Do Dogs and Cats Sleep More in the Winter?

Our beloved pets bring us joy and sometimes worries. As we constantly watch over them, any new behavior can cause concern. For instance, we may wonder if dogs and cats sleep more in the winter or if they experience seasonal depression like humans. To ease your worries, we consulted with veterinarians to understand the winter sleep habits of our furry friends.

So, how much sleep do dogs and cats actually need? According to Dr. Jeff Werber, an Emmy award-winning veterinarian and consultant for Fi, adult dogs generally sleep for eight to 14 hours a day, compared to the seven to nine hours humans need. Puppies and senior dogs require even more sleep, spending 18 to 20 hours a day catching Z's.

Cat sleep patterns differ slightly. Werber explains that felines spend around 70 percent of their lives asleep, often in the form of cat naps. In concrete terms, this translates to cats sleeping for 18 hours per day on average, which accounts for over 40 percent of their time.

While dogs tend to sleep for longer stretches, cats take multiple shorter naps throughout the day. These cat naps last for about an hour and a quarter but can range anywhere from 15 to 100 minutes. Unlike humans, dogs and cats do not strictly follow a circadian rhythm of sleeping at night and staying awake during the day. Dogs tend to match our sleep patterns, while cats are crepuscular, meaning they are most active in the early morning and evening.

During the winter, both dogs and cats are likely to sleep a little more. Similar to humans, the decrease in activity is often due to the cold weather. Dr. Werber explains that our furry friends will seek warmth, cuddling up with a cozy blanket or finding a warm spot to sleep. Even dogs with thick coats, like huskies or malamutes, may sleep more as they still feel the cold, particularly in their feet.

Felines, in addition to seeking warmth, historically conserve their energy during the cold season since there tends to be less hunting opportunities.

Just like humans, dogs and cats can experience seasonal depression or cabin fever. Being cooped up inside more often during the winter can make them feel restless. In the summer, they have the freedom to explore the outdoors or engage in indoor playtime comfortably. However, it's important to note that routine transformations, rather than the time of year itself, should be the focus. Pets naturally have periods of lower energy where they rest, but if they become consistently unmotivated to move, it may indicate an underlying issue.

Changes in sleep patterns can be a sign of various health conditions. For instance, arthritis can cause dogs to sleep more due to pain, while hypothyroidism can lead to increased sleep in cats. If you notice any drastic changes in your pet's sleep patterns, it is advisable to consult a veterinarian.

To ensure your pet isn't sleeping too much, consider their normal activity levels and the context of the situation. If they are taking certain medications or recovering from an illness, increased sleep may be expected. Lack of stimulation can also contribute to restless sleep, so make sure to engage your pets with playtime indoors during the colder months. Additionally, exposure to sunlight and vitamin D can be beneficial. If you're concerned about your pet's sleep habits, observe whether they are easily awakened and continue to eat their food as usual.

Remember, as a pet parent, you know your furry friend best. Trust your instincts and seek professional advice if you suspect something may be wrong. In the meantime, let your pet enjoy their winter slumber, and perhaps you can even join in for a long winter's nap yourself.

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