Is your senior dog falling asleep standing up?

Photo by Anthony Maina on Unsplash

If we’re being honest, dogs tend to fall asleep in strange positions, but what does it mean when your senior dog falls asleep standing up? If your old friend has been falling asleep whilst standing up then I can imagine you’re feeling all sorts of confusing emotions, especially if you’ve never seen them do this before. You’ll be relieved to know a lot of dogs do this, but I bet by now you’re asking yourself, why is my dog falling asleep standing up, and is it something I should be worried about?

A senior dog that sleeps whilst standing up can do this because of various reasons such as, your dog’s history, changes in sleeping arrangements, or an underlying medical condition. When considering all possible causes, try to stay calm and remember there’s always something you can do to help your old dog feel better.

What’s your dog’s history?

Does your four-legged friend have a history that could explain why they’re showing this sort of behaviour?

If so, is it possible your friend was abused in a recent home? Dogs who have previously been abused can still exhibit behaviours they were made to do previously. If your dog was forced to stand up and sleep, then they will still show this behaviour at their new home as they were conditioned to do this.

When considering what you can do to help your four-legged friend sleep better, you should try to understand the cause of their behaviours a little more. To do this you may want to speak to a dog behaviourist and work on ways to help your dog get a better night’s sleep.

Have you changed anything in your house?

Dogs are very in tune with their emotions and if something upsets them, they can display unusual types of behaviour such as sleeping whilst standing up. Have you changed anything in your home that your dog could be unhappy with?

If you’ve changed your dog’s sleeping arrangements then this might be the cause for their strange behaviour. Is it possible your four-legged friend is trying to tell you they don’t like their new sleeping arrangements? If so, simply try putting their bed back into the place they most enjoyed it.

Should you take your old dog to the vet?

Your senior dog is falling asleep standing up, and you’ve never seen them do this before. So, by no surprise you’re probably asking yourself if this should warrant a trip to the vet.

Like I said previously, there are many reasons why your dog may be showing this type of behaviour. When determining what the cause could be, you should take note of any significant changes in your dog’s sleeping habits. Ask yourself if your senior dog has been sleeping more than usual or not sleeping at all? You may also want to record your dog’s behaviours. By recording your dog’s behaviours, you can give your veterinarian a visual representation of what your dog is doing and in turn, this may help them to diagnose your senior dog’s condition faster.

So, should you go to the vet?

If you believe your dogs in some sort of pain, contact your vet and get an appointment to rule out any underlying medical issues. 

Some possible medical causes for your dog showing this sort of behaviour are: hypothyroidism, dementia, arthritis and hip dysplasia.

Could your dog have arthritis?

When a dog ages, they age like us. And as we know the ageing process can be tough, which makes it more important for you to look out for any changes your old dog is showing. Your friend may be trying to tell you they don’t feel all too good, and the simple task of lying down may suddenly be too difficult for them to do. If your dog is suddenly struggling to lie down, this could be an indication they have arthritis.

Dogs who have arthritis, may sleep whilst standing up because lying down hurts their joints too much. Other symptoms as well as falling asleep standing up are: Limping or limpness, wary of you touching them, tiredness, irritability and groaning.

If you believe your dog could have arthritis then you should contact your vet and set up a plan that can help aid your dog. There are also steps you could take to help your dog feel better whilst they’re at home.

Try taking your old dog on regular short walks each day. Increasing your senior dog’s exercise routine could help to reduce stiffness in their joints. You may also want to consider your dog’s sleeping arrangements, giving them a choice in bedding can help keep their joints happy.

For further information on what you can do to help your dog when they’re at home visit: https://www.pdsa.org.uk/taking-care-of-your-pet/pet-health-hub/conditions/arthritis-in-dogs

Could your dog have Hypothyroidism?

Now, is it possible your dog could have hypothyroidism?

Hypothyroidism is common in senior dog’s, this condition can cause your dog to feel excessively sluggish. If your old dog is overweight, this could be another sign their thyroid isn’t working properly. 

If you suspect your dog has hypothyroidism, you should take them to the vet to get tested. It’s important you do this as hypothyroidism in dogs can be dangerous if left untreated.

Signs of dementia in your dog.

When dogs have dementia, they can show a severe decline in their cognitive abilities. Signs of cognitive decline in your dog alongside changes in their sleeping habits are: changes in behaviour towards family members, disorientation, and accidents.

Have you noticed any of these symptoms in your old dog?

If your friend has been experiencing any of these changes, then you should take notes and contact a veterinarian as soon as possible.

Could your dog have hip dysplasia?

Hip dysplasia is another unfortunate sign your dog is ageing and is mostly common in larger breeds of dogs.

Symptoms of hip dysplasia include: Decreased range of motion, looseness in the joint, grating in the joint during movement and a narrow stance. If you think your dog could have hip dysplasia, then you should contact your vet and get your dog treated, to help them get a better night’s sleep.

What can you do to help your senior dog?

If your dog is overweight and you suspect they have hip dysplasia, help them to lose weight. Weight reduction can help remove any extra stress on their hip joints, also try to restrict their exercise as it can put extra strain on your old dog’s joints. If you want more advice then you can visit: https://www.akc.org/expert-advice/health/hip-dyspacia-in-dogs/

Senior dogs ageing.

As our dog’s age, a lot can change. Changes in your dog’s sleeping patterns are one of the most common signs of ageing. When a dog begins to age, we should try to understand the changes their bodies are going through and what it is we should expect.

You clicked on this article to better understand why your senior dog is sleeping whilst standing up, but I’m sure you’re also asking yourself other questions about your dog’s sleeping habits.

Why does my old dog sleep so deeply?

Dogs can enter the stage of their sleep cycle called “REM”, just like us. If your dog is sleeping deeper than usual this may be a sign that they’re extremely exhausted, and you should keep a close eye on them. You should also pay extra attention to their sleeping habits to help you to determine if your dog’s behaviour requires a visit to the vet.

How much does a senior dog sleep?

It probably won’t surprise you when I say this, but dogs sleep a lot even when they’re puppies. So, what amount of sleep is normal for a senior dog? As you can imagine, senior dogs become more tired as they go through the ageing process. Your old dog may sleep from around 14 to 20 hours per day. If you think your dog’s sleeping habits are abnormal, then you should contact your vet and get some advice.

The most important thing to take away from this article is that your dog’s unusual behaviours can often be a good indication of their mood. It’s not nice when you see your dog acting strangely, but it can help us to understand them just that little bit more.

Closing Thoughts

At the beginning of this article, I stated that a lot of dog’s sleep whilst standing up. But I want to stress to you that you shouldn’t assume this is the case for your dog. All dogs are different, if you believe something isn’t quite right with your senior dog then you should take them to the vet or ask for some advice. Making sure your senior dog grows old happily comes with a lot of work. To keep your dog happy, you should try to understand them better and work on changing things around your house to make their pain more manageable.