Is That Normal? Understanding Pets’ Sleeping Habits

By Sara Westgreen on Jun 02, 2018 at 10:00 am

Is That Normal? Understanding Pets’ Sleeping Habits

Claws scratch lightly on the carpet, and a muffled woof escapes your dog’s mouth. You imagine that she is having a dream about chasing squirrels. Pets do dream just as we do. In some ways, pets sleep a lot like us, but they are also a bit different.

Sometimes it’s hard to know what’s normal and what sleep oddities are concerning enough for a trip to the vet. Learning more about your dog or cat’s sleep patterns may help you diagnose what is cute and what is more worrying.

Pets Sleep More than People

Dogs and cats sleep for more hours than the 7 or more hours that people tend to sleep. Cat owners may estimate that their cats sleep up to 20 hours per day. However, most cats sleep between 12 and 16 hours per day, which is not much more than a typical dog’s 12 to 14 hours of sleep per day. However, all people don’t sleep the same amount, and pet’s individual needs may differ as well.

Pets tend to sleep more if:

- They are bored or sedentary
- They are growing puppies or kittens
- They are old animals
- They are overweight (common in cats)

Pets may sleep less if they are kept busy and occupied. High-energy working animals like police dogs and herding dogs will sleep less than your old golden retriever.

Knowing how much sleep is too much can be hard to determine. It’s best to know your pet’s habits. If they start sleeping a lot more than they did before, it may be time for a quick checkup at the vet.

Pets Sleep in Short Bursts

Most people would consider pets’ sleep as more of a series of naps than a deep night’s sleep. Dogs sleep in 16-minute asleep and 5-minute awake cycles. During an 8 hour period, they can have 23 sleep-wake cycles! Cats also have similarly short sleep cycles. They don’t pass out for 90 minutes at a time like we do when we nap. They are more often on alert and awakening to check out their environment.

Weird Sleep Positions are Okay

Does your dog sleep with all four paws in the air? It looks hilarious, and it’s nothing to worry about. Dogs often sleep in this position when they are hot to cool down their bellies. It’s also a vulnerable position, so sleeping this way means that your pup probably feels safe. A nervous dog is more likely to sleep in a tight ball. Most dogs seem to cycle through multiple positions as they get comfy.

More disconcerting than the paws-in-the air dog is the wizard cat, who appears to be sitting upright but is also asleep. Yes, your cat is actually asleep. Cats can sleep lightly with their muscles tensed. If they are sprawled across the bed with all their muscles relaxed, they are probably in a deep sleep.

Healthy Sleep for You and Your Pet

Many owners also are willing to share their beds with pets. Sleeping with your pup or cat has advantages and disadvantages. It makes a lot of people feel safer and more comfortable than sleeping alone. However, you and your pet are likely to disturb each other as you move around. One way to minimize the disturbances is to buy an oversized bed with a motion-isolating mattress. These beds won’t transfer your pet’s bounces to you. Another option is to invite your pet to sleep in the room but on the floor. You still have the knowledge that your pet is nearby, but you are less likely to disrupt each other by moving.

Monitoring your pets’ sleep habits will help you make sure that they are sleeping a reasonable amount. You can also keep your pets happy and healthy by maintaining their weight and playing with them regularly.

Posted in Health by Sara Westgreen on Jun 02, 2018 at 10:00 am

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