What Your Dog’s Sleeping Position Will Tell You
From your pup's health to their personality, the way they sleep can reveal a lot! Make sure you're paying attention to the signs.
Curling up in a ball to sleep is a hard-wired instinct for some dogs. After all, their ancestors slept outside and curled up tightly for warmth and also to protect their vital organs from attackers while they were vulnerable. But your dog may curl up for the sheer reason it’s just comfy. Whatever the reason, Jeff Werber, DVM, says dogs who sleep in the donut position might prefer a cuddler or bolster type bed that surrounds them to feel a little more secure. Tempted to let your pup sleep on your bed? Here’s why that could be a bad idea.
Loves to play
It’s comical to see your furbaby all sprawled out on her belly with her front legs extended out and hind legs relaxed. She looks as if she’s getting in a good stretch in after an active day at the dog park, and she just may be, as dogs who sleep in this “Superman” position are generally very active and playful. Dr. Werber suggests a mattress style bed for dogs who like to let it all hang out. Head’s up pet parents, a weekly trip to the doggy park isn’t nearly enough exercise for your dog: This is how much exercise your dog needs every day.
If your aging pup has always slept in bed with you or on the sofa, it might be time to introduce him to a new bed that will age with him and is easier for him to get into i.e. no jumping required. “Some dogs might require an orthopedic bed as they get older to help support their aging joints when lying down and getting up,” says Dr. Werber. Your dog’s nutritional needs change as they age, too. Find out what vets feed their own dogs.
Following their instincts
Breeds like the Dachshund are genetically geared to burrow because they were originally bred to flush out tunneling critters like rabbits and foxes. If your dog likes to burrow and sleep under the blankets, a hooded dog bed might be a good choice to mimic her instinctual sleeping habitat. Hooded beds might also be a cozy and warm place to settle in for breeds like terriers or Chihuahua’s who are a bit more sensitive to cold and favor cozy, warm places. You can even find extra small size dog beds for these adorable tiny dog breeds.
Maybe your dog is fed up with your active sleep patterns and tired of getting pushed out of bed, or she’s got an independent streak. “Some dogs may prefer to have their own space that’s safely elevated and removed from the action,” says Lilian Wong, MS, DVM, Banfield Pet Hospital. You may never know why your dog chooses to sleep away from the hub of the home, but here are 30 things your dog definitely wants you to know about their wellbeing.
Dogs that mix it up
So you’ve observed your furbaby while he sleeps and discovers he doesn’t have a regular dog sleeping position. Sometimes he’s all cute and snuggly in a ball and other times he looks like a contortionist, all sprawled out on his back with his paws and body defying logic. A dog bed that folds out is on the nose for the night’s he wants to spread out, and on the night’s he wants to cozy it up, the bed transforms into a compact sofa cushion. If your dog has a feline friend, find out this important fact: can cats eat dog food?
Dogs with arthritis
A cozy and comfy bed is a must for any dog, no matter what dog sleeping position they choose. But when your pooch has arthritis it’s crucial to provide comfort for achy joints while they nap or sleep. Dr. Wong suggests an orthopedic mat or a memory foam bed. “Some dogs prefer a low-to-the-ground option that doesn’t require stepping up or over into a bed, so it may take some trial-and-error to find the best solution for your pet. Given some arthritic pets may have a hard time going up and down stairs, accessibility to a comfortable dog bed on each floor of your home is ideal.” Essential oils may help your pet during the day and sleep comfortably at night—here’s what you should know before trying them.
The dog days of summer are no picnic for dogs if they have a coat that is long, thick, or dark. It’s not always possible to find a cool spot in the shade, especially if your dog wants to be close to you. Elevated cooling cots are ideal for poolside, hanging out in the backyard, or when you take your dog camping with the family. And if you don’t have air conditioning in your home, your dog will really appreciate a cool place to catch some zzz’s. Whatever outdoor bed you choose, you should familiarize yourself with the signs of heatstroke in dogs to make sure you’re keeping your pup healthy and safe.
For siblings who spoon
Pet beds can take up a lot of space when you have a couple of dogs or a combo of cats and dogs. Wouldn’t it be nice if your furbabies could share a large bed—plus it would be undeniably cute to see them spoon! “In houses with multiple pets, see how they interact with one another,” suggests Dr. Wong. If your pets are constantly by each other’s sides, they may prefer to sleep next to each other.” When your furbaby family gets along, a large bed designed for multiple pets is a wise investment, but, caution: if you have these pet combos, the fur will fly!
Watch for these signs
“Pay attention to is how your dog is getting up from their bed, especially as they age,” says Dr. Werber. Do you notice your pup getting up slower? Do they show signs of discomfort when they get up from a nap or overnight sleep? Do they linger more in the bed before getting up in the morning? “These all can be signs of an underlying problem. We can tell a lot more from how a dog gets up from their sleeping position than how they are actually positioned to sleep.”
Just like people, it’s perfectly normal for dogs to talk and move in their sleep. We “ooh” and “aah” over the cute muffled barks of “puppy dreams” and giggle when we watch them “run in their sleep.” But Dr. Wong says to keep an eye out for changes in motions or disturbances in the times that pets are normally asleep (or awake) because they could be a sign that something is amiss, whether sleep related or otherwise. “Moaning or groaning could also be a sign of pain or discomfort. If you notice changes in your pet’s vocalization, it could be a sign of underlying health issues,” says Dr. Wong. You should also keep an eye out for these silent signs your “healthy” dog is sick.
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