They say, “Let sleeping dogs lie,” but what do you do if your dog isn’t sleeping? Isn’t that a staple of dog-hood? Sleeping in big chunks of the day?
It is, and if your dog is having trouble sleeping, it’s a problem. Here are a few things that may be keeping your dog (and you) up at night, and how you can help.
Is dog insomnia really a thing?
Believe it or not, it really is a thing. While it’s true that most dogs sleep between 12 and 14 hours a day, sometimes they don’t get restorative sleep or they just can’t sleep well. There’s not a ton of research on dogs’ sleep patterns or conditions, but dogs can suffer from sleep disorders.
For most dogs, the signs that they have sleep problems are similar to those you’d find in humans. They may pace or whine at bedtime, and even if they’re in their dog bed for the night, there still may be a lot of shifting and turning.
And, just like in most humans who don’t get great sleep, when they ‘wake up’ for the day, they’re probably disoriented, slower, lethargic and can be anxious and even aggressive.
If Fido being grumpy isn’t enough reason to address your dog’s insomnia, you want to make sure they’re getting their best rest so they can have strong and healthy immune systems. Again, as man’s best friend, there are many similarities to man, and sleep deprivation weakening immune systems is one of the many things we share.
Does my dog have insomnia? Here’s what to look for
Aside from the general irritability or sluggishness during the day, dogs who have insomnia or sleep problems might wake up a lot during the night and cry or whine a lot during the day–for seemingly no reason. While you want to make sure your vet clears any other impending health issues causing the whining or crying, it could likely be sleep deprivation. The same can go with recurrent infections–if it seems like your dog is always sick and can’t catch a break, you’ll want to be sure that they’re getting restorative sleep that replenishes their immune system. To be sure Fifi is getting the best brain and beauty rest she needs, watch for the following:
Lots of shifting during sleep
Sure, it’s cute when your dog is chasing squirrels endlessly in his sleep but it could be a sign of a sleep disorder that’s called REM Behavior Disorder. For some dogs, this ‘chasing deer’ can actually be more than the jostling of legs; it’s full-on running into walls or attacking objects that aren’t moving or even seizures. If this is your dog more often than not, know that he’s probably not getting the best, most restorative sleep, and it could make him vulnerable to other health conditions.
Yes, your dog can get sleep apnea too, and if you have dogs who are brachycephalic breeds, there’s even more of a chance. Dogs like Pugs, French Bulldogs, Boxers and the like may have difficulty breathing while sleeping. Sure, we love to sigh over how cute the snoring from our pups can be, but if your dog snores loudly, or frequently, or if he gasps for air between snorts and snores? He could be suffering from sleep apnea and not getting good, restorative sleep.
Don’t laugh…it’s a real thing for dogs too! If you have a dog who just seems to run and run and run and then…collapse? You may have a dog with Narcolepsy. Prevalent in Doberman Pinschers, Labrador Retrievers and Poodles, if your dog has Narcolepsy, they may suddenly collapse on his side and fall asleep after a period of play or excitement. Your dog can likely be woken up pretty easily, but you’ll want to make sure you manage the episodes as they can have an impact on their longer-term nighttime sleep.
Though it’s rare…it happens. If your dog isn’t getting enough exercise or is stressed or anxious, they may have trouble counting sheep too. Particularly if they’re not getting the best from their diet, they may have issues regulating hormones or feeling full, so their ancient wolf hunting instinct drives their anxiety to fill a belly. You’ll find insomnia more in older dogs, as a result usually of cognitive degeneration, and again, nutrient-dense diets are important.
What can I do to help my dog sleep better?
So often if your dog is having trouble sleeping there are several things you can do. First, make sure you’re getting him the proper amount of exercise. It’s important that he gets a good solid walk in every day, and extra bouts of catch or even puzzles that stimulate his brain inside the house are great helpers to make his body wear naturally and get into a good rhythm.
Also, do what you can to reduce stress. We know, we know…what does a pampered pooch have to stress about? It might surprise you to know, though, that they worry about YOU! Where you are, if you’re okay…where their toys are, when it’s time for dinner…or lunch…or snack. They worry about the UPS person on the front porch and the leaves blowing maniacally in your front yard. They can worry about anything and that cortisol keeps them raring to go. Do what you can to encourage them to relax and help eliminate situations you think they’d find anxiety-producing.
Most importantly, make sure their diet is top-notch. There’s research that shows high-quality fiber can help improve sleep, and making sure your dog is able to absorb all the vitamins and nutrients from the food you feed is key. Additionally, having good gut flora will enhance their overall mood and reduce stress, plus it will keep their immune system in good working order.
The easiest way to do this is to supplement daily with Bernie’s Perfect Poop. Bernie’s unique 4-in-1 combination of fiber, pre- and probiotics and enzymes will help ensure your dog’s optimal health. The fiber will help keep him feeling fuller and less anxious, and he’ll be feeding his gut with only premium pre- and probiotics. Bernie’s not only can help them sleep better, but keep their immune systems healthy too.
After all, good health begins in the gut, and if your dog is happy and healthy, you’ll both be sleeping easy.