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Why Do Dogs Sleep More In Winter? Top Five Ways to Keep Your Dog Active!

by Lana Paws on January 05, 2022

Tips to keep your dogs active during winters Lana Paws Blog

Winters can be lazy for you, as well as for your fur buddy. As the mercury drops, you may often see your dog cuddled up on the couch. We know it's a common sight for every pet parent during winters. 

Yes, house animals, including dogs, tend to skip all their jumps and thrills in winter and doze off silently. But have you ever wondered why dogs sleep more in winter? Well, there are some surefire answers to this!

Check out this article to know why your dog feels more sleepy in winter. Also, get the top 5 tricks to keep your dog warm and active as the season of cold approaches.

Why Do Dogs Sleep More In Winter?

how to keep your dog active in winters Lana Paws blog

Starting from hormonal changes in the body to an increased amount of calorie intake, anything can be the reason to make your pup feel more sleepy. Go through the below section to learn about all the reasons and identify the exact one behind your dog’s inactivity in winter. 

Blame The Sharper Senses

Before discussing anything, let's imagine a cold, snowy evening for yourself. In the most feasible case, you may want a heavy blanket, burning fire/heater, a good book, a warm bed, and a piping hot chocolate cup to keep yourself warm. 

Of course, your dog also wants to curl up and sleep through the day. Yes, you may already know dogs’ senses are ten times more effective than humans. So, they need the same or more level of warmth when it gets chilly outside. 

Moreover, if your pup doesn't participate in any activity throughout the day, it's obvious for her to feel lethargic. In that case, make sure she’s engaged in physical or mental activities such as sniffing exercises and mental stimulation puzzles as part of the daily routine to stay active throughout the day. [We’ve shared more details in this article.]

Increased Melatonin

Melatonin is produced as your eyes get introduced to darkness. This is why humans feel sleepy at night. The same hormone is produced in dogs as well. Melatonin is secreted through the pineal gland and helps to regulate sleep cycles. 

In winters, normally, when there are less light and darker conditions, the pineal gland produces more melatonin. Thus, dogs find themselves more relaxed and sleepy during these dull, cold days.

Less Serotonin

Serotonin is a neurotransmitter that is also produced by the pineal gland. Serotonin plays an important role in both human and dog brains. It helps to regulate the heart and lung functions in dogs. Most importantly, the hormone regulates the mood of your dog. It impacts body temperature, movement and appetite in dogs.

In winter, because of the dull situation, the secretion of serotonin becomes less. As a result, your fur buddy does not feel like moving all day long.

However, making your canine friend follow a strict sleep routine and diet plan can help you reduce the effects of melatonin and serotonin. 

Certain Medical Conditions

The above reasons for sleepiness in dogs are not something to worry about. But what if there is another reason for your dog's excessive sleepiness? Yes, sometimes, sleep is an indication of an impending medical problem. In winters, when you and your pet stay locked up in the house, it may cause depression in your dog. Dogs are active animals, and lack of activity can cause them to feel low, bored or depressed in extreme cases.

If you notice that your dog isn't taking any interest in playing, doesn't want to go for a walk, or wants to lounge in her bed all the time, that is your alarm. Plus, if your dog has arthritis, you need to pay closer attention to her well-being during this time. The pain of arthritis increases manifold during the winter months, and dogs tend to suffer even more. Take them to the vet and get a thorough checkup done so the pain can be managed better during this time.


If you feel your dog is often bored and low on energy,  make sure to  give them more attention and time. Play more, walk more, and do things your dog loved to do earlier. 

Are Dogs Lethargic In Winters?

Yes, if the sun has not been up for days and the winters are harsh, dogs may feel lethargic . The lack of sunshine and a relaxed environment takes its toll on dogs as much as it does on you. Thus, you may find your dog spending extra time in her bed or trying to snuggle with you for a warm and cozy sleep. 

It's the hormones behind this behavior. The reasons stated above cause it, and your dog seems lethargic. In most cases, there is nothing to worry about, except when your dog's behavior doesn't change even on a bright, sunny day. Visit your vet if your pet continues to be lethargic for a long time, and nothing excites them enough to return to their usual energy levels.

How To Keep Your Dog Safe In Winter?

how to keep your dog active in winters Lana Paws blog

There are ways to keep your pup happy and active throughout the winter season. Hence, if your dog tends to sleep more in winter, you must try the following.

Keep Them Warm

Not every dog breed is the same, and not all of them are fit for winters. For example, if you have a Siberian Husky, Saint Bernard, or a German Shepherd, there are chances that they won't be affected much due to cold weather, as their fur is made for such harshness. But there are other breeds with thinner coats, such as chihuahua, dalmatian, Great Dane, who have a much thinner coat. 

Cold days can be harsh for these breeds. Don't leave your pet out in the open. At least, not in winters. Make them a comfortable bed indoors. When your dog comes back from a walk, dry them with a towel or give them a blow-dry if they get wet. Make them wear a sweater (if they’re comfortable wearing clothes; not all dogs like wearing clothes and we must never force them), and put on some extra blankets. 

