An adult dog can sleep between 10 am and 3 pm a day and adapt its sleep cycles to your lifestyle in order to be awake while you are present. Thus, it is not uncommon to see a dog fall asleep around 9 or 10 p.m. and wake up at the same time as you at 6 a.m.! But a dog that seems to over-sleep, to be tired all the time or, on the contrary, doesn’t sleep enough, could suffer from sleep disorders, and this can have repercussions on his health.
Why does my dog sleep all the time? My dog doesn’t sleep, what can I do? Is my dog insomniac? How do I treat insomnia in my dog? What are sleep disorders in dogs? To answer these questions, here are the 4 most common sleep disorders in dogs and how to treat them.
Narcolepsy in dogs
Narcolepsy is a sleep disorder that can affect certain breeds of dogs and is hereditary. Narcolepsy in dogs is characterized by periods of excessive drowsiness or even sudden episodes of falling asleep at any time of day, even in the middle of an activity. This disorder can lead to or even be linked to another one: cataplexy. These are brief episodes in which the dog becomes totally paralyzed (and may, if standing, fall) but still remains conscious.
Narcolepsy is a nervous disorder that frequently affects certain breeds of dogs in particular: Labradors, Poodles, Dachshunds, Doberman Pinschers. If you notice that your dog appears drowsy or tired or has episodes of cataplexy, a veterinary examination should be done to diagnose the disorder.
The treatment of the dog’s narcolepsy consists of acting on the symptoms and providing vitamins to improve his tone. However, there is no cure for the disease. But rest assured, narcolepsy does not shorten your dog’s lifespan and is not painful.
Insomnia in dogs is a sleep disorder that, in most cases, is a symptom of another health problem. While you want to sleep, your dog spends the night crying, barking, making noise, and attracting your attention: this is not without reason.
Many other pathologies can lead to insomnia in dogs: physical health problems (injuries, joint inflammation, etc.), itching (fleas, skin problems, etc.), digestive problems, stress, anxiety… It is important not to ignore your dog’s insomnia and look for a reason for his behavior. A clinical examination at the veterinarian will help find a possible cause for his insomnia and will propose an adapted treatment.
In some cases, the main reason for the dog’s insomnia may be a poor life balance. If your dog gets bored and is not stimulated enough during the day, he will spend his time sleeping and will no longer be tired enough to sleep at night. To help your dog sleep at night, give him as much exercise as possible, and don’t neglect a good walk before going to sleep! Also, make sure his last meal is several hours before bedtime, so he has time to digest.
Sleep apnea in dogs
Relatively rare, sleep apnea can affect some dogs, especially obese and flat-faced breeds. This sleep disorder is characterized by a halt in breathing for about ten seconds while the dog sleeps. The consequences of sleep apnea in the dog are that the dog’s tone will be greatly altered.
If his sleep is interrupted too often due to sleep apnea, a state of severe fatigue can quickly set in and leave your dog totally lethargic during the day due to lack of sleep.
A common symptom is loud snoring, indicating abnormal breathing. If you notice that your dog snores very loudly but suddenly becomes quiet before resuming, we advise you to consult a veterinarian.
If your dog suffers from sleep apnea, there are several treatment options: weight loss for obese dogs, respiratory system surgery, or steam humidification to clear the airways.
REM Sleep Disorder in Dogs
Some dogs tend to wiggle their paws as if they were running while they sleep. This behavior often makes owners smile but can hide a REM sleep behavior disorder. This condition causes the dog to be physically active during REM sleep, causing it to move its paws, try to grab something or attack an object or piece of furniture, or even bump into each other. When the dog wakes up, it is neither disoriented nor tired, but this disorder can be dangerous if it hits an object as it can cause injury.
If you observe your dog being very active while he is sleeping, it is best to consult a veterinarian who will perform an examination. To better describe the situation to your veterinarian, document each episode of this type of behavior. If REM sleep is disturbed, your veterinarian will prescribe a treatment to reduce your dog’s agitation and give him a more peaceful sleep.