why do puppies twitch in their sleep

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.
Sometimes when I creepily watch sleep, I often wonder if he dreams. And if he does dream, what does he dream about that makes his little legs twitch? Why do these small whimpers slip out from his mouth? Like any regular crazy dog mom, I have my vet on speed dial so whenever I m unsure about something, I always give them a ring. In this instance, she assured me that he was most likely just dreaming. According to, dogs have two main types of sleep like humans do REM (rapid eye movement) sleep and SWS or slow wave sleep. The cycle of sleep starts off in slow wave sleep then gradually transitions into REM sleep. In the REM stage of sleep, the brain waves are rapid and irregular, like those of the awake stage. Just like humans, their mental activity at this stage is heightened. As a result, they might move their legs, whine, breath rapidly or etc.


Here s a short video of a Golden Retriever in the REM stage of sleep. Looks familiar, right? Should your pup ever experience a seizure, their body will stiffen and tremble severely. According to, a seizure is a sudden and uncontrolled burst of neurologic activity occur[ing] in the brain. But to a pup parent it is simply terrifying. So rest assured that simple sleep-twitching does not always equal a seizure. If you d like to an example of an actual nocturnal seizure, but it s not included here because it s difficult to watch. If you re unsure how to respond when you see your dog sleep-twitching, here are some tips from. 1. Don t panic! Some dogs might be reactive when sleeping so if you re thinking of waking your dog, call out to him gently instead of using your hand to wake him. Of course, if you don t have to wake them, it s best to let them sleep. р 2.


Reassure your pup. Sometimes dogs can wake up frightened if they had a nightmare. In this scenario, just speak to them calmly when they ve awoken. 3. Keep them warm. Sometimes when the temperature drops, your pup might twitch in an attempt to stay warm so lay a blanket over him or turn up the heat. 4. Educate yo self! Know the difference between dream twitching and a seizure! If your pup is sleep-twitching, they ll wake up if you call their name. During a seizure, your dog will not respond to you if you call out their name. If you want to learn more about canine seizures and the specifics, is a great resource to educate yourself on the causes of a seizure and the signs to look out for when your pup is having a seizure. Until next time, happy napping like Loki and his owner in the above photo! Talk about napping goals. р Featured image via