Brian Faulkner - BSc (Hons), BVM&S, MBA, MSc(Psych), MRCVS

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How much sleep does my puppy need?

Brian Faulkner - BSc (Hons), BVM&S, MBA, MSc(Psych), MRCVS
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We’re all fascinated by the mysteries of sleep. It’s certainly an online obsession – YouTube has 1,000’s of videos of people, dogs and even a budgie dozing.

Despite years of research, scientists are mostly still in the dark about why we and our pets need to sleep, or what goes on in our brains when we do.

But they have discovered that all higher mammals and birds share a similar sleep cycle. Fish and reptiles have drowsy periods, but birds and mammals have proper sleep cycles.

While we humans average seven and a half hours sleep a night, for the rest of the mammalian kingdom, sleep is one of the things they do best. Dogs are naturally well adjusted to lying around when the opportunity presents itself and the domesticated lifestyle we offer our pets is often full of these opportunities.

Like adult dogs, some puppy’s rarely nap while others hardly ever seem awake. People often under estimate the amount of sleep a puppy needs although anyone who has had a baby will know how much infant humans sleep, so may not be so surprised.

The breed of a puppy can affect how much sleep they need. For example an adult Border Collie can work all day without rest, whereas Newfoundlands can easily sleep all day, it is likely these differences can affect cross breeds too. These breed sleep traits can start to show themselves in puppies, although all puppies needs more sleep than when they are adults.

Whenever possible it is important to leave puppies to rest when they are sleeping. Constant waking and lack of sleep can cause irritability. It is an important lesson for children, and some adults, to learn to wait patiently until their puppy wakes up of its own accord. It’s also a good idea to provide a safe place for pets to sleep undisturbed.

Puppies can be under-stimulated due to their owners’ busy lives. They go to sleep at the same time as their owners, but wake after a few hours, having had enough rest, and then rouse the household. Providing more for your pet to do in the day may help keep your puppy’s brain busy.

Puppies may also have trouble sleeping if they are uncomfortable. If your puppy is scratching himself more than usual its possible fleas or an allergy are to blame and this can interfere with their sleep. If you’re worried about his abnormal sleeping, consult your vet in case it’s a sign of something medically wrong.

Brian Faulkner - BSc (Hons), BVM&S, MBA, MSc(Psych), MRCVS

Brian graduated from Edinburgh Vet School in 1995 and worked in mixed practice before studying for an MBA at Nottingham Business School in 2000/2001. After setting up and developing numerous veterinary practices in Suffolk in the 2000s, Brian was awarded the Petplan-UK Vet of the Year in 2008 after having been runner-up in 2007. Brian is currently the Petplan Pet Insurance media and PR vet and works in his own small animal veterinary practice 3 days a week. During his 20 year career Brian has worked in over 250 veterinary practices as a clinician, consultant and confidence coach.

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