When it comes to puppies, whether you are a seasoned pet owner or a new pet parent, it is natural to want to ensure your puppy is getting everything it needs. So, if your puppy has been sleeping for a while, should you wake it up to eat?
While food is a crucial part of puppyhood, so is sleep. Puppies spend the majority of their first few months of life sleeping, and when in doubt, it is best to leave them to their rest.
Read on to learn more about puppy sleep and eating cycles and how to determine when it is best to wake them up or let them get their beauty rest.
Why You Should Not Wake Your Puppy Up to Eat?
The average puppy sleeps about 18 hours out of the day.
This may seem like an alarmingly large amount of sleep for one tiny animal, and it may prompt you to want to wake them up for their meals.
However, sleep aids your puppy’s development, and disturbing its rest might do more harm than good.
Here are a few essential reasons why you should not wake your puppy up to eat
Sleep lowers the risk of naughty behavior.
When awake, puppies are little balls of energy, and it is easy for them to become overly stimulated.
When a puppy is too wound up, it may lead to unwarranted behavior that will become a habit down the line.
Signs your puppy is overstimulated:
- Excessive panting (nervousness)
- Barking at things it would not normally react to
- Random spurts of running around (the “zooms”)
Just like kids, puppies have a hard time determining when it is time to rest, resulting in overtiredness.
To prevent the “episodes” listed above, make sure your puppy has time to wind down after playtime activities. Give the puppy water and put it in its crate for “quiet time.”
Sleep is essential for your puppy’s development.
By six months, puppies are more than halfway to their adult size and weight, meaning they are growing rapidly in a short amount of time.
This fast-paced growth has a significant impact on their bodies, and they need as much sleep as they can get to ensure they are growing normally.
From running around the yard to tripping over their feet to jumping off couches or beds, puppies are rough on their growing bones.
So, proper amounts of sleep will additionally help your puppy’s bones and joints recover from daily mischief, ensuring proper growth.
Immune system development
Sleep is also fantastic for your puppy’s immune system.
A lack of sleep decreases antibodies vital for fighting infections, making puppies more vulnerable to fatal illnesses like canine parvovirus and canine distemper.
Maintaining immunity is critical for puppies and their overall health, especially if they have not yet completed all rounds of vaccines.
Furthermore, sleep supports brain development. Just like its body, a puppy’s brain is also swiftly developing.
Sleep encourages healthy fat and blood vessel development in the brain, which is fundamental for cognitive functions and boosting good social behavior.
Sleep also gives the brain a chance to rest, which will increase your puppy’s attentiveness to training and other activities when it’s awake.
Sleep stimulates healthy body weight.
It is often said that healthy eating and a good night’s rest help with weight management, and the same goes for your puppy.
It is already difficult to get puppies to stop eating everything, and a lack of sleep will only increase their hungry appetites because their bodies are producing more insulin.
The higher the insulin level, the more fat is collected.
Obese dogs are more inclined to have hip and joint issues as they get older, as well as an elevated risk of cancers and heart issues.
So, adequate sleep plays a significant role in keeping a puppy’s weight at the right number.
When Should You Wake Your Puppy to Eat?
There are, however, a few rare exceptions when you need to wake your puppy up to eat.
Most puppies are instinctually inclined to latch on and nurse from their mom shortly after they are born.
But sometimes, a puppy will not latch on its own, or in infrequent cases, the mom rejects her pups and will not allow them to nurse from her.
Puppies who do not nurse shortly after birth are at risk of fading puppy syndrome or starvation. This is when human interaction is needed, and it often requires around-the-clock care.
If your puppy requires bottle feeding, it will need to eat every 2-3 hours, depending on its breed and age. The first week of a puppy’s life is its most critical state.
The older it gets, the number of times you need to bottle-feed lessens.
But due to their fast metabolisms, it is essential to keep track of a newborn puppy’s weight to ensure it is getting enough nutrients.
Weaned puppies less than eight weeks old
Puppies between four to six weeks of age are usually weaning off of mom or the bottle and beginning the transition to puppy food.
However, they should still eat frequently to ensure an adequate intake of nutrients. This is usually every 3-4 hours, so it might require a few naptime disturbances.
How You Can Avoid Waking Your Puppy Up to Eat?
Puppies normally need to eat multiple times a day, which can make it hard between their sleeping time and daily life (work, school, etc.).
Here are a few ways you can plan your and your puppy’s day so you do not have to wake it up to eat
Know how much food your puppy needs in a day
First, decide how much food your puppy needs in a day. This will depend on the age and breed of the puppy. Below is a general guide to follow according to a puppy’s breed and age:
- Small breeds: 6 to 12 weeks need between ½ and 1 ½ cups a day, going to 1 to 2 cups by six months old.
- Medium breeds: 6 to 12 weeks need between ½ and 2 cups a day, going to 1 ½ to 2 ½ cups by six months old.
- Large and extra-large breeds: 6 to 12 weeks need ½ to 3 cups a day, going to 2 to 4 cups by six months old.
Create a schedule
Creating a feeding schedule will benefit both you and your puppy. A feeding schedule will ensure your puppy is getting all the nutrients it needs when it needs it.
Puppies between eight to twelve weeks need to eat three to four times a day.
If you are unsure, start with four times a day and gradually decrease it to three times a day. Once your puppy reaches six months, you can begin feeding twice a day.
General times to feed your puppy are morning, noon, and evening.
This allows you to space the feeding out during the puppy’s “wakeful” hours, reducing the number of times you have to disturb its sleep time.
- Morning: Feed your puppy when it gets up in the morning. This way, it will have time to go potty if you have work or need to leave the house.
- Noon: The second meal of the day offers more leeway. If your puppy is awake at 2 pm, then feed it lunch at 2 pm. If you have a break from work and can only feed it lunch at 11 am or 12 pm, that is okay.
- Evening: The last meal of the day should be a few hours before bedtime so that you and your puppy can get a full night’s rest. General times are between 4 pm and 7 pm.
3 Approaches to Correctly Wake Your Puppy Up
If you ever need to wake your puppy up, it is essential to remember to take care in how you do it so as not to startle your unaware canine friend.
Though rare for most puppies, if awakened suddenly, your puppy’s protective instincts might kick in and could cause an aggressive response until it realizes it is you waking them up.
Being tone conscious is a great way to wake your sleeping puppy up. Try to maintain a soft, quiet voice, which will signal to your puppy that there is no threat.
Most dogs will wake up at the sound of their name or even just the sound of their owner’s voice.
Let the puppy come to you or keep a light touch.
Once your puppy is awake, let it come to you rather than going to pick it up. This will allow your puppy to wake up fully.
If your puppy does not respond to your voice, you can always use a gentle touch, such as a stroke on the back or hind legs.
Stay away from the face area until you know your puppy is awake, just in case it wakes up disoriented.
When in doubt, let your puppy sleep.
If your puppy is sleeping soundly and does not fall under any of the conditions to wake it, it is best to leave it sleeping.
As your puppy sleeps, it is restoring energy that is vital in maintaining a healthy body and mind.
Plus, what’s cuter than a snoozing puppy?