There are many things we know about sleep when it comes to health. This is true in both humans and animals. One recent study set forth to look at normal. Interestingly, the study noted that “research on dogs and sleep has outpaced our basic knowledge about what a ‘normal’ sleep/wake cycle looks like.”1
So, what is normal for dogs?
- Most dogs have two activity peaks during the day: a shorter window from 8 a.m. to 10 a.m., followed by a midday lull and a longer active period from about 5 p.m. to 11 p.m.
- All dogs were more active during weekends than weekdays.
- Dogs were most active when human interaction happens
- There were the occasional outliers -- we did capture some midday 'zoomies'
- Lighter dogs tended to be more active in a short period just after midnight
- Female dogs seemed to be more active during the evening peak than males.
- Older dogs were less active during the peak activity times.
What do we know about lack of sleep?
Dog studies from the late 1800’s revealed that 9 – 17 days of being forced to stay away would result in brain degeneration and death in dogs or puppies. (no ethics boards back then, I presume!)2
Sleep disturbances and correlations to other issues
- Sleep deprivation has been shown to be a precipitating factors in idiopathic epilepsy.3
- Sleep apnea is more common in flat-faced breeds, where snoring is also common4
- Disturbance of the sleep/wake cycle is a common clinical signs in dogs with canine cognitive dysfunction.5
- Pain, due to osteoarthritis can impact sleep, as evidenced by an improvement in sleep with the addition of NSAIDs6
What might improve sleep?
- Treatment of canine cognitive dysfunction tends to include dietary interventions including the use of antioxidants and medium-chain triglycerides.7
- Structured rest that included darkness, quietness, and comfort
- Consider timing pain medications before bed time
- Daylight during daytime hours
- Some form of exercises during the day (at least 2 – 3 hours before bedtime)
- Brain games / Novel outings
This this blog just scratches the surface of sleep and its influence on dog health. However, I hope it makes you think and provides you with a little bit of background knowledge to at least have conversations with your dog owners about sleep and their dog.
So, until next time! Cheers and happy Zzzzzzz’s!
1. North Carolina State University. "Study sets baseline for sleep patterns in healthy adult dogs." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 18 December 2020. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2020/12/201218112451.htm>.
2. Bentivoglio M, Grassi-Zucconi G. The pioneering experimental studies on sleep deprivation. Sleep. 1997 Jul;20(7):570-6. doi: 10.1093/sleep/20.7.570. PMID: 9322273.
3. Bentivoglio M, Grassi-Zucconi G. The pioneering experimental studies on sleep deprivation. Sleep. 1997 Jul;20(7):570-6. doi: 10.1093/sleep/20.7.570. PMID: 9322273.
4. Pendergrass J. Sleep Disorders in Dogs. November 30, 2020. PetMD. https://www.petmd.com/dog/general-health/4-sleep-disorders-dogs
5. Dewey CW, Davies ES, Xie H, Wakshlag JJ. Canine Cognitive Dysfunction: Pathophysiology, Diagnosis, and Treatment. Vet Clin North Am Small Anim Pract. 2019 May;49(3):477-499. doi: 10.1016/j.cvsm.2019.01.013. Epub 2019 Mar 5.
6. Gruen ME, Samson DR, Lascelles BDX. Functional linear modeling of activity data shows analgesic-mediated improved sleep in dogs with spontaneous osteoarthritis pain. Sci Rep. 2019 Oct 2;9(1):14192.
7. Manteca X. Nutrition and behavior in senior dogs. Top Companion Anim Med. 2011 Feb;26(1):33-6.