Have questions about pets and sleep? You’ve come to the right place. We’ve got answers to help put your questions to bed.
Our pets sleep a lot. Adult dogs can sleep 12 to 14 hours a day. Puppies can sleep even longer—up to 20 hours a day or more. Older dogs and dogs with health issues may also sleep more since they can tire out easily.
Dogs require more sleep than we do since they nod off for shorter periods of time. Those additional hours help them get the deep sleep they need to feel refreshed and energized. Dogs are also flexible sleepers meaning they can doze off almost anywhere and wake up in a flash if they hear or sense something interesting.
Cats typically sleep around 16 hours a day, but they sleep in short periods between bouts of activity. Like puppies, kittens sleep more than adult cats and can snooze almost the whole day away. All that sleep helps cats prepare for the quick bursts of energy they use to stalk, chase, and catch their prey.
Some common pet sleep questions include: Why do dogs whimper in their sleep? Why do cats twitch in their sleep? Why do dogs bark in their sleep? The answer to these questions is because they’re probably dreaming.
Of course, we can’t really understand what’s going on between those furry ears. But we do know that pets, like humans, go through cycles of sleep. These cycles include REM (rapid eye movement) sleep, which is when we have our most vivid dreams—and we assume pets have theirs.
We can guess that our pets might be taking part in some of their favorite activities while they dream. Your dog could be chasing and finally catching that car. Your cat may be stalking and pouncing on the bird they’ve been watching outside the window every morning.
When pets are dreaming during REM sleep, they can move around and make all sorts of noises like grunting or growling. If your pet is dreaming, it’s best to leave them alone. If you wake them up, you could startle them, and they might get hurt or injure you.
Where your pet sleeps is a personal decision. It’s really about what works best for you and your four-legged friend. But here are some pros and cons to consider.
Pets make noise at night by rustling around, snoring, or getting up for a trip to the litterbox, midnight snack, or drink of water. If you’re a light sleeper, they can interfere with a good night’s sleep, causing you to wake up groggy.
If you have allergies to pets, you should also consider keeping them out of your room or at least off the bed at night. You don’t want to sleep with your face in their fur or inhale their dander from your bedding. If you like having your pet in the bedroom, consider setting their crate or a cozy pet bed on the floor for them.
It can feel safe and comforting to have your pet in the room or on your bed when you go to sleep. They’re cozy, cuddly, and warm. Plus, they can help you rest easy knowing they’re there to guard and protect you—depending on their size and personality.
Dogs may also not interrupt your beauty rest as much as you thought. One study found that pups are less disruptive to sleep than human partners or cats. You might also improve your nightly routine when you adjust your sleep habits to accommodate a pet who goes to bed earlier.
If you choose to sleep with your pet, be sure to protect them from fleas, ticks, and other parasites. While your pet won’t typically make you sick, those pests can irritate you as well.
Sleep apnea causes breathing to stop and start abruptly during sleep. If you hear your dog snoring loudly and struggling for air while they’re snoozing, they could have this disorder. Your dog may also seem fatigued during the day since they’re not getting the ZZ’s they need to feel refreshed.
Causes of sleep apnea can include allergies, obesity, and obstructions in the nose or throat. It’s more prevalent in dogs with short muzzles who tend to have respiratory issues, such as Pugs and Bulldogs. If you suspect your dog has sleep apnea, you should consult with your veterinarian.
They can help identify the cause and suggest treatment. Obese or overweight dogs may need to lose weight by changing their diet and getting more exercise. Pups with an obstruction might require surgery to remove or fix the malformation. Dogs with allergies may benefit from medication and reducing exposure to the allergen as much as possible.
CPAP (Continuous Positive Airway Pressure) machines are commonly used for humans with sleep apnea. Someone using a CPAP machine places a mask over their nose and mouth, which provides a constant stream of pressurized air. This helps them breathe more easily during the night.
CPAP machines are not available for dogs. It’s hard to imagine getting a dog to wear a mask hooked up to a machine overnight. However, there are other treatments that can help your dog. Your veterinarian can walk you through your options.
Cats have some odd sleeping habits, but there are reasons for these quirky behaviors.
After you brush your teeth, you start to climb into bed only to notice that your cat is hogging up your favorite pillow. Some cats love sleeping on our pillows because they’re just so warm and comfortable. They also smell like us, which can be comforting to your kitty.
Cats are hardwired to look for places to rest where they feel protected. In the wild, this is a survival behavior that would help protect them from predators. Your cat might seek out the back of a dark closet, slip behind the storage boxes under your bed, or find some other out-of-the-way place to snooze peacefully.
Many cats prefer to sleep at the foot of the bed, where they feel the safest. Our beds are often in or near the center of the room, which gives cats a great vantage point. This position also allows them to jump off and move in any direction to escape a perceived threat.
Have you ever caught your cat sleeping with their little paws draped over their face? This is up there with one of the most adorable things cats do. They may be using their paws to block the light and sleep more easily. They might also feel better protected when they cover their face.
There are some steps you can take to help your pet get a good night’s rest. For instance:
You should also visit the veterinarian regularly. Annual wellness check-ups can help detect issues that might interfere with your pet’s sleep. They’re also a great time to ask your veterinarian any questions you might have about your pet’s sleeping habits.
The information presented in this article is for educational and informational purposes only and does not constitute or substitute for the advice of your veterinarian.
title: FAQs About Pet Sleep Habits
author: Heather M.