Posted 4th Jan 2018
We all know it's important to get a good night's sleep, but did you know it's equally important for your pet?
It can be hard to know how much they need - however, this guide could help to make the difference.
A good nap now and then is a great way of recharging our batteries - however, so do our pets, especially while you're away from work or out of the house. Did you know a cat has a more broken sleep pattern, choosing to take long naps rather than prolonged sleep at night? Dogs, in comparison, will take little naps during the day and do most of their sleeping at night.
When it comes to general sleep patterns, this will depend on your pet's age, size and daily activities.
Most adult dogs will take a nap after a long walk, but are typically active and awake whilst you're at home. Working dogs, such as police or rescue dogs, will often manage to go a whole day without sleeping. As your dog gets older, and health conditions such as arthritis or hip dysplasia manifest, they'll begin to slow down, requiring more rest. As a general rule of thumb, dogs will need the following amount of sleep to stay happy and healthy:
- Puppies: 12-18 hours a day
- Adult dogs: 14 hours a day
- Large adult dogs: Up to 18 hours a day
- Senior dogs: 18+ hours a day (this will depend on their health and overall condition)
Cats typically sleep for around 16 hours a day, with kittens and seniors snoozing even longer than that. People worry that their cat sleeps too much, but the truth is they will sleep twice as much as we do, so it's not surprising to feel they need a nap all the time.
What does sleep mean to their health?
The quality and length of sleep that your four-legged friend gets each night can impact, not only on their health as this will be when our pets do most of their regenerating, but also their behaviour, as the rise in stress hormones from lack of sleep can lead to increased grumpiness and misbehaviour.
On top of this, like us humans, dogs and cats can release the hormone melatonin while they're deeply sleeping, helping to build a strong immune system by protecting their cells. Therefore, even if your pet doesn't get enough sleep, their overall health could be negatively affected.
Tips for the perfect nap
If you're worried about the quality of sleep your pet's getting, or want to help to improve their sleep routine, try these simple steps.
1 Give them space
We may want to snuggle up to our pets while they sleep but they're actually better off with their own space. A cat’s independent nature and erratic sleep patterns mean they're often up in the night, so you would develop your own sleep problems from being woken up. Like humans, dogs will experience rapid eye movement (REM) stage in their sleep. This means they dream too. This can cause them to bark, whine or kick their legs, so their own space will be vital for a sound sleep. Certain breeds, in particular the small ones, prefer the sanctuary of their own bed, and the safety of being in a small, enclosed area.
2 Exercise regularly
Like humans, a lack of exercise and excitement can cause both insomnia and lethargy - this is subsequently a big cause of depression in our canine companions and feline friends. Ideally, you should try and get out of the house for 30 minutes a day with your dog, whether it's for a brisk walk around the neighbourhood or a game of ball in the park. If you have a cat, create a fun game with their favourite toys to keep them moving and mentally stimulated.
3 Let your pet out right before bedtime
Many people will take their dog out in the middle of the evening, before settling down to catch up on the latest TV. However, make the toilet break the last thing your pet does before bed - they will therefore have an empty bladder, making both of you sleep better.
4 Create a calming vibe
Like children, pets need a calming bedtime routine to get them into a sleepy mood. Keep activity, including walks and playtime, to a minimum right before bed, so you feel calmer and aren't craving water - this could increase their need to go out in the middle of the night. Relaxing head strokes can also help to soothe your pet into a deep sleep.
Tips courtesy of IAMS