The Importance of Sleep for Dogs: How Nutrition Plays a Vital Role

As pet parents, we know we all want the best for our furry companions. One crucial, and often overlooked, aspect of their well-being is sleep. Just like us, dogs need quality sleep to stay healthy and happy. In this blog post, we'll explore normal dog sleeping habits, ideal sleep environments, common sleep concerns, and most importantly, how nutrition can contribute to a good night's rest for your beloved canine companion.

Understanding Normal Dog Sleeping Habits

Dogs are natural sleepers, typically spending about 50% of their day snoozing. However, sleep patterns can vary depending on factors such as age, breed, and activity level. Most adult dogs sleep for 12-14 hours a day, while puppies and seniors may require even more sleep, up to about 18 hours.

Creating a Restful Sleep Environment

Where your dog sleeps can greatly impact the quality of their rest (and yours). Providing a comfortable and safe sleep environment is crucial. Consider a quiet, cozy spot away from distractions, and provide a well-cushioned bed or blanket for optimal comfort. 

We won’t be surprised to hear if you choose to snuggle with your pup at night (we do too). This can provide a safe environment for your pup to sleep at night; however, it’s important to ensure both you and your pup can get a restful sleep! 

Common Sleep Concerns

Just like humans, dogs can experience sleep disturbances and disorders. It's essential to be aware of these concerns and address them promptly. Some common sleep issues in dogs include:

  • Insomnia
  • Excessive snoring
  • Restless leg syndrome
  • Sleep apnea 

If you notice any persistent sleep problems, consulting with a veterinarian is advisable.

The Role of Nutrition in Sleep

Consuming a balanced diet that includes high-quality ingredients is essential for promoting good sleep in dogs. Fresh pet food, made from real ingredients and minimally processed, provides the necessary nutrients for overall health, including sleep. A balanced diet should contain appropriate levels of protein, carbohydrates, fats, vitamins, and minerals.

1. Protein: Protein is essential for muscle repair and growth, which can aid in recovery during sleep. It also provides the building blocks for neurotransmitters that regulate sleep patterns.

2. Carbohydrates: Complex carbohydrates and fibres, such as whole grains and vegetables, provide a steady release of energy throughout the day, helping to maintain stable blood sugar levels. This can prevent energy crashes that may disrupt sleep.

3. Fats: Healthy fats, like omega-3 fatty acids, have anti-inflammatory properties and support brain health. They can help contribute to a calm and relaxed state, reducing stress and promoting better sleep quality.

4. Vitamins and Minerals: Adequate levels of vitamins and minerals are necessary for various physiological processes in the body. Deficiencies in certain nutrients, such as B vitamins, magnesium, and zinc, may negatively impact sleep.

5. Amino Acids (ie. Tryptophan): Amino acids are the building blocks of proteins and play a vital role in regulating sleep patterns. Tryptophan, an essential amino acid, is a precursor to serotonin and melatonin, both of which are involved in sleep regulation.

6. Water: Proper hydration is crucial for overall health and can impact sleep quality. Fresh pet food, with its high moisture content, can help keep dogs adequately hydrated and keep regular urination patterns, helping to avoid disruptions during sleep. Good hydration supports optimal bodily functions, including brain function and temperature regulation, all of which are important for a good night's sleep.

It’s also important to consider the overall digestive health of our pups and how that can impact sleep. Digestive health plays a crucial role in promoting restful sleep. Gently cooked, fresh pet food is often easy to digest and can be beneficial for the microbiome. It contains natural enzymes that support the breakdown and absorption of nutrients, reducing the likelihood of digestive discomfort that may disrupt sleep. In addition, the effects on the microbiome could improve sleep quality. 

Aside from nutritional inadequacies, certain nutritional disorders can affect sleep:

Obesity: Obesity in dogs can lead to various health issues, including sleep disturbances. Excess weight puts additional strain on joints and can contribute to conditions such as sleep apnea, where breathing is interrupted during sleep. Dogs with obesity may also experience difficulty finding a comfortable sleeping position, leading to restless sleep.

Proper nutrition plays a crucial role in managing and preventing obesity. A balanced diet that controls calorie intake and provides essential nutrients can help maintain a healthy weight. Our low-fat menu, with a focus on high-quality ingredients and portion control, can be a beneficial choice for dogs prone to obesity! By managing weight effectively, you can improve sleep quality and overall well-being. 

Gut Dysbiosis: The gut microbiome, consisting of trillions of microorganisms in the digestive tract, plays a vital role in overall health, including sleep regulation. An imbalance in the gut microbiome, known as gut dysbiosis, can lead to various health issues, including sleep disturbances. For example, dysbiosis can lead to diarrhea, which can cause regular interruptions during sleep. Gently cooked pet food may have beneficial effects on the microbiome. 

Diarrhea: As stated, diarrhea can cause regular sleep interruptions and discomfort for your pup. Our Tummy Tamer can help get them back on track! For more information on diarrhea and how our gently cooked pet food can help, read this previous post on Diarrhea in Dogs.

Allergies and Food Sensitivities: Food allergies or sensitivities can cause discomfort, inflammation, and digestive disturbances in dogs. These issues can disrupt sleep patterns and lead to restlessness. Common allergens include ingredients like wheat proteins, beef and chicken. If your pup has food allergies or sensitivities, consider our novel protein meals: Rosemary Vension, Kangaroo, and even our Fisherman’s Best Friend!

Pancreatitis: Dogs with pancreatitis may experience abdominal pain, bloating, and discomfort. These symptoms can lead to restlessness, difficulty finding a comfortable sleeping position, and interrupted sleep patterns. The pain associated with pancreatitis may cause dogs to wake up frequently during the night, leading to disrupted sleep. Our low-fat menu is designed specifically for pups with pancreatitis. Each low-fat meal has a fat content of 25 g fat per 1000kcal (or lower) which makes them suitable for pancreatitis-prone pups! 

Sleep is a vital aspect of your dog's well-being, and as pet parents, we can support their sleep health through various means. Providing a comfortable sleep environment and addressing any sleep concerns are crucial. Additionally, nutrition plays a significant role, and a gently cooked, fresh pet food diet can be an excellent choice for promoting better sleep. Consider choosing a diet that prioritizes high-quality ingredients, digestive health, essential nutrients, and proper hydration to help your furry friend enjoy restful and rejuvenating sleep. 

Remember, every dog is unique, and it's important to consider their individual needs and any specific health concerns. Consult with a veterinarian to determine the best nutrition and sleep plan for your dog to optimize their sleep health.

Written by: Hannah Godfrey
Animal Nutritionist
BSc.H. | MSc. Animal Nutrition