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Ask A Vet: How Do I Know If My Dog Had A Good Night’s Sleep?


Sleep is necessary for us all. Sleep allows our bodies to rest and regenerate and dogs are no different.

Healing can occur during rest times and our brains and bodies need to reset during the inactive times that we sleep. Studies also show that there is a relationship between sleep and learning. 1

We know that sleep is important for ourselves and our dogs, so we would like to know how to tell if our dog is sleeping well.

There are some signs that your dog is not sleeping adequately. See if you notice any of these signs in your dog.

Dogs that are tired tend to nap excessively. They might seem to be asleep almost every time you look up and be harder to waken. Dogs can experience narcolepsy, a neurologic sleep disorder characterized by excessive sleepiness. ² Narcolepsy can be genetic or caused by certain types of tumors, so if you notice excessive sleepiness in your dog, seek help. It’s not normal for dogs to fall asleep in the middle of daily activities, but occasional sleepiness following a single restless night is not great cause for concern.

Exhaustion can cause disinterest in the things that your dog usually enjoys, so if your usually playful pooch does not seem interested, it could be a sign of exhaustion. Fatigue can also make a dog more reactive to stimuli. He might bark at little noises or react poorly to visitors or even be less reactive and sleep through noises and visitors. You will need to use your knowledge of your own dog’s disposition to help you decide.

Be aware that sleep disturbances and many of these symptoms can be warning signs of illness also, so if your dog is not acting normal or does not seem to sleep well, be sure to contact your veterinarian for a full physical exam and diagnostic work. Sleep is too important to ignore and changes in sleep patterns are vital to recognize and define.

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1.Kis, A. et al. The interrelated effect of sleep and learning in dogs (Canis familiaris); an EEG and behavioural study. Sci. Rep. 7, 41873; doi: 10.1038/srep41873 (2017).

2. Schmid S, Hodshon A, Olin S, Pfeiffer I, Hecht S. Pituitary Macrotumor Causing Narcolepsy-Cataplexy in a Dachshund. J Vet Intern Med. 2017 Mar;31(2):545-549. doi: 10.1111/jvim.14640. Epub 2017 Jan 15. PubMed PMID: 28090682; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC5354012.

Written by Dr. Kathryn Primm
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