SLEEP hygiene is the term used to describe the habits we cultivate to promote a good night’s sleep. But we’re not the only species that suffers from the effects of insomnia or interrupted sleep. Companion animals can also benefit from sleep hygiene – especially as they get older.
● Stick to a routine. Putting animals to bed at the same time each night can help.
● Keep the pet’s resting environment quiet and out of high-traffic areas in the household. Provide a comfortable bed.
● Separate incompatible pets at night, such as an elderly dog who is annoyed by a playful kitten.
● If an animal suffers from a painful condition such as arthritis and cannot get comfortable, see your vet. He or she may benefit from treatment.
● Exposure to natural sunlight can help maintain a night-day cycle.
● Ensure your pet gets enough physical exercise during the day. It helps to ensure they are tired enough to sleep.
● Ensure your pet is on good flea control. Fleas bite through the night, and constant waking up to scratch deprives animals of a restful sleep. I’ve seen problem behaviours in pets disappear with the institution of decent flea control alone.
Like us, animals that sleep well are much happier.
Dr Anne Fawcett is a lecturer in veterinary
science at the University of Sydney and a vet with Sydney Animal Hospitals Inner West.
Read her blog: smallanimaltalk.com