Your pets may seem like they spend a lot of time sleeping. Dogs and cats love their daily naps, not to mention adjusting to their parent’s nighttime sleeping patterns. Just how much sleep do dogs and cats really need?
Most dogs and cats get somewhere between 12 to 16 hours of sleep a day. Eight hours of sleep at night is typical. Why do dogs and cats sleep so much during those other four to eight hours a day?
Dogs and Cats Sleep A Lot Because They Can
Dogs and cats are predatory animals by nature. They can sleep as much as they want because they don’t have to worry about being the prey.
Pets typically live in a safe environment with their owners. They become comfortable around their owners and enjoy the safety that many other animals in the wild do not have.
Fight or flight is not something that cats and dogs have to rely on every waking and sleeping moment. They can relax and take naps and sleep whenever and wherever they want to.
Obviously, feral cats and wild dogs have different situations to deal with. Still, pets can rely on the safety of living among humans.
No Sleeping on the Job
Dogs that have a job like those working with police or providing a service to humans will sleep less often. These dogs will be at the ready of their owners to perform their duties when needed.
A dog that services a blind person will be ready to guide that person whenever they need to go somewhere. Active dogs are not bored dogs. They aren’t looking for a time to sleep. Their first inclination is to do their work.
Sheepdogs and Great Pyrenees are dogs that have been bred to work passively guarding livestock. They are alert to the dangers to the herd, but overall are slightly less active than active working dogs.
Passive working dogs may nap more during the day than working dogs. This may be because they have learned to be more alert at night in guarding their herd.
Cats have been categorized as “crepuscular.” This means they like to do most of their stalking at dawn or dusk. Cats will sleep more during the day so they are ready to begin their hunt at night. Their instinct is to be active when their prey is.
Obviously, a pet will adjust their sleep schedule to fit their parent’s schedule.
If you think your pet is sleeping too much during the day, you need to find ways to keep them more active during the day. Daily exercise and toys will keep them engaged and stimulate their minds. The more active a pet is, the less they will sleep. The more bored a pet is, the more likely they are to take naps during the day.
Age and Size Matters
Bigger pets tend to sleep more than smaller ones. A German Shepard will typically need more sleep than a Westie.
Puppies and kittens spend a lot of time sleeping. This is because they are growing fast and spending time exploring. All that activity makes them really tired! Puppies and kittens will need 18 to 20 hours of sleep a day. They will take many naps, but hopefully, they can get on a set routine with the rest of the house to sleep at night.
Older dogs and cats will sleep a lot as well. It can seem alarming to see your older pet sleeping more than they did when they were young and active, but this is simply a natural part of a dog’s aging. They simply need more rest.
A Pet’s Sleep Cycle is Short
Dogs and cats go through up to 20 sleep cycles, each lasting about 15 minutes. Humans, on the other hand, go through four or five cycles, each lasting up to 90 minutes. Cool, huh?
During these cycles, the experience involves a slow-wave sleep (SWS), which is where breathing is deep, and a restful sleep with rapid eye movement (REM), which is a deeper, dream-filled state of sleep.
Chemically, a dog and cat do not reach REM sleep the way humans do. They spend about 10% of their sleep in the REM cycle. Humans, in comparison, spend about 25% in REM. Because dogs and cats reach REM less, they need more sleep to get adequate rest.
Too Much or Too Little Sleep?
A dramatic change in a pet’s sleep pattern could indicate a health problem with your pet. The American Kennel Club suggests that depression, narcolepsy, hypothyroidism, dehydration, and diabetes are all conditions that can cause your pet to sleep more than usual. Illnesses, in general, can cause a pet to sleep more than usual.
If your pet seems like they are getting too much sleep, or even not getting enough sleep, then a trip to the veterinarian could be in order.
Pets have their own preferences of where they like to sleep. Some cats will find the plushest location to take a nap while a dog may be just fine sleeping on the hard concrete garage floor.
Sleep locations for your pet will change with the environment and their age. Older dogs with arthritis will likely appreciate a soft bed to lie in. If a pet is susceptible to loud noises, they may find the quietest place in the house to nap.
The best option is to give your pet the most comfortable bed possible and encourage them to use it. They may or may not use it all the time, but at least it is available if they want to. Just don’t be surprised to find your cat sunning by the window in your favorite chair.
Do Not Disturb
Dogs and cats are not happy when they are awakened from a deep sleep. Nobody likes to be woken up suddenly. This includes dogs and cats.
Pets can be just as grumpy as their owners and be annoyed when woken up. They may even lash out in anger if woken. There is an old saying: “let sleeping dogs lie.” This advice is well heeded even for all pets. They need their sleep, too.
How Can We Help?
Dogs and Cats need plenty of sleep. Their health and wellness are dependent on getting adequate sleep, including frequent naps during the day.
A little over half of a pet’s 24-hour day is spent sleeping. However, in their awake hours, they love to spend time playing with their owners or toys or other fellow pets. If they haven’t been engaged enough, you might find them awake and curious about their surroundings, sometimes in a naughty way.
At Space Coast Pet Services, our team of pet care professionals will customize our services for your pet’s individual needs. Your pet’s sleep routine and keeping to their schedule is important to us. Please contact us to book our services in a time frame that works best for you and your pets. We would love for you to put your pets in our loving and caring hands. Let’s chat!
Melanie is the owner and founder of Brevard’s premier trusted in-home pet care company. With a Sociology & Criminal Justice degree from the University of Tennessee, in 2016 she took her corporate security background and combined it with her lifelong passion for animals – that’s how Space Coast Pet Services was born! She is certified in Pet First Aid & CPR, bonded, insured, and proudly completed a full background check successfully. She is committed to ongoing training and education for herself and her team. To learn more, click here.
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