You might have noticed a sudden, relatively short twitching while your dog was sleeping and wondered if they were dreaming or expressing some type of discomfort.
These involuntary movements, in which dogs twitch in sleep, occur only during dream states and usually do not last long. Most likely, they’re just having some unusual dreams. There are, however, a few other explanations for a twitching dog. Most of the time, twitching is just normal dog behavior, but in some cases, it can be caused by stress, old age, or an underlying health condition.
Twitching can occur anywhere on your dog’s body, but it is most common in the legs, tail, or head. Small vocalizations may accompany it. This article has all that you need to know about dog twitching, including when to take your pup to the vet.
Is your dog twitching in sleep? Find out what it is.
As you want to know about dog twitching in sleep, you should learn what dog twitching is. Dog twitching is a muscle contractions spasm that can occur in almost any part of a puppy’s body. Twitching usually occurs in your dog’s back legs while he is sleeping. Your four-legged friend is not the only one who twitches during the night. Many animals, it turns out, are affected by this phenomenon.
Puppies and other young animals are especially twitchy while sleeping. Senior dogs, like puppies, twitch more than middle-aged adult dogs. According to one theory, when your dog sleeps, his brain stem (particularly the pons and medulla) sends signals to relax muscles, preventing your dog from actually jumping up to chase that dream squirrel. This part of the brain stem may be underdeveloped in puppies and less efficient in older dogs.
Why does a dog twitch in its sleep?
Dogs commonly sleep 12-14 hours per day on average. A dog’s brain processes information and experiences from the day through dreams while they sleep. Twitching is frequently associated with active dream cycles in the brain.
According to researches, an average-sized dog dreams about every 20 minutes, which lasts about a minute. Larger breeds have fewer but longer-lasting dreams—about every 45 minutes for 4 minutes. On the other hand, Smaller breed dogs will dream every 10 minutes for up to 30 seconds.
Dogs go through the same dream stages as humans, such as non-rapid eye movement (NREM), short-wave sleep (SWS), and rapid eye movement (REM) (REM). A dog’s eyes move around behind closed eyelids during the REM state, and the huge body muscles are turned off so that the dream is not physically acted out.
The pons, which is part of the brain stem, is the part of the brain that contains these off switches. The pons may still develop in younger dogs, whereas it may weaken with age in older dogs. As a result, twitching while sleeping is more common in puppies and older dogs and less common in adult dogs.
The amount of twitching is determined by how much muscle movement is inhibited by these off switches. Because puppies need to process more information, they spend more time in dream sleep than adult dogs.
Dogs who sleep curled up will keep their muscles tensed and less relaxed, which may cause them to twitch less than dogs who sleep stretched out. Any outside stimulation, such as thunder, fireworks, or strange voices, may partially awaken a sleeping dog and cause twitching.
Reasons why you can see a dog twitching in sleep
Below are some common causes of dog twitching:
- Development of growth
- Active dreaming
- Anxiety problems
- Fireworks, thunderstorms, or encounters with strangers are examples of external stimuli.
- Epilepsy and diabetes are two examples of medical conditions.
- Muscle tenseness
Other studies have found that if your dog has been exposed to certain toxins, such as chocolate or laundry detergent, the poisoning from those toxins may cause your dog to twitch. A twitching dog could also be due to old age. Puppies, especially newborns, frequently twitch as part of their normal development. Puppies are particularly active dreamers because they are strengthening their muscles and brains.
If you spot a dog twitching in sleep, should you wake them?
If your dog sleeps next to you, their sudden body movements may unintentionally disturb your sleep. However, unless a dog is clearly in distress, it is often advised not to awaken a dog that is twitching in their sleep.
These involuntary movements could result from a nightmare or night terror, and they may wake up terrified. Avoid touching them to avoid them biting or scratching you as a result of being startled.
Rather, call your dog’s name gently until they respond. After they wake up, speak calmly and reassure them that they are safe and secure. Dreaming dogs may be slow to awaken, despite appearing to be very active in their sleep.
