Understanding Canine Sleep Apnea

Dogs are mammals, and this means they can have a lot of the same types of ailments that humans have. Viral infections, heart disease, kidney failure, and cancer are just a few of the medical issues that can affect your pup. This is why you should schedule a veterinary visit at least once or twice a year so your dog can be thoroughly examined for health issues. Visits also need to be arranged if you note any direct signs of an illness. Unfortunately, some problems may not be apparent since symptoms are more subtle. This is true if your pup has a sleep apnea condition. 

How Much Should Your Dog Sleep?

Before you can figure out whether or not your dog has a sleep condition, you will need to understand the normal sleep habits of your dog. A typical dog will sleep 12 to 14 hours a day or approximately 50% of the time. Puppies often sleep more and may snooze up to 18 hours a day. This type of excessive sleep is common for large breeds of dogs like Mastiffs, Newfoundlands, Great Danes, St. Bernards, Pyrenees, and Wolfhounds too. These dogs have slower metabolisms and this can make them lazier than small or medium breeds of dogs. 

Older dogs will often sleep more and you may see your pup snoozing more often if you do not supply a good quality food. This means your dog is not getting the nutrition he needs to meet his energy requirements. Make sure to purchase a food that has an animal based protein, is low in fat, and contains few starches. Since dogs are omnivores like humans, the food should contain vegetables, fruits, and a few whole grains as well. Caloric needs vary greatly from dog to dog, so ask your vet about this. Provide only enough food to meet these needs in a given day to reduce overeating. This can lead to health problems, laziness, and excessive sleeping.

What Are The Symptoms Of Sleep Apnea?

If your dog seems to sleep too much even though you feed him a decent amount of food and understand canine sleep requirements, then look for signs that sleep apnea may be an issue. This issue is similar to the condition that affects humans. Basically, your dog will stop breathing while he is trying to sleep and this will wake him up. When this happens multiple times, your dog will be unable to get the restful REM sleep he needs.

You are likely to notice your dog snoring loudly, gasping for breath, or choking when he is trying to sleep. You may notice long pauses between breaths as well. A typical dog will take 15 to 30 breaths a minute while resting or sleeping. You can simply count the breaths for one minute while your dog sleeps to see if they are lower than normal. Your dog is likely to seem sleepy throughout the day and might be less coordinated if a sleep apnea issue is present. 

What Will A Veterinarian Do?

If your dog presents with some of these sleep apnea symptoms, take him to see your vet immediately. The professional may keep your dog overnight so an evaluation can be completed. An examination of the airways may be completed as well to look for obstructions. Surgery may be scheduled to open up the airways. This is especially likely if you have a breed of dog that is commonly afflicted with breathing issues. Bulldogs and pugs are two examples of breeds with these problems. You may also be asked to place a humidifier or steamer in your home. Moist air is helpful in opening the airways so your dog will be able to sleep better. 

For more information, take your dog to a specialist, such as those at the Seattle Emergency Veterinary Hospital.