We as pet owners are used to see our dogs sleep peacefully with their eyes closed. However, sometimes we may freak out when we notice one or both of their eyes being wide open during their sleep. But is that normal? Or should we be concerned? To learn why do dogs sleep with their eyes open, keep reading.
Why is my dog sleeping with his eyes open?
First of all, let’s all collectively calm down! Is your dog breathing weirdly or acting strange in any way other than having his eyes open? If not, there is most likely no reason to be worried at all.
Just like us, dogs dream too (Do Dogs Dream? If So, What About?). And sometimes it’s completely normal to have our eyes open while doing so.
Let’s first take a look at a dog’s sleeping pattern.
Dog sleeping cycle
It’s very common for dogs to sleep anywhere between 12 to 14 hours a day, and during that time they also go through REM cycles when they start dreaming. For puppies it’s even more. They can sleep from 18 to 20 hours a day. As they need to charge up after their exhausting day of spinning around the backyard or playing with their siblings. That’s a lot of work for a small pup.
When a dog settles in for a good night’s sleep, they start out in what’s known as short-wave or slow-wave sleep. This is the time that your pet’s breathing and heart rate slow down.
This slow-wave sleep stage only lasts for about 10 minutes. It then gives way to the rapid eye movement, or REM, stage. REM sleep is the stage where your dog’s eyelids (usually) close and dreaming takes place.
Why do dogs sleep with their eyes open?
So your pup is all snuggled up in his bed and seems to be perfectly peaceful in bis sleep. However, suddenly his eyes open and you completely freak out. What is going on here? And is it normal or should you go to the vet immediately?
The most likely answer is — no. You don’t even have to worry about it in most cases. As scary as it looks your pet is most likely completely fine.
Most of the time, there’s nothing to worry about. There’s no need to wake up your dog from their slumber.
It’s just a normal part if their dreaming cycle and it can actually even happen to humans! It’s just the dreams that are tricking our eyelids into thinking that we are awake in some rare circumstances.
When does it become a problem?
There are only a few instances when your dog sleeping with his eyes open can become a problem.
In very rare cases that can actually be a sign of your dog having a seizure. Seizures affect the brain and usually happen due to some other illnesses. Epilepsy is one of the most common reasons why dogs experience seizures.
A seizure is different from the normal twitching of legs that a dog may do while dreaming. It’s important to know the difference.
Dogs that are experiencing a seizure will have their eyes wide open with a blank stare or odd eye movements. If you suspect that your dog is having a seizure, contact your vet immediately.
However, if your dog’s eyes appear to be relaxed and each of his eyelids is partially closed, it’s most likely not a seizure.
Conclusion – Do dogs sleep with their eyes open?
While it is strange to see your dog sleep with their eyes open, you still should try and close their eyelids with your hands. In most cases it’s not a cause for concern at all and it will be best if you just leave your dog as he is. You don’t like to be touched when your sleeping either so why would you then wake up your dog over something so insignificant? It’s perfectly normal and fine.