What Are the Causes of Dogs Sleeping Too Much?

There's nothing more adorable than a soft, warm, snoozing puppy. And it sure is satisfying to see your older dog snoring away after a long walk. Dogs sleep about 50-to-60 percent of any given day. That's 12-to-14 hours a day — far more than most people sleep.

Sleeping beagle on sofa
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Dogs' sleeping patterns are different from ours, too. Your dog may sleep more at night because you do, but they also sleep at random times throughout the day. The American Kennel Club says that dogs spend about 50 percent of their day snoozing, 30 percent being awake but lying around, and 20 percent being active.

How much is too much?

Determining whether your dog is sleeping too much is a little complicated. This is because many factors come into play. Age, size, and breed all have a bearing on how much a dog sleeps. Also, older dogs and puppies tend to sleep more.

Older dogs sleep more because they tire more easily. Just going back and forth between the backyard and their feed bowl can burn up a lot of their limited energy. Puppies sleep more because they exhaust themselves exploring and playing when they're awake.

Larger breeds tend to sleep more than small breeds. But there are exceptions. On the small and sleepy list, you'll find Shih Tzus and French Bulldogs.

Causes of sleeping too much

After considering your dog's age, size and breed, if you still think he's sleeping too much, ask yourself these questions: Have there been any major changes in his life? Could there be an underlying health issue?

Major changes like the loss of a buddy or moving to a new home can be very stressful for your dog. He may even become depressed. Time and lots of TLC will usually resolve this. But if your dog doesn't seem to be recovering from the loss or change, consider talking to your vet about an antidepressant.

Several antidepressants for humans can be effective for dogs, too. Vets most commonly prescribe antidepressants for dogs to treat anxiety issues like tail chasing and nonstop licking. But they can also help ease depression.

Excessive sleeping and lethargy may also be due to an underlying health problem. For example, diabetes and hypothyroidism can drain a dog's energy. A dog that's in pain will withdraw and may spend a lot of time in his bed. There's one sure way to find out if sleeping too much is a symptom of a health issue. Take your dog to the vet.

Know your dog’s sleep habits

If you're not sure whether your dog is sleeping too much, try to get familiar with her sleeping pattern. If you know how much and when she usually sleeps, you'll know when it's changed. Unless you work from home, you'll probably have to enlist the help of technology to figure this out.

Being home on weekends is a change in your routine which changes your dog's routine too. So tracking her sleep Saturday and Sunday is not a good gauge for what goes on the other five days of the week. Consider buying a video camera to track your dog's activity (and lack of it). Pet cams are available in a wide range of prices.

Some pet cams just record; others provide a live feed for you to tap into throughout the day. Some setups let you talk to your dog and dispense treats. One even has an aromatherapy feature so you can trigger the release of a calming scent. If you work at night, you can get one with night vision.

One last word: diet.

Dogs do not require carbohydrates. Protein and fat are all that a dog needs. That said, moderate amounts of complex carbohydrates won't hurt your dog. Their nutrients and fiber can help nourish a dog and keep things moving.

However, if you're feeding your sleepy dog a diet that is very high in carbohydrates, this could be the culprit. A diet that is very high in carbs can make a dog go through blood sugar spikes and then bottom out. This can lead to energy highs and lows as well as mood swings.

Read dog food labels as carefully as you read labels for your food. Sometimes a change in diet can make all the difference.