Have you ever witnessed your dog twitching or shaking while sleeping? It’s quite a common spectacle, and leaves us wondering why? The common belief is that he’s dreaming, but is that actually true? This article has your answer.
Why Your Dog Twitches and Shakes While Sleeping
Do dogs dream? The long-asked question finally has its professional answer. According to Dr. Stanley Coren, a former psychology professor at the University of British Columbia and the author of “Do Dogs Dream?” says that Yes, dogs do dream. And they go through the same three stages that humans go through:
- NREM: non-rapid eye movement
- REM: rapid eye movement
- SWS: short-wave sleep.
Animal experts believe that it’s during the REM sleep cycle where dogs often start twitching, shaking and trembling. This also follows true for humans too.
Did you know that dogs actively dream about real-life events just as we do? Things like chasing their ball in the park, spotting a rabbit in the fields and chasing after it. You may not have those dreams, but Fido certainly does!
Experts have linked the physical acts of twitching, trembling, shaking and even growling to whatever dream your dog may be experiencing. The brain is thought to be acting out the dream through these physical behaviors.
Other Reasons Why Your Dog Twitches in His Sleep
While it’s mostly about dreaming, it’s not all about dreaming! Your dog may twitch or shake during his sleep depending on his sleeping position, his age, and even temperature.
Dogs who sleep in a curled up position will naturally have their muscles tensed and tightened. When their muscles remain tensed like this, it can often lead to trembles and twitching. This can also be the case when they are awake. You may notice dogs who are anxiously awaiting a treat, shaking in anticipation, this is to do with their muscles holding great amounts of tension.
Young dogs and senior dogs often shake more than adult dogs. There are yet to be official explanations for this and animal experts still do not know why. Dreaming is said to be more present in young and old dogs, but these findings are still without answers.
The temperature could also be the reason why your dog is twitching or shaking. In some cases, a drop in temperature will cause your dog to shake.
Should You Wake Up a Dog That’s Twitching or Shaking While Asleep?
So is this behavior ok to let happen? Should you wake your dog up if he’s shaking, twitching or growling? This ultimately depends on whether your dog is having a good dream or a bad dream.
|Good Dream||Bad Dream|
|Physical Behavior||Twitching, kicking, light shaking, moving paws, quiet noises||Heavy panting, growling, showing teeth, screaming or loud yelping|
If your dog is having a “good” dream, then you can expect to see behavior such as twitching, light shaking, kicking and quiet noise. If your dog is having a “bad” dream or nightmare, then you can expect to hear growling, crying, and even loud yelping.
When you see behavior that represents a good dream, you shouldn’t intervene. But when you see behavior that may indicate a nightmare, you should use your voice to ease him out of the bad dream. Do not attempt to touch him.
Touching a sleeping dog, especially one having a nightmare could end badly! For safety reasons, only use your voice to ease him out of a bad dream. When you start talking, his brain will register your voice, and slowly but surely he’ll either come out of the nightmare or become awake.
Seizures and nightmares can look somewhat similar, so it’s very important for you to learn the difference. Let’s move on to dog sleep and the signs of a seizure.
How to Know if Your Dog is Having a Seizure While Sleeping
A scary moment for any dog owner is looking at your dog’s strange behavior and not knowing if he’s ok, or in need of emergency help. Bad dreams and seizures look similar but are very, very different.
Nightmares compared to seizures:
Dogs having nightmares or bad dreams can still be easily woken up from them, which would then stop all physical behavior like growling, and shaking.
Dogs having seizures while asleep cannot be woken up with ease. It’s possible to see dogs panting heavily, drooling and it’s common to see them urinate or defecate on themselves. Dreaming dogs do not typically display these physical behaviors.
It can be very difficult to identify whether or not your dog is having a seizure or a nightmare, so try your best to remain calm and look for those common signs.
How you can help during a seizure:
The first thing you should attempt to do is call out your dogs name to awaken him from his current state. If he doesn’t wake up then it’s possible he’s having a seizure.
If you’re able to call your veterinarian, you should do to receive some instructions over the phone.
In the meantime, you should make the area safe for him to avoid him hurting himself with his movements. If he’s close to the wall, put a pillow in between his head and any close, hard surfaces. If he’s demonstrating seizure behavior for more than 3-4 minutes, use a damp cool towel over his body and head to help prevent overheating. Source AKC
Seizures should always be taken seriously, if you are with someone else, have them videotape your dog’s behavior so your veterinarian can review it. Your dog may require further check-ups.
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Should You Be Worried About Normal Twitching
If you’ve established that your dog doesn’t suffer from seizures, but just regularly dreams and shows it through various physical behavior, should you worry?
Twitching, shaking, kicking and making quiet noises is in most cases completely normal and nothing to be worried about.
This behavior is common in all breeds and isn’t limited or enhanced in any one breed. Depending on the sleep cycle your dog is in, you can expect this kind of behavior on a regular basis.
If the twitching becomes significant enough for it to actually awaken him from his sleep, it may need seeing to if it happens frequently. Uninterrupted sleep is important for dogs just as it is for us. Dogs can suffer from narcolepsy or other sleep disorders if they have persistent issues with sleep.
If you’re interested in learning more about your furry friends sleeping habits you may like to check out my article Do Dogs Need Darkness to Sleep. This article answers a commonly asked question and covers ways in which you help your pooch rest well.
So there you have it! You now know why your dog twitches, shakes or wiggles his paws during his sleep. You also know how to spot the signs of a nightmare, or worse, a seizure.
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DisclaimerThe advice given in this article is for educational purposes only and does not constitute professional advice in any context. Before making any decisions that may affect the health and/or safety of your dog, you should always consult a trained veterinarian in your local area. For the FULL disclaimer Visit Here
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