is the best place for your dog to sleep?

Answer: A dog is most comfortable and feels secure when sleeping in its crate. A crate almost guarantees that your dog won’t get into any kind of trouble in the middle of the night.

So, you can crate-train your pooch and make sure you pad the crate with pillows and soft blankets.

2. How long does a dog sleep in 24 hours?

Answer: On average, dogs usually spend 50 percent of their day sleeping, accounting for almost 12-18 hours per day. While working dogs and smaller breeds may sleep less, older dogs, larger breeds, and puppies tend to sleep in more.

3. Why do dogs change their place of sleep?

Answer: Dogs prefer settling down for sleep in a safe and protected environment. Just like humans, if your dog doesn’t find his sleeping arrangement secure or comfortable enough to sleep, it will do a bit of too-ing and fro-ing.

Improving the sleep environment is just one way to a happy and healthy dog. Learn more about how you can boost your dog’s mood in this blog post.

All in all, it is crucial to observe and interact with your pets closely to ensure that they are well-slept, happy, and healthy.

To learn more about pet issues, solutions, and dog food guides, check our Instagram page.  

The love our dogs shower upon us is priceless and purest. So, let’s learn more about our furry pals and care for their needs every day.

Thank you for reading till the end. See you again in our next blog!

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