Sleep Disorders in dogs: A Pathophysiological and Clinical Review

Top Companion Anim Med. 2021 Jun:43:100516. doi: 10.1016/j.tcam.2021.100516. Epub 2021 Feb 6.


Sleep is a fundamental process in mammals, including domestic dogs. Disturbances in sleep affect physiological functions like cognitive and physical performance, immune response, pain sensation and increase the risk of diseases. In dogs, sleep can be affected by several conditions, with narcolepsy, REM sleep behavior disorder and sleep breathing disorders being the most frequent causes. Furthermore, sleep disturbances can be a symptom of other primary diseases where they can contribute to the worsening of clinical signs. This review describes reciprocally interacting sleep and wakefulness promoting systems and how their dysfunction can explain the pathophysiological mechanisms of sleep disorders. Additionally, this work discusses the clinical characteristics, diagnostic tools and available treatments for these disorders while highlighting areas in where further studies are needed so as to improve their treatment and prevention.

Keywords: REM sleep; narcolepsy; sleep apnea; sleep disorders; sleep neurobiology.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Dog Diseases*
  • Dogs
  • Narcolepsy* / veterinary
  • REM Sleep Behavior Disorder* / veterinary
  • Sleep
  • Sleep Wake Disorders* / veterinary
  • Wakefulness