why does my dog shake in his 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.
Does your dog shake when sleeping? Does it worry you? There can be several reasons for this shaking but they re usually not indicative of something seriously wrong with your dog just because it shakes when asleep. When a dog shakes while itвs sleeping it can be alarming because you canвt be sure whatвs causing the shaking and whether itвs a natural occurrence, or if the dog may be in pain. When your dog is deep in REM sleep you may notice it shaking, crying, kicking, or moving its legs like itвs running.
Rapid eye movement (REM) is the sleep stage in which dreams happen. During REM a dogвs mind is fully active and aware, even though its body is in a completely calm state. The dogвs mind will replay images from events that happened that day or even past events, and its body will react to those images, causing involuntary movement during sleep. There have been many studies proving that dogs do experience REM sleep stage. It is interesting that larger dog breeds donвt have dreams as frequently as do smaller dog breeds. If dreams are the reason for your dogвs actions, then you have nothing to be worried about. If you notice these same movements occurring frequently when your dog is simply resting, it s possible that your dog is having an epileptic seizure. Epileptic seizures stem from a disorder of the nerve cells in the dogвs brain and generally occur during consciousness but result in the dog losing consciousness. Nerve structures in the brain produce electrochemical signals and carry them to the brain where instructions to perform the various functions of the body are regulated.
When these signals become scrambled, the result is an epileptic seizure. During an epileptic seizure a dog may bite, snap or jerk, hurting its owner or itself. Since epileptic seizures cause unconsciousness, the dog will have no recollection of this behavior. Epileptic seizures do not seem to be controllable and tend to recur over the life of a dog. There are other causes for seizures in dogs such as tumors, kidney and liver disorders, infections, brain damage and toxins. A low oxygen level in the blood or blood glucose levels that are too high can also cause seizures. A dog might have a partial seizure affecting only parts of its body or a generalized seizure called a grand mal that affects the entire body. Grand mal is the most severe type of seizure. Although not very common, tremors in dogs can also be caused by abnormal cardiac contractions and restricted blood flow within the heart. This results in erratic involuntary movements. If this occurs while the dog is sleeping or awake, you should ask your veterinarian to give your dog a complete medical examination.
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