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