Do Senior Dogs Sleep More?

As dogs age, they tend to sleep more than younger dogs, with most senior dogs requiring 12 to 15 hours of sleep per day. However, sleeping for more than 20 hours a day can be a sign of underlying health conditions such as kidney disease, cancer, hypothyroidism, or pain/arthritis. On the other hand, some senior dogs may not sleep enough due to dementia-like issues or restlessness at night. To ensure senior dogs are comfortable while sleeping, pet owners can provide supportive beds, joint supplements, and calming supplements. It's recommended to consult with a veterinarian for guidance on these remedies. 

Dogs: We love them like our own family members. So when your canine friend starts exhibiting behaviors or traits that are out of the ordinary, it’s only natural that you worry, especially when your pup is considered a “senior.”

If your older dog is sleeping more than usual these days, you may be wondering: “How long do senior dogs sleep?” Know that in general, senior dogs do tend to sleep more than the average adult dog—but there can be too much of a good thing. 

Ahead, we’ll explore what’s considered normal when it comes to the sleeping habits of senior dogs, explain when to visit a vet, and offer tips to make senior dogs feel more comfortable while they sleep.

How many hours do senior dogs sleep?

How much do senior dogs sleep—and what’s considered normal? According to Sara Ochoa, veterinarian at SeniorTailWaggers.com, most older dogs will sleep 12 to 15 hours or more a day.

“Most older dogs need more rest than young adults,” she explains. “They need more rest to help keep up with the energy level that they need during their awake periods.”

But too much sleep could be a sign of an underlying health condition to be on the lookout for.

Signs of sleep problems in senior dogs

Generally, if you notice your dog is sleeping more than 20 hours a day, this could indicate your dog is possibly sick. “Most dogs who are sick can become more lethargic and sleep more during the day,” shares Ochoa. 

She lists several causes that could be leading your senior pup to oversleep, all of which can be verified by your veterinarian:

  • Kidney disease
  • Cancer
  • Hypothyroidism
  • Pain/arthritis

On the flip side, some older dogs may not be sleeping enough, which could also signal a health problem. For instance, Ochoa says some dogs may develop dementia-like issues and not sleep much at all. “They may become restless at night,” she says.

Senior dog sleep tips

Whether your dog is dealing with a health issue or not, older pups definitely need to feel more comfortable so they can sleep better. Since you always want them to feel their very best, there are some things that you can try at home.

Swap in a new bed

A supportive pet bed, especially if your dog is dealing with arthritis, can make all the difference when it comes to their sleep. Many dogs like to nestle down into a comfy spot when they snooze—so if your dog isn’t sleeping well, make sure to have a “nice, fluffy bed” for them to rest, says Ochoa. Ask your veterinarian for dog bed recommendations.

Consider joint supplements

if your dog is older and is also a large-breed dog, such as a Labrador, Great Dane, or German Shepherd, you can consider giving them joint supplements, says Ochoa. Easing their pain and discomfort could help them to sleep a lot more peacefully.

Try calming supplements

There’s one strategy you can consider to calm an anxious pup’s nerves, senior or otherwise. Ochoa suggests “giving calming supplements” to help your dog sleep better. Be sure to get recommendations for these anxiety-relieving supplements from your regular veterinarian or visit a holistic or integrative veterinarian for even more knowledge on the subject. (Learn whether CBD is safe for dogs.)

When to visit a vet

What are some warning signs that could potentially signal something is going on with your senior dog? “If your dog suddenly is starting to sleep more, it may be best to see your vet for a checkup,” says Ochoa. She adds that some signs can include low to no appetite, vomiting, and diarrhea. “These are also indications that it’s time to see your vet,” she says.

Help your senior dog get better sleep with the right pet bed

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FAQs

What age is considered a senior dog?

“A dog older than 7 to 8 is considered a senior dog,” Ochoa says. “Large dog breeds are usually considered seniors around 6 years old.”

Is it normal for a dog to sleep 20 hours a day?

While it seems fine to let a senior dog sleep all day, Ochoa says it’s not normal for a dog to sleep over 20 hours a day. “This can be a sign that your dog has a health issue, [although] some dogs may sleep a little longer the day after they had a very active day such as family visiting or a trip to the dog park,” she says.

Find the best pet bed for senior dogs at Saatva

When looking for a senior dog bed, it’s best to find one that’s soft yet firm. “Most older dogs have issues getting up, and a very plush bed can be harder for them to stand up on,” says Ochoa. 

With this in mind, Saatva offers a

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Dog Bed

Saatva comfort & luxury, designed just for our furry friends

that simultaneously provides excellent comfort and support for senior dogs. Conveniently, it comes in three sizes (small, medium, and large) that can accommodate a wide range of dog breeds. It showcases responsive micro-coils for buoyant support, healthy spinal alignment, breathability, and greater ease of movement. 

The pillow top is filled with quilted plush comfort fibers to help reduce pet dander while keeping your pet cool and comfy. And the coil design prevents the bed from flattening out over time, which tends to be a common issue with fiber or foam-filled pet beds.

While it’s certainly perfect for a senior dog with mobility issues, the bed is geared toward pets of all ages. Your pup will love snuggling into it, and you’ll enjoy its removable high-performance fabric cover with a gusseted design that repels stains and liquids for easy spot cleaning, the unique fabric finish that repels liquids easily while allowing air to flow freely, and the non-slip base that helps keep pet bed in place.

What does your dog’s sleep position say about their personality? Check out our guide to common dog sleep positions and what they mean.

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