No Outdoors For Arthritic Dogs

If your dog has arthritis, the condition may worsen in the winter. Their joints ache, and exposure to snow or extreme cold can make them suffer even more. Reduce their walk-time and try to get them more exercise indoors - indoor mental exercises are a great way to get your dog happy and tired, especially during this season. Also, get them a heavy sweater and dog boots to help them cope.

Food: More Or Less?

In winters, the body requires more energy to keep itself warm. It means more food. Ensure that your dog gets its regular food, supplements, and essential nutrients. Also, this is the time when your dog may put on more weight as they eat and sleep more. 

Ensure that your furry friend gets nutritious warm food (no frozen food in winters). Or, you may like to learn more about what to feed your dog in winter. 

Sunbathe

how to keep your dog active in winters Lana Paws blog

If you are receiving sunlight, make sure your dog takes advantage of it too. Make them a comfortable space outdoors, so they enjoy some sun during the day. More sunlight means better sleep, less production of melatonin, and less lethargy.

Remove Antifreeze 

If you have used antifreeze or rock salt in your driveway or your neighbor's have used it, remove it before going out for a walk with your pup. Dogs can smell everything, and they will also smell and lick this poisonous antifreeze. It can be very hazardous for their health. When you get back, use dog wipes to remove any remnants of these substances which can get between their toes.  

What Can I Do To Keep My Dog Active In Winter?

All of us like spending some extra time in bed during winters and that’s totally normal for your dog too. However, as responsible pet parents, you must ensure your dog also gets enough physical and mental activity to keep them happy and healthy through this season. You may try these with your dog:

how to keep your dog active in winters Lana Paws blog

Play Fetch

You are probably thinking, 'Fetching and that too indoors?' Yes, it is very much possible! For example, your backyard or the hallway might have some extra space where you can pursue this activity. 

Simply throw your dog's favorite toy in the hall or another room and ask it to fetch it. They love the game already; It will be a great physical exercise to try indoors.

Find A Playdate

If you are busy with work, find another dog to play with them. You can call a friend and ask them to come over with their pet. Or, you may contact some pet parents in your neighborhood and set some plans.

While you can enjoy some hot drinks, your dogs can also have some fun. They chase and play in different ways, which doesn't require your time. Plus, your dogs also feel happy and rejuvenated after meeting a friend.

Make sure you are setting playdates with dogs they are already friends with. If you’re introducing your dog to a new dog, take it slow and do not push them into playing right away.

Teach Them New Tricks

Teach your dog some new tricks when you are both locked up due to the chilling weather outside. Jump, roll over, lie down, sit, etc., are some simple commands your dog could learn from you. It will be fun for both of you and helps strengthen the bond if done correctly (always use positive reinforcement to teach your dog!)

Mental Stimulation, Sniffing & Chewing

how to keep your dog active in winters Lana Paws blog

Play simple mental stimulation games and puzzles with your dog. It’s a great way to tire them out indoors. It may include sniffing games like treat treasure hunt in packing boxes, or treats hidden around the house and so on. You can find a number of options online that are fun and easy to play. You can increase the difficulty level slowly and steadily to keep them engaged and interested.

Chewing also helps relax your dog’s mind. Get them a high-quality bone or chew toy but strictly avoid chemical laden chews such as, rawhides. 

Treadmill

Some Dogs like treadmills. In fact, some of them absolutely love it. The reason is simple: your pup likes to do a lot of things that it sees you doing. Thus, if you have a treadmill set up in your home and your dog has watched you work out, it probably won't mind trying that out. 

Start with low speed and reward them with treats as it participates more. Increase the speed gradually as your pet becomes acquainted with the machine. This is an exercise that they should be taught from childhood. Never leave your pet alone with the machine. They may know how to run on it but have no idea how to stop it if anything goes wrong.  

Final Thoughts

That’s all! Now you know all about why dogs sleep more in winter and how to keep them active. Follow all the things mentioned here, and take good care of your dog in winter. For further queries, check our FAQs section. And, if you want to tell us about your dog’s behavior in winter, use the comment box below. Thanks for reading!

FAQs

Do Dogs Eat Less In Winter?

No, the answer is the opposite. Dogs eat more in winter. The body requires more energy to keep itself warm. It can cause weight gain, so you must feed them food with ample proteins, fiber, minerals, vitamins, and less fat.  

How Does Cold Weather Affect Dogs?

It affects dogs in several ways, as listed below-

  • It makes them sleepy and less active.
  • It makes them reluctant to get out of bed.
  • If dogs are not kept dry, they can catch a cold and fever from snow exposure.
  • Their appetite increases.
  • They come in contact with antifreeze which can be bad for them, etc.

Does Snow Make Dogs Tired?

Dogs don't feel tired from snow. Instead, they feel excited and enthusiastic, having a chance to play in the fluffy white snow. They run into it, dig it, and act as if they are swimming. Dogs just love snow. If your dog is excited to go outside, it's a good way to get them some exercise.

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