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December 18, 2017

How Much Sleep do Senior Dogs Need?


Is your dog getting too much sleep? Dogs often spend more time sleeping as they get older, and it’s perfectly normal. If you’re out of the house all day, you may not really understand how much sleep your older dog gets. In some cases, sleeping too much may be a sign of illness, or takes away from time they could be spending exercising, eating, or otherwise staying active and healthy. If you can’t be at home to watch your dog during the day, consider having our Atlanta dog walkers and older dog pet sitters at Critter Sitters help watch your senior dog.

How Much Sleep is Normal for Aging Dogs?

It’s perfectly normal for older dogs to sleep more than they did when they were younger. Puppies, like small children, may need extra naps and more sleep. Most adult dogs reach a point where they are often more content lounging around the house and returning to a cycle of naps.

It is important to understand when exactly a dog becomes “old” to see if this extra sleep is a problem or not. The standard rule of thumb that says every human year is 7 dog years may not be completely accurate. Veterinarians and biologists suggest that the numbers are a lot more complicated. Most dogs reach peak physical maturity by around 1-year of age – putting them around the equivalent of 15 years old in human years. Most people who remember their teenage years (or see their children going through them) understand that having more sleep is important at this age.

As they get older, dogs reach the equivalent of their mid-30s by around age 5. After that, larger dogs begin to go “over the hill” much quicker than small dogs. A small, 10-year old dog may be in the equivalent of their mid-50s, but a larger dog already acts more like they’re in their mid-60s. If your large dog is over 8 years old, they may already be taking more frequent naps and wanting less exercise. But a small dog shouldn’t need too much extra rest by 8-years-old, and this could be a sign of a problem.

Normal Amount of Sleep for Old Dogs

By the time any dog reaches their teenage years, they may need more sleep. Puppies usually sleep 15-18 hours per day, while adult dogs generally reach 12-14 hours of sleep. Dogs that have active work duties, such as seeing-eye dogs or farming dogs may sleep less during the day. On average, most dogs spend:

  • 20% of their time awake and moving around
  • 30% of their time awake, but relaxing, and
  • 50% of their time sleeping.

Older dogs spend more time relaxing and more time asleep – so don’t be surprised to only spend a couple hours eat day with an active, elderly dog.

Is My Older Dog Getting Too Much Sleep?

If you are out of the house all day, whether at work or running errands, you may not see how much sleep your dog gets. If you think your older dog is sleeping too much, you may want to talk to your vet. Just like sick humans, sick dogs need more rest. If your dog is asleep all day, it might be a sign that they have some sort of illness they are fighting.

Look for other signs of illness, such as lack of appetite, pained or slow walking or moving, and changes in personality. Even if they seem sleepy most of the time, dogs with dementia or other mental issues may become aggressive or snappy, even with people they usually recognize.

Caring for an older dog may mean doing something you didn’t need to do with a younger dog: hiring a pet sitter. Pet sitters like our Critter Sitters can come by your house during the day to feed your pet, interact with them, and get them up and moving with walks. While sleep is an important part of maintaining your dog’s health, it is also important to keep them exercising and eating at proper times to support proper health.

Our Sitters can help with walks around the neighborhood, walks around the house, or even walks around the apartment. We can get your dog moving, make sure they have enough food and water, and help monitor how much they are sleeping. If we see your dog getting too much sleep on our watch, we’ll let you know.

Atlanta Pet Sitters for Older Dogs

At Critter Sitters, the special needs for older dogs, dogs with medication, and dogs with other health issues are all part of what we do. Our sitters can administer medication, help your older dog get moving around the house, and help you monitor their sleep habits. To set up a free appointment with one of our Sitters, or to start scheduling our dog sitting services, call Critter Sitters today at 404-973-2541.