Click here to learn more.
Vetstreet. All rights reserved.
Vetstreet does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. See Additional Information ›
Your snoozing dog suddenly starts moving his feet, but his eyes stay closed. His body starts to twitch and quiver, and he may vocalize a little. He looks like he is running on his side, possibly chasing something in his dreams. What's going on?
Just like us, dogs dream. They go through three sleep stages: NREM, non-rapid eye movement; REM, rapid eye movement; and SWS, short-wave sleep. It is in the SWS stage that a dog breathes heavily while he is sleeping. Animal experts theorize that dogs dream during the REM stage and act on their dreams by twitching or moving all four paws as if they were chasing a rabbit.
Dogs who sleep all curled up must keep their muscles tensed and are therefore less relaxed than dogs who stretch out when they sleep and are less likely to twitch in their sleep.
For reasons yet to be explained, young puppies and senior dogs tend to move more in their sleep and to dream more than adult dogs. If you are sleeping close by, these dogs may unintentionally wake you up because of their jerky body movements.
Do not panic when you see your sleeping dog start to twitch. Gently call out his name to wake him. Some dogs can be touchy and reactive while sleeping, so do not use your hand to rouse your dog or you may get bitten. For your safety, honor that adage to “let sleeping dogs lie.”
Some dogs have nightmares and wake up frightened. Speak to these dogs calmly to reassure them when they wake.
Dips in temperature can cause cold dogs to twitch while sleeping, in the body’s attempt to stay warm. If you suspect that this is the case, turn up the heat or provide your dog with a blanket.
Know the difference between benign dreamland twitching and a seizure. During sleep twitching, your dog may make a jerky movement or two, but he will fall back to a quiet sleep. If you call his name, he will wake up. During a seizure, your dog’s body is stiff, trembles heavily and may lock up. He can lose consciousness and may pant excessively. He will not respond to his name being called.
More on Vetstreet.com:
* Should Dogs and Cats Sleep in Your Bed?
* 10 Surprising Things About How Animals Sleep
* Why Does My Dog... Sleep Belly Up?
Like this article? Have a point of view to share? Let us know!
Thank you for subscribing to Petwire. Look for the latest newsletter each Wednesday.
Firefighter Tony Stowe carried an injured
Vizsla for two miles after the dog was
found on a high ledge in Utah.
From the brainy Border Collie to the
versatile Labrador Retriever, meet 10
breeds that are eager to learn new…
With help from Dr. Andy Roark, we
present this “highly scientific” and highly
funny guide to working out with…
Getting a pet parrot? Here's what you
need to know about African grays,
cockatiels, macaws and budgerigars.
Your pet’s health could be at risk if you believe these misconceptions, like “home remedies” that are actually…
New to the sporting group, this gorgeous breed is an all-around hunting dog with a clever nature and sensitive soul.
Take our breed quiz to find your next pet.
If the video doesn't start playing momentarily,
please install the latest version of Flash.
Thank you for subscribing.