There’s nothing quite like a good night’s sleep for waking refreshed and ready to face the world. Indeed, restful sleep is a good sign that all’s well both mentally and physically. And the interesting thing is, this applies as much to our fur-friends as it does to us.
The quality and character of your pet’s sleep can give vital clues about their health. But of course, the night is also when you’re asleep, which means turning a deaf ear to the quiet messages a resting dog sends out.
Let’s take a look at the significance of how your dog sleeps, what this says about their health, and an easy way to tap into this information (without sacrificing your shut-eye).
The Importance of Resting Heart and Respiratory Rate
Do you like visiting the dentist? Or, like most people, do you experience a dry mouth and racing heart. The latter are both signs of anxiety, which also happen when our pets visit the vet.
Known as ‘white coat syndrome’ (even though vets rarely wear them now) these phenomena makes it difficult for the veterinarian to get an accurate picture of your dog’s normal heart rate and breathing pattern.
Why does this matter?
Let’s take the example of the heart. A fit healthy heart has specific characteristics, for example, it beats at a certain rate because this is the most efficient way of circulating blood around the body. It also beats with a set rhythm, which again is a sign all is well.
The heart is a clever organ because if it encounters increased demand, such as the muscles need more oxygen because of exercise, it beats more quickly to match this need. Similarly, if each heartbeat is less efficient (say, because of a leaky heart valve) the heart compensates by increasing the number of beats per minute.
In other words, the heart is there to serve and will change how it beats in order to keep the circulation steady. Which is why getting a true impression of the heart rate when the pet is resting is so important. When asleep, the body is literally in a resting state and places a low demand on the heart. Thus, a racing heart is an important indicator that something isn’t right.
This is especially important for pets diagnosed with heart disease. Recognizing a change in resting heart rate is a valuable early warning sign that a treatment review is needed. Many owners rely on their vet taking the dog’s pulse during a check-up consultation, but white coat syndrome can make this tricky – at best!
The ideal time to monitor the dog’s heart is when he’s asleep, which is where a PetPace collar comes into its own. Used in many veterinary clinics and hospitals, but also available to use at home, this collar monitors the dog’s vital signs such as heart rate, breaths per minute, body temperature, and activity level.
This allows you to check for trends at home and call the vet if you spot a change. Likewise, if this responsibility is outside your comfort zone, then why not share the data with your vet for the ultimate in fine-tuning your pet’s meds?
The Meaning of Restlessness
If your dog sleeps in the kitchen at night, then you may not know whether he sleeps soundly or is restless. The latter may happen if your dog is in pain or discomfort.
In the dead of night, with the house quiet and the lights out, there’s little distraction from pain, discomfort or itchiness. Importantly, restlessness can be a sign of nagging discomfort or even pain which disrupts his sleep.
Again, this is another great use of the PetPace collar. It records the dog’s position over the course of the night and tells you how much time he spent lying down or moving around. An unhealthy balance towards restlessness is a not-to-be-missed clue that your dog could be in pain and should see the vet for a checkup.
The good news is that some conditions, such as a toothache can be cured and so the dog doesn’t have to tolerate the distress. Whilst for long terms problems such are arthritis there is a range of safe and effective medications, and physiotherapies, which ease pain…so long as you have identified there is a problem.
Reversed Sleeping Patterns
Some dogs, especially older ones, can get day and night confused, so they become active at night but sleep all day. This may be a simple matter of resetting the body clock by keeping the dog occupied during the day…but how do you recognize there’s a problem unless you’re present to see it? If you’re out at work and the dog sleeps at home, you could be blissfully unaware of an issue.
A significant problem of senior dogs is cognitive dysfunction, the doggie equivalent of dementia. The classic signs are mental confusion, loss of training, and disrupted sleep patterns. A PetPace collar allows you to track the dog’s sleep and waking times to look for these patterns. This coupled with subtle signs such as confusion over which is the opening side of the door and barking when left alone, can point towards a diagnosis of cognitive dysfunction.
Whilst there is no ‘cure’ for doggie dementia, there are diets and supplements which protect nerve function and a medication to improve the brain’s oxygen supply, which helps it function.
Again, awareness is half the battle since you can then make adjustments to how you interact with the dog, keep him in routine, and offer more frequent toilet breaks, which can make a big difference to everybody’s quality of life.
The Benefits of Health Monitoring
Recognizing early changes in your pet’s health is crucial to keeping them well for longer. When a health problem is treated quickly, it swerves complications and slows down deterioration. Simply by wearing a discrete device on his collar, your dog can tell you things about his health that might otherwise be missed. With a PetPace collar, this can’t happen!