On those days we come home from work and just want to lie around the house all evening, it seems our canine friends are always willing to do the same. But they have probably been sleeping all day, right? How much sleep could Fido possibly need? The answer is plenty. But why? Sure, there are obvious reasons, but one or two may surprise you.
1. To Physically Rest: The actual amount varies due to breed, activity level, and even age affects the amount of sleep they need to function. Depending on the amount of exercise the dog gets it may need more or less than recommended times. A dog who is bored may not need to sleep as much as he does, but gets bored just as humans do. A working or a service dog must be alert for long periods of time. This requires them to sleep when their owners are, so their amount of sleep is a reflection of their owner. Generally larger breeds need more sleep than smaller ones. Older dogs tend to sleep more than middle-aged adult dogs.
2. To Grow: Like human adolescents, puppies need to sleep an enormous amount to ensure proper growth. Just like a toddler they are seemingly over excited at times, and then crash suddenly.
3. To Cope: Just as humans, dogs react to their environment. If you have recently gone through a move, death, or divorce, then Fido has too, and maybe even more so. We often forget that our dogs mimic our stress. They do not understand what’s happening and cannot predict what will happen next for instance, on moving day, as humans can. Other stresses our dogs have are their own such as new animals or people in the home, stresses during walks, or even getting lost, as 1 in 3 pets do. We could learn something here from our canine friends who know to take it easy in stressful times.
4. To Get Their REM: Dogs need rapid-eye-movement or REM, just as humans do. When Fido finally enters REM, you notice him making small movements, sounds, and sometimes appearing to twitch. Essential functions are going on in his brain. His brain needs to “reboot” just as a computer does. This is also when dreaming takes place. While humans spend 25% of sleep time in REM, dogs only spend 10%.
5. To Get Their Non-REM: New research has found that dogs have sleep patterns more similar to humans than once believed. A new study conducted at Eötvös Loránd University in Budapest, Hungary showed that during non-REM sleep, dogs’ brains showed short bursts of activity termed “sleep spindles”. When sleep spindles are working, the brain is being shielded from letting outside information in. This is important because during memory consolidation, outside information will disrupt or taint the process. These sleep spindles are also found in human brain activity during the same non-REM stage. Amazingly, the frequency of the sleep spindles showed a positive correlation to how well a dog retained any information it had just learned before sleeping. This is the first time this particular correlation has been shown in dogs. Other similarities were found, too. Female dogs had twice as many sleep spindles as the male dogs, just as humans due to sex hormones. In other words, Fido needs to sleep if you want him to learn new tricks!
So, an average dog needs between 13-15 hours of sleep per day, larger dogs above 40 pounds need even two or three more hours, and older dogs even more. Considering these needs, and with less time spent in REM than humans, Fido really does need his sleep. LET SLEEPING DOGS LIE!!
Jamie Wade is a freelance writer. She uses her knowledge, skills, and personal experience to help clients present their product or convey their message. When not working, you can find her with her teenage son and two beloved babies-adopted dogs, Tipsy and Buddy. She is also a writer for Pet Wellness Advisor.