Do Dogs Sleep More In Winter

Short answer: yes.

A dog can sleep more during the winter.

If you live somewhere with long, dark, cold winters, you have probably noticed a change in your dog's behaviors during winter.

A combination of cold weather and low light conditions can prompt your dog to sleep more often.

But why do dogs sleep more in winter, and is that an issue?

Southwestern states, for example, may have less of a problem with areas that don't really have a distinct winter.

In fact, people who live in warmer areas may notice that their dog is more alert in the winter and sleeps more in the warmer months.

But the question remains, why do dogs sleep more in winter?

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Do Dogs Sleep More In Winter And Why?

Why do dogs sleep more in winter time

Blame the Hormones

There are a few reasons for your dog's increased sleep during the winter. The first is the increased production of melatonin

Like humans, dogs produce melatonin. This hormone in your dog's brain helps regulate his sleep cycles. 

It is produced through the pineal gland. The pineal gland is light sensitive, so as a result, melatonin is usually secreted at night, in the dark.

In fact, melatonin production is inhibited when light hits the retina. So from that, we can conclude that in the winter, when there is less light and sunshine, more melatonin is produced in the dog's body. 

Melatonin has several different effects, but the most prominent is it will cause sleepiness. 

Therefore, when dogs produce more melatonin due to dark winter conditions, they will sleep more.

Another factor as to why dogs sleep more in winter is the production of serotonin

Serotonin is a neurotransmitter that works to regulate a dog's mood. 

Reduced sunlight can release less serotonin in your dog's brain. 

A serotonin deficit can cause your dog to feel tired, cranky, and lethargic. 

Serotonin is synthesized by the pineal gland to produce melatonin. 

As a result, your dog may be sleeping more due to low serotonin levels.

How to Keep Your Dog Awake

How to Keep Your Dog Awake

If you are worried about why dogs sleep more in winter and your canine seems to be napping too much, you can help combat it. 

Low light levels seem to be the leading cause of increased sleepiness in dogs during winter. An effective solution would be to boost light exposure.

One step would be to place your dog's bed close to a window or glass door to expose them to the little bit of available light. 

Also, try to walk your dog during the brightest times to maximize daylight exposure. 

Interior lighting can also help, but the closer to natural light, the better.

Compact fluorescent bulbs have white light sources that mimic daylight, which could be used to simulate light in your home.

If you purchase these, make sure that they are either full spectrum or daylight bulbs. 

Turn on these lights for at least an hour daily and interact with your dog so that your pet's eyes are open, exposing their retinas to the light.

Potential Medical Issues

But these common reasons why dogs sleep more in winter aren't the only ones, and there also may be a medical issue. Like humans, dogs can suffer from apathy, boredom, and depression

This can be increased during the winter because of the low light levels. 

If your dog is depressed, he will likely be less active, less alert, and sleep more.

You may start noticing less excitement when you walk in, grab the leash, and do other things that generally get your dog up and going. 

Depression in dogs is caused by increased melatonin and decreased serotonin, so it is more likely to happen during the winter.

Dog depression

Combating this would involve taking the same steps mentioned above but more extreme measures. To fight your dog's depression, you must be insistent on walks, play, and more. 

Expose your dog to as much sunlight as possible, as it will increase serotonin levels. This should work to combat depression.

Also, engage his brain and mentally stimulate your dog to keep his brain active and fight off boredom and lethargy.

Do Dogs Sleep Sleep More In Winter: Closing Thoughts

So do dogs sleep more in winter? 

Yes. And is it normal for them? 


If your dog is medically sound, then there's nothing wrong with them having to sleep more. 

Aside from the change in their brain hormones, they might just be cold and want to cuddle up more. 

It isn't exactly a cause for concern, and there are ways we can help them become more awake during the winter.

The absolute most crucial step is light exposure and mental stimulation. 

During the daytime, keep your home as bright as possible. 

Open window shades and fluorescent light bulbs are two simple ways to stimulate natural light in your home, play with your dog, and engage him. 

Your dog must receive adequate exercise and proper nutrition, especially during the winter, as it prevents boredom, which becomes sleepiness.

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Dom Naish is a Phoenix-based writer, vegan, cupcake addict and dog lover. Years in the animal rescue trenches have taught him every aspect of dog ownership from behavioral problems, personality and breed specific trait differences of all dogs.