What are the top 3 ways sleep impacts a dog’s health?

Dr. Hannah Capon: Canine Arthritis Management (CAM)

Canine Arthritis Management (CAM) was developed by Hannah Capon, a veterinary surgeon with wide-ranging experience of working with arthritic dogs, their owners and fellow professionals to create effective long-term management plans.

CAM is committed to promoting better care of our aging canine friends. We believe that through education the disease can be better tackled to give our dogs longer, healthier lives free from pain. CAM aims to challenge arthritis as the major cause of elective euthanasia in the UK.

What are the top 3 ways sleep impacts a dog’s health?

Sleep is essential - FACT! Without sleep we become unwell emotionally, mentally and physically. We know this from how we humans feel when sleep deprived. We lose concentration and the ability to process information. We become ratty and intolerant. We feel lethargic and often binge on high carbohydrate foods. Studies have shown that over time sleep deprivation leads to increased risk of weight gain, heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes and poor immunity, as well as leaving us more likely to underperform and have accidents. It also leads to an increased perception of pain. That means it will magnify the pain experience.

Sleep has a huge impact on general behavior because during sleep memory consolidation and reorganization occurs as well as rebalancing of brain chemicals and electricity. Poor sleep will lead to poor learning, reduced ability to cope in stressful situations and resultant poor behavior.

The above concerns regarding poor sleep can easily be translated to the dogs in our care. However, additional concerns are that an adult dog requires more sleep than their human counterpart, which means they need more opportunities to sleep than we provide ourselves. On average an adult dog requires between 10.5 and 12 hours every 24 hours, which does not align with the normal quotient of 8 hours that a human requires. Luckily dogs are polyphasic sleepers meaning that they take it in patches across 24 hours. Most of this tends to be at night as they fall into our rhythm, but they can catch up on the remaining through taking naps throughout the day. 

Dogs are social sleepers meaning they like to sleep in social groups and near their owners. They tend to like to sleep on raised platforms which is likely due to them minimizing the risk of getting caught out by a predator.

Here are some key tips to obtain optimal sleep.

  1. Ensure the whole family understands how your dog requires a good amount of sleep per day, so they respect this behavior as being needed when it occurs rather than wishing your dog to be participating all the time.
  2. Ensure they have a number of safe, draught-free, low traffic, comfortable places to sleep so that they have choice.
  3. Ensure that their social needs are met. If they show signs of distress, anxiety, fear related behaviors then consider relocating their bed near to yours ie upstairs where they can hear, see and smell you.
  4. Ensure that they have a big comfortable orthopedic bed such as a Big Barker. On a Big Barker they can stretch out and press into the raised and layered foam without risk of touching the ground.

With these tips, your dog will sleep better, feel more rested, and you can be assured that they are at their maximum health.  


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