It may come as a surprise, but humans aren’t the only creatures that suffer from sleep disorders – dogs can too. And our furry friend’s symptoms are very similar to what we experience.
On average, your dog should sleep 12-14 hours in a 24-hour cycle split between daily naps and bedtime. Less than that, and they won’t be feeling too great. Just like you when you don’t get your full 8 hours!
Warning signs that your dog may not be sleeping well include crying, whining, waking up throughout the night, appearing disorientated, and lacking energy. An insufficient amount of rest may increase their stress hormones, which can result in behavioral problems. Increased stress can also weaken their immune systems, making them prone to illness.
If you’re concerned, your dog may be suffering from a sleep disorder, read on to learn more.
Common Sleep Disorders in Dogs
As cute as it may seem, if your pup looks like they’re running while asleep, it may indicate they’re suffering from REM Sleep Behavior Disorder. This disorder can become problematic if not properly treated.
In some cases, your dog may get up and run while asleep, potentially injuring themselves. Or, they may get aggressive as a result. Your vet will be able to prescribe medication to reduce the likelihood of this disorder occurring, although this will need to be managed appropriately to prevent reoccurrence.
Not so cute? Snoring. If your dog’s snoring is an ongoing problem, they may be suffering from sleep apnea. This condition is most common in flat-faced or obese dogs and can result in difficulty breathing. However, your furry friend may just have allergies, so this needs to be ruled out first.
If your dog passes out after a good exercise session, it’s usually nothing to worry about. However, if they suddenly seem to pass out at odd times, narcolepsy could be at play. This can be a terrifying experience, as your dog will suddenly lapse into a deep sleep, and waking them up isn’t always easy.
Narcolepsy is a disorder that affects the nervous system and is caused by insufficient hypocretin levels in the brain. Inactivity and obesity can also contribute to the onset of this disorder. It’s not life-threatening and can be adequately managed by identifying the triggers and exploring treatment options.
Of course, we cannot forget insomnia.
Sometimes your pup will be unable to fall asleep for several reasons, although this condition is thought to be pretty rare in the canine world. In the cases where insomnia is present, it’s often an indication of an underlying issue such as pain, stress, and anxiety. A lack of sleep on its own can also result in serious health issues, so if you think your pup is suffering from insomnia, a thorough health check is advised.
Dementia can play a part in keeping your pooch up at night too, especially when he’s constantly pacing due to being confused. It’s not a sleep disorder, but it will impact the quality of sleep, and you need to do what you can to make them more comfortable.
Treating Sleep Disorders In Dogs
Before you set out on solving your pup’s sleeping problems, speak to your vet first. They’ll be able to properly diagnose the disorder and suggest a possible treatment plan to mitigate the symptoms.
In some cases, simple lifestyle changes will be sufficient in keeping sleep disorders at bay, while medication may be recommended in others. In extreme cases, depending on what your dog is suffering from, surgery may be required to fix the problem. If your dog is a flat-faced breed like a French Bulldog or Boston Terrier, they may have their palette shortened, or their nostrils widened to allow for better airflow. These surgeries are commonplace and can make a world of difference.
More often than not, your treatment plan will be made up of different components to ensure that the disorder is properly managed.
More recently, we have seen CBD oil used to treat certain conditions in pets, including pain and inflammation, stress, anxiety, and seizures. It can also aid in treating glaucoma, lack of appetite, depression, and, of course, sleeplessness. If you prefer a more natural approach, this may be the right option for you.
Better Safe Than Sorry
If your pup starts acting differently, there’s usually a good reason why. Pay careful attention to your dog’s behavior and try to make a note of any sudden changes. If you could record the episodes or incidents, it will help your vet provide an accurate diagnosis and treatment plan.
Keeping your dog safe while they are sleeping is a major priority when a sleep disorder is involved. You need to keep their sleeping area clear from any hazards to prevent potential injury if they suddenly awake. If they sleep outside in a kennel, ensure it’s placed well away from your pool so they cannot fall in when drowsy or disorientated.
If your dog suddenly becomes aggressive due to a lack of sleep, you must be cautious. While they may not attack you, they may go for another dog or even a child when being walked. If you take them out of the house, keep them on a lead and warn anyone who comes close that they are reactive. As you treat their sleep disorder, the aggression should subside, or they may need behavioral training to relearn good habits.
Speak To A Professional
Dr. Google is not always a reliable source and can do a lot more harm than good. Your vet knows your dog and is well researched in the subject of animal disorders. Plus, they can provide personalized feedback and treatment options that are suitable for your given situation.
We’ll always provide you with a ton of research-based information, but this isn’t intended to diagnose or treat any disorders. It’s merely to teach you more about what warning signs to look out for and what they may mean. We aim to create awareness and help you and your furry friend live your best, happiest, healthiest lives.