When should you be worried if you see your dog twitching in sleep?
When your dog’s sleep is disrupted by twitching, you should be concerned. They might be unable to fall asleep or wake up frequently during the night.
Another source of concern is when the twitching progresses to a full-body tremor, causing the body to become rigid or lasting longer than a brief spasm. In this case, there could be another cause for the twitching, such as:
- Seizures or other neurologic disorders
- Parasitic, bacterial, or viral infection
- Low blood sugar levels
- Body temperature is too low.
- Kidney and liver problems
- Certain heart problems
- Ingestion of a poison
Ingesting pesticides, whether topical or environmental or toxic foods, can cause cramps or tremors in dogs. If you feel that your dog has been exposed to a toxin or has another underlying medical condition, an immediate veterinary exam is required for proper diagnosis and treatment.
When must you call the vet if you see your dog twitching in sleep?
If your dog has full-body tremors that last longer than a quick spasm or cause their body to become rigid, they may be having a twitching. In these cases, you should contact an emergency veterinarian right away. Other indications of a seizure include:
- Foaming at mouth
- A bowel movement
Your dog may appear anxious or restless before having a twitching. According to Pads and Paws, during a twitching, your dog may keep their eyes wide open, whether asleep or awake, and exhibit a “deer in headlights” look, and they will often act confused or dazed after the event. It’s also important to remember that seizures don’t always look the same.
As twitchings can manifest as focal tics or tremors at times, looking for other signs of seizure activity, such as the described behavioral changes, can help you determine whether or not your dog has had a seizure versus a normal muscle twitch. If you suspect seizure activity, you should contact a vet.
Significant and prolonged twitching can be a sign of diabetes, hypothermia, kidney and liver problems, or poison ingestion, all of which will necessitate veterinary care. Toxins commonly consumed by your dog include rodent poisons, medications, and human foods that are not suitable for pets.
If you suspect poisoning, contact an emergency veterinarian immediately. Most of the time, your pet is twitching in their sleep because they’re having a good dream. However, if you’re ever in doubt, it’s always a good idea to contact your veterinarian.
Does twitching in sleep happen during their dreams?
A dog twitching in sleep is a good indication that they’re fast asleep. Dogs and humans have the same sleep stages, including short-wave sleep and rapid eye movement. When your dog is dreaming, he or she may appear to be kicking the air.
Dogs commonly sleep for 12 to 14 hours per day on average. It is common and normal for dogs to twitch their tail or entire body during the sleep stages – they may even bark. Consider this to be your dog communicating in their sleep.
Dogs often twitch during nightmares or night terrors. Though it’s difficult to watch, they recommend not waking your dog unless it’s obvious that they’re in distress. If you require to wake them up, call their name softly until they respond. If you touch a dog who is having night terrors, you risk being bitten.
What is the difference between a dog twitching in sleep and a seizure during sleep?
A dog’s body will be fluid and laidback during normal sleep. Besides that, they will be breathing normally with their eyes partly or fully closed. They should easily awaken and respond to voices.
Normal twitching occurs when a dog is lying on its side, paddling its paws, and possibly making small noises. When your dog starts twitching, you may notice irregular breathing.
Seizures usually happen when dogs are awake. Look at the following signs to see if a dog twitching in sleep is caused by a seizure:
- The body stiffens
- Breathing is difficult.
- Wide-open eyes but no reaction
- Consciousness loss, with no response to your voice
- Irregular urine and bowel movements
- At the mouth, there is foaming.
After the seizure activity has ended, dogs may appear confused, disoriented, or dazed, and they may drool or pant.
Puppies and aged dogs twitch more than other dogs while sleeping. According to psychologists, dogs dream about their daily experiences. Nonetheless, you should keep in mind the times you must be concerned about your furry folk while they twitch. Even if they have a nightmare, it is best not to wake a dog. However, if you spot unnatural behavior, contact your vet early. Enjoy petting! Woof! Woof!