It’s calming and adorable to see your dog sleep on their favorite couch. However, when their legs move or twitch, it can make us panic.
Do dogs dream? Are they having a nightmare? What do dogs dream about when they twitch?
Find out why dogs twitch in their sleep and what dogs dream about when they twitch.
We also share with you what to do if your dog is having a seizure.
Why Do Dogs Twitch in Their Sleep?
Dogs twitch in their sleep because a part of the dog’s brain that paralyzes the large muscles when sleeping is underdeveloped in puppies or already inefficient in senior dogs.
This is the part of the brain that hinders your dog from jumping up to chase a dream or biting enemies in their dream.
This twitching behavior is normal since almost every animal experiences this phenomenon.
Even middle-aged dogs experience it so there’s nothing to worry about.
Even humans experience it. You may have noticed your partner twitching in their sleep accidentally leading to an elbow jab or kick.
Remember that a dog’s level of activity does not affect how often they twitch in their sleep.
In rare cases, excessive twitching can be a neuromuscular condition like tick paralysis or an electrolyte imbalance due to malnutrition.
If you think your dog twitches too much, go to the vet immediately to get them checked out.
Do Dogs Dream?
As mentioned, dogs are also capable of dreaming like humans. Like us, they experience rapid eye movement (REM) sleep and slow-wave sleep (SWS).
The REM stage is a deep sleep where dreaming happens. They spend about 10% of their time in this phase when they are sleeping.
These stages differ between dogs and humans. Humans will average about four or five complete cycles per night, with each cycle lasting roughly 90 minutes.
Meanwhile, our furry friends have shorter 15-minute cycles and can experience about 20 per night.
What Do Dogs Dream About When They Twitch?
Dogs also twitch when they dream because of their pons, the part of their brain stem that manages the sleep cycles and regulates deep sleep.
Without the pons, they would act out their dreams and even stand up instead of just twitching. Most puppies and senior dogs do this because their pons is inefficient.
What dogs dream about are the normal day-to-day experiences they have. They could be running in their dreams, being tickled, or playing fetch with you.
Should You Wake Your Dog up From a Nightmare?
Some signs of a nightmare in dogs other than twitching can include:
- tiny howls
You may be tempted to wake your dog up when you notice these signs, but you shouldn’t wake them up too suddenly.
Disrupting your dog’s REM sleep will take them a few seconds to realize they are awake, so they might mistake you for the enemy and bite you.
This could be dangerous so explain to any children or house guests that waking up a dreaming dog is not safe.
Simply comfort your dog when they wake up instead of trying to wake them up.
What to Do If Your Dog is Having a Seizure
Sometimes, twitching or paddling doesn’t mean they are having a nightmare. It could be an indicator of seizure.
If it lasts for more than 30 seconds, then your dog could be having a seizure instead of a nightmare.
Seizing dogs cannot be woken, so the best thing you can do is stay calm, move them away from anything that might injure them, and do not touch their mouth or put anything in it.
Reassure them with gentle touches as well.
Other signs of seizure include:
- loss of consciousness
- chomping or tongue chewing
- foaming at the mouth.
Learn more about how to calm a dog after a seizure.
Dogs dream about their usual experiences when they are awake. It could be about running, playing cuddles with you, or chasing a bird.
According to research, one way to learn what dogs dream about is by temporarily disabling their pons during REM sleep.
With the pons deactivated, the dogs were free to act out their dreams and often acted out activities that they enjoyed doing while awake.
Learn more about what your dog dreams about!
Dogs sleep with their eyes closed just like us. However, it’s also normal for dogs to sleep with their eyes open.
There are many reasons why your dog could be sleeping with their eyes open. It could be because of their breed, their third eyelid, or because of a dream.
In some cases, it could be because of a seizure.
Learn more about your dogs’ eyes when they are sleeping!
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.
Everyone Twitches During Sleep
If your dog moves their legs while they sleep, it could simply be because they are dreaming. We have no idea if it’s a good or bad one, but it’s normal and everyone does it.
Even other animals and humans twitch in their sleep because the pons is keeping us from acting out our dreams.
Do not wake your dog up when they twitch. Instead, comfort them when they wake up.
Dogs also have their eyes opened when they are sleeping sometimes. Learn what you should do if they sleep with their eyes open!