Do Dogs Close Their Eyes When They Sleep?

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Dog parents know how much their pets love to sleep all day. If you’ve ever walked on them peacefully slumbering, you know how adorable and fascinating the sight is.

Humans close their eyes when they sleep, but what about dogs? Do dogs close their eyes when they sleep?

We share the answer with you, as well as more information on why your dog sleeps with their eyes open. 

We also talk about what to do when your dog sleeps with their eyes open.

How Much Sleep Dogs Need?

Dogs spend about half of their day sleeping according to the National Sleep Foundation. Puppies, senior dogs, and larger breeds may sleep for even longer. 

Puppies require a sleep schedule of up to 18 or 20 hours of sleep to recharge and they can’t go for long stretches overnight without relieving themselves.

Do Dogs Close Their Eyes When They Sleep?

Ideally, dogs should close their eyes when they’re sleeping. 

Like humans, dogs sleep with their eyes closed and not seeing anything.

However, some dogs sleep with their eyes open. But that doesn’t mean they can see you with their eyes open.

The reason for this can be traced back to their wild heritage.

Dogs slept with eyes open in the wild so that they could protect themselves from predators who would think they are asleep. 

When dogs sleep with their eyelids open, their eyes may roll back in their head with the whites exposed. Sometimes, the eyes move as a natural part of REM sleep. 

Rapid Eye Movement is the period that is responsible for the most memorable and vivid dreams. It is part of how the body processes memory. 

In a famous experiment, scientists found that the same areas light up in the rats’ brains during running in a maze and when they are in REM. 

This may mean that they were dreaming about the maze, suggesting that animals dream as we do.

Why Your Dog Sleeps with Their Eyes Open

Aside from the survival instinct they got from their ancestors, dogs may sleep with their eyes open for a number of reasons.

Breed

Some dog breeds are just more predisposed to it than others. Usually, these are the dogs with bulbous eyes, such as:

  • Pug
  • Boston Terrier
  • Greyhounds
  • Olde English Sheepdogs
  • Dandie Dinmont Terrier.

Dreaming

As mentioned, dogs, especially puppies and senior dogs, sleep with their eyes open and twitching because they are dreaming.

This is because puppies and older dogs don’t have efficient pons.

The pons is the part of their brain stem that manages the sleep cycles and regulates deep sleep. 

Without it, we might act out everything we are dreaming about. 

Seizure

Another possible reason could be a seizure. When your dog dreams, their face is relaxed despite their eyes open. 

However, if they are having a seizure, there may be tension, jaw-snapping, or convulsion. 

Other signs of a seizure in a dog include: 

  • jerking bodily movements
  • stiffening 
  • drooling
  • loss of consciousness
  • chomping or tongue chewing
  • foaming at the mouth.

Another difference between a seizure and twitching is that seizures are more aggressive. They may thrash, shake, and kick around. 

If your dog has a seizure, remember to stay calm, move them away from anything that might injure them, and do not touch their mouth or put anything in it.

Reassure your dog with gentle touches and time the seizure. If it lasts more than a few minutes, there is a risk of overheating. 

Place a fan near them to blow cool air. Wrap a cool, damp, cloth around their paws to cool them down.

If it lasts more than five minutes, take them to the vet immediately. 

Third Eyelid

Your dog stays comfortable with their eyes open because of their third eyelid called the nictitating membrane. It’s responsible for producing about half of your dog’s tears.

This is the light pink tissue that moves laterally over their eyeball like a windshield wiper.

Your pup doesn’t have control over the movement of their third eyelid, so when they close their eyes, it moves back in the orbital socket.

What to Do When Your Dog Sleeps with Eyes Open

There is usually no need to worry when your dog sleeps with their eyes open. 

Their third eyelid is working to keep them safe. They dream because their brain is working normally. 

If you think they are having a nightmare and need to be woken up, then you may do so carefully. 

Dogs usually get defensive when they get distracted from their sleep. You don’t want to seem like an enemy to your dog, so just say their name gently.

Don’t shake them up or they might bite you. After they’ve been woken up, let them pop back to sleep.   

FAQ Dogs and Sleep

What Do Dogs Dream About?

Dogs dream about day-to-day experiences, probably about playing fetch with you, walking around your house, or getting pats on the head. 

According to research, one way to learn what dogs dream about is by temporarily disabling their pons during REM sleep.

Their results show that dogs dream about “doggy” things, the same kind of pattern we, humans, experience.

Learn more about what your dog dreams about!

Do Dogs Have Nightmares?

Like some of us, dogs react aggressively when they dream because of a nightmare. 

These nightmares may be hard to watch and they are usually evident in their twitching. 

While twitching is normal, it may make you feel uncomfortable that your dog is having a hard time in their dream.

Learn what it means and what you should do when your dog twitches in their sleep.

My Puppy Sleeps Too Much. Is This Normal?

You shouldn’t worry if your pup sleeps a lot. In fact, more than half of their day should be spent snoozing, about 18-20 hours.

Sleeping is the main event in most dogs’ daily lives. As long as they get enough exercise, then it is normal for puppies to sleep a little more.
In this post, we talk about how to properly exercise your dog.

Keep an Eye on Your Dog

Dogs definitely sleep with their eyes closed. This is as normal as when we sleep with our eyes closed.

In some cases, dogs sleep with their eyes opened. That doesn’t mean they can see you when they’re sleeping. 

Learn the difference between normal sleeping and a seizure in your dog. In case of a seizure, stay calm and move them away from anything that might hurt them.

To always guarantee their safety, make your dog’s bedding is safe and comfortable for them.

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