Dog's twitch in their sleep due to many factors. Fortunately, there are several things you can do. One of them is to remain calm.
Why Do Dogs Twitch in their Sleep?
Many dog owners have noticed that sometimes their furry friend is a little too active during their sleep periods. Many dogs twitch in their sleep, which can cause alarm for their owners, especially those with limited experience with canines.
Typically, however, twitching is not a negative sign. Canine experts typically agree that the cause of twitching in sleeping dogs is just the physical activity during their dream cycles. While owners can be concerned, normally twitching is not a sign of health problems in dogs.
However, there are a few reasons for twitching in dogs, which can sometimes be problematic. It is important for dog owners to discern between normal behavior and signs of a problem.
If you're ever concerned, it's always best to have a Veterinarian check out your pet. Following are some more reasons for twitching, and what they mean.
Why Dogs Twitch in their Sleep
Like humans, dogs engage in REM Cycles during sleep. Laying on their soft and comfy beds they reach a deeper level of sleep, they start to actively dream, just like we do.
No one really knows what dogs dream about, but we know that they typically have both good and bad dreams, just like humans do.
From what we can tell, dogs dream about running, playing, or even protecting things such as territory or their friends. This is both adorable and explains the soft movement that they experience during dreams.
Dogs also dream frequently during sleep cycles, with a one minute dream occurring about every twenty minutes. Of course, this means that the opportunity for twitching is much more abundant in dogs.
Dogs are much more complex and intelligent than we perhaps give them credit for, and their dreams play a significant role in their sleep cycles just like us.
Your Pup's Age
Age can play a significant role in the twitching that occurs in a dog’s sleep cycle. Experts state that younger and older dogs are usually more prone to twitching than their more middle-aged cohorts.
The reason for this is biological in origin. Essentially, dogs contain a part of the brain known as the pons, just like humans do. The pons contains two ‘off’ switches, so to speak, which when either underdeveloped or weakened due to age can cause twitching.
What these switches do is turn off muscles, so when they are not working properly muscles can be activated during the sleep cycle.
Waking Up A Sleeping Dog
The expression “Let Sleeping Dogs Lie” might have more real world relevance than you think.
While there are not really any major risks to waking a dog up during a dream, or twitching, there can be from waking a dog up from a nightmare.
Unfortunately, if you think your dog is having a nightmare, it might be best to let them continue to sleep and provide comfort afterwards.
Attempting to wake a dog from a nightmare might cause them to be aggressive and attack before they fully realize what is going on.
When Does Twitching Become A Problem?
Foremost, excessive twitching can be a problem as it interferes with your dog’s sleep.
Excessive twitching can be a sign of muscular malfunction and is certainly worth seeing the vet for. If your dog is twitching outside of sleep cycles, you will want to take them to see a vet.
Typically, a twitching dog is on their side, paddling their paws and making little noise.
Rapid Eye Movement (REM) is also common during dreams, just like it is in humans, so do not be alarmed if your dog’s eyes move during their sleep cycle.
What to do if your Dog Twitches
If your dog convulses, or goes into full on body shakes, it might be a sign of a seizure.
Their limbs will be much more rigid and violent during a seizure, as compared to the soft and fluid movements during dream activity.
Other signs of a seizure include loss of bowel and bladder control and foaming or fluid coming from the mouth.
One key way to tell the difference is that dreaming dogs are typically easily awoken, while seizing dogs appear to be in a trance of sorts that is not easily broken.
If you attempt to wake up your dog from these convulsions, or they appear dazed or exhausted afterwards, it could very well be post-seizure activity.
In either of these cases, it is imperative to contact a vet immediately.
What to do After a Seizure
After a seizure, it is important to remain calm.
Your main short-term goal should be to comfort the dog, as they do not know what could have just happened, and are more than likely very frightened, confused, and exhausted.
If your dog experiences multiple seizures, keep him cool by laying wet towels over his neck and appendages. You will also want to time their seizures as that information is very useful to a vet.
While many dogs suffer a seizure in their lifetime, and some never have them occur again, each seizure increases the chance of another happening, so it is incredibly important to see or speak to a vet as soon as possible.
Conclusion for Helping Dog's Twitch in their Sleep
It is advised that dog owners monitor their dogs twitching periodically as to be proactive against any health complications your dog might have.
You can also have blood work done during vet visits to stay on top of any underlying conditions your dog might have.
Many dog owners are taken aback by their furry companions twitching in their sleep, but do not be immediately alarmed as more often than not, it is completely normal!
Dogs dream just like we do, but it is imperative to know the difference between physical activity during dreams and other health complications.
Additionally, as previously mentioned, if your dog’s twitching begins to interrupt their sleep it would be best to see or speak to a vet.
If you have any additional concerns about your dog’s health, it is always best to consult a vet as soon as possible.