Posted by Josie
I’m getting older. I’m about ten years old so I’m considered a senior pet. I’m exhibiting all the signs that come with aging, including having some sore joints due to arthritis, white hair and lately… lots of sleeping. A typical healthy dog sleeps between 10 and 12 hours in a 24 hour cycle. I sleep more like 18 to 20 hours in a day. Dogs like me who are getting older sleep more because general living is more exhausting and we just need more hours to recharge. It’s interesting the way the dog life cycle works. Puppies usually need 18 to 20 hours of sleep because they are so active when they are awake. Then, once you’re a senior you need that kind of sleep again.
My humans love it when I sleep, because I dream a lot. I make funny noses and twitch my legs, paws and nose which makes them laugh. Did you know when I do that I am in what’s known as the Rapid Eye Movement (REM) period of sleep? That’s the period where you are in your deepest sleep. Your breathing slows, your blood pressure drops and your heart rate slows down too. Humans are in REM for about 25 percent of our time in bed. Dogs, on the other hand, are only in REM for ten percent of their sleep time. Since REM is the most rejuvenating time of sleep, that’s why dogs need far more than humans.
But what about working dogs? Dogs that hunt, fish, gather, pick up birds, etc. that are bred to work generally don’t sleep as much as regular house dogs. But the typical dog, even if it’s a breed that is typically a working dog, will sleep just as much as non working breeds if it doesn’t have to do a task every day.
Bigger dogs definitely need more sleep when they get older as well. For a 200 pound Saint Bernard, there’s a lot more energy needed to move its body than a four pound Yorkie. More sleep is expected of all dogs as they get older, but if you notice your dog’s amount of sleeping time is excessive all of a sudden, you do need to take note. Diabetes, hypothyroidism and canine depression have excessive sleeping as a major symptom. (In fact, a key symptom for all those diseases in humans is also excessive sleep.)
For now, my sleeping is exactly where it should be, even though there are times my hoomans want me to go out and play and I just want to sleep. They are really good at just letting me sleep, especially since my little feline brother, Farley Waddlesworth, has moved in. He is a year and a half old and sleeps very little for a kitty. He’s constantly hyper and wants to take walks outside with mom. So in a lot of ways, I am more like a cat and he is more like a dog. But that’s just fine with me, all I want is to be able to get my zzzz’s to be the happy dog that I am.