why does my dog twitch when sleeping

Dogs, like people, can have seizures. They also can dream. It s important for owners to distinguish between seizures and the twitching that commonly occurs when dogs are dreaming. There are some characteristic traits associated with seizures and dreaming that can help differentiate between these two conditions. Dogs always are sleeping and lying down when they dream. They often have seizures when they are awake, although they are unconscious while the seizure is actually happening. They also can have seizures during sleep. Dogs that are dreaming may or may not have their eyes open. Usually, their eyes will at least be partially closed, and they will look peaceful and relaxed. During a seizure, a dog s eyes typically are wide open, and they have a blank look on their face. A sleeping dog that is dreaming may cry out once or twice or give occasional short barks. When a seizing dog vocalizes, it moans, howls or screams. This can be the worst part of the experience for its owner.


Fortunately, this is involuntary and not a sign of pain or distress. Dreaming dogs often twitch, shake, paddle and kick with their legs as if they are running in place or chasing a bunny. Dogs having seizures tend to be stiffer and more rigid. The motions of a dog that is dreaming usually are intermittent and brief, while seizure activity typically lasts longer. Dogs can easily be awakened when they are dreaming during sleep. Seizures cannot be interrupted. Seizures typically involve violent muscle activity, uncontrollable shaking and thrashing about. The movements associated with dreaming are more gentle and shorter-lasting. The sleeping dog's body is relaxed, except for the twitching legs, feet and lips. Their eyes are entirely or partially closed, and their facial expression is peaceful. Dogs often have trouble walking after they have a seizure. They usually don t have this problem after waking up from a dream. Most dogs are disoriented and confused following a seizure.


They are not disoriented or confused when they wake up from a dream. Dogs frequently bite their tongue, foam at the mouth and drool during a seizure. Dreaming dogs rarely show these signs. Dogs may vomit, urinate and/or defecate during a seizure. This doesn't happen in dogs that are dreaming. Dreaming dogs breathe normally. Dogs that are seizing tend to have labored breathing. Seizures often happen when a dog is excited, although they also can occur during sleep. Dreams only happen when a dog is sleeping and relaxed. Owners usually can tell whether their dog is dreaming or having a seizure, especially once they have witnessed a seizure. It probably is best not to wake a dog up while it is dreaming (it is impossible to wake a dog up during a seizure). Let sleeping dogs lie.
Have you ever seen a dog lying down asleep, but his muscles are twitching and jerking? Actually, it happens to humans too, but we are asleep and probably don t notice!


Involuntary muscle twitching is called myoclonus and it routinely occurs in both species. Dogs are actually a lot like us when they sleep. Polysomnography (a sleep study that records brain waves) proves that dogs experience similar brain changes when sleeping as humans. They can engage in all kinds of movements, twitches and leg movements. Some dogs will even bark or whine while sleeping. Myoclonus Pfor people has been more thoroughly studied and is thought to occur in the phase right before deep sleep. Sleeping movements can be associated with dreaming as well. Dreaming seems to occur in humans with Rapid Eye Movement (REM) sleep. Some people move or even speak while they dream. People and dogs share a lot of sleep similarities, even some sleep disorders. Narcolepsy, a disorder characterized by excessive daytime sleepiness and cataplexy (sudden physical collapse) has been found to occur in both species.


It is not surprising that myoclonus too occurs in both of us. For human beings, myoclonus can become a sleep disorder, be disruptive, and require medical treatment, but humans are able to verbally report that they feel tired and sleep deprived. Our dogs cannot make such claims, so if you notice that the myoclonus wakes your dog, (especially if he seems tired or lethargic), happens more than transiently or occurs when your dog is awake, you must notify your veterinarian. Involuntary twitching while awake could actually be a sign of a seizure disorder and should be investigated. But don t worry, myoclonus is not usually a problem and normal healthy dogs (and people for that matter) twitch while sleeping. It is not usually a cause for concern, but it is a good idea to be very observant of how and when your dog is sleeping so that you would know if something was amiss. Do you love dogs? Like learning about them? Follow me on Facebook by clicking.

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