What’s Normal When It Comes To Sleep Quality?

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Depression, lethargy and anorexia are all signs we consider to be indicators of reduced quality of life in veterinary patients. We look at whether sleep quality could be another measure to add to the list.

Everyone feels better after a good night’s sleep and that’s probably also true for pets. For some of us it’s not just a few more minutes we need but some extra hours. We’ve been using the Vetrax sensor to measure the results from over 28,000 dog days (and nights) of data and have been able to show that there is definite variability in sleep quality between dogs too.

The Vetrax sensor counts the number of ‘change events’ during the night (11pm-5am). Change events include transitioning from one recorded behavior to another – for instance from sleep to pacing, shaking or scratching.  We can expect a dog to experience fewer change events during an undisturbed sleep cycle.

Pain and discomfort will also result in changes to the Sleep Index recorded by Vetrax and this can be tracked against what’s normal for most dogs. It’s a really valuable measure to use when monitoring atopic dogs, where skin irritation, scratching and shaking results in frequent interruptions throughout the night.

Other conditions such as joint pain can affect the Sleep Index as the dog moves around to try and find a more comfortable sleep position. Much of this goes unnoticed as the pet owner is usually asleep too but it could be a very important clinical sign that’s completely missed when reviewing the pet’s history. It’s just another way that Vetrax helps veterinarians and pet owners to work together to monitor and improve pet wellbeing 24/7.

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