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My dog does not sleep: what can I do?



If your dog doesn’t get enough sleep, his quality of life can be reduced. That is why it is essential to know the causes that may be affecting you and apply the necessary changes or treatments to regain your well-being. In this article, we will tell you more about why your dog may not sleep.

How is the sleep of dogs?

In general, dogs sleep about 50% of their time intermittently, although much of this time they are not sound asleep – staying alert is a natural survival mechanism for them.

The sleep of adult dogs is variable depending on multiple factors such as the photoperiod (relationship between the hours of light and darkness ), the tranquility and familiarity that it feels with respect to the environment in which it is, the activities it performs daily, the pace of life led by their owners or their state of health.

Benefits of a good rest

That dogs get enough and good quality sleep is essential for their survival since many of the essential functions of the organism take place during sleep, such as:

  • Replacement of energy necessary for maintenance.
  • Fixing useful experiences and discarding those that are not.
  • Improves learning ability .
  • It favors the development and growth of dogs, especially puppies, by releasing growth hormones.
  • Protects brain functions .
  • Contributes to the proper functioning of the immune system .                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                         Therefore, as with people, when a dog does not get enough sleep for a long time, it can show behaviors such as apathy, restlessness, nervousness, and irritability, leading to health problems such as stress or anxiety, and even organic diseases.

Why is my dog not sleeping?

The causes of your dog, not sleeping can be very varied, for example:

Emotions such as fear, anxiety, or stress

Novel situations, sudden changes in their environment or routines, new surroundings or coexistence companions, noises that scare them (firecrackers, gunshots …), loneliness or absence of the owner (the so-called “separation anxiety”) … can cause these altered emotional states that keep your dog on alert preventing deep rest.

Some of these situations occur temporarily until habituation occurs, that is, you get used to it. However, others may require behavior modification therapies (such as separation anxiety) and/or drug therapy (for firecracker phobia, for example).

Discomfort in your rest area

Sometimes your dog may not sleep because he is used to doing it in a different way (in your company, on another type of surface, or in another area) and now, he may simply not like the resting place or it is not comfortable for him, and it takes a few days to get used to it.

Pain or itching (itching)

The causes that cause pain, itching (allergies, dermatopathies …) or any type of discomfort or organic disease (hyperthyroidism, respiratory diseases, or alterations of the nervous system in older dogs such as senile dementia, etc.) can cause your dog not to get adequate sleep.

Periods of heat

During the heat stages of females, especially if there is a female dog in heat in their vicinity, males can be restless, hyperexcitable, and anxious, also affecting their sleep hours.

Insufficient or excessive stimuli

Moderate physical and mental stimulation adapted to the needs of our dog is essential for healthy development. Both an excess and a defect can have repercussions on your health and emotional state that manifests as hyperexcitability, restlessness, anxiety, or stress.

Meals that are too heavy or copious

Gastrointestinal overload, that is, eating too much, especially shortly before going to sleep, can make it difficult for your dog to fall asleep.

Extreme temperatures

Although in general dogs have a good thermoregulatory capacity, too much cold or heat can affect your dog’s sleep.

Recommendations so that your dog can sleep well

  • The adaptation periods are always a source of stress for our friends, so we will try to make the changes progressively (habituation), gradually getting used to each new situation.
  • Provide your friend with a comfortable place, where he can feel comfortable, safe, and protected from possible external “threats”.
  • Respect their space and moments of tranquility or sleep.
  • He performs games and physical and mental activities on a routine basis, which stimulate him and help him burn excess daily energy.
  • Avoid too heavy meals and offer them well before going to sleep to avoid digestive overload.
  • Reward the moment of going to bed so that he can associate it with a positive experience, and never punish him by sending him to the place where he sleeps or rests, the effect will be a negative association and he will not want to go back there.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Generally, a few changes in the environment and management of our friends are enough to help you. However, on some occasions, it may be necessary to perform a veterinary check-up to rule out important organic diseases and to incorporate pharmacological treatments, behavior modification therapies, or even consider castration. If you notice that your dog cannot sleep despite the recommendations, do not hesitate to consult your veterinarian.
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