Why Does My Puppy Twitch While Sleeping?

Once in a while my Puppy twitches while sleeping, I keep wondering what causes twitching in puppies. For a while, I thought the puppy is in deep sleep and dreaming about chasing something. Her eyes, lips, and feet move, doesn’t scare me but keep me an edge to find out answers.

Researchers and Veterinarians have been studying the sleep behavior and they have answered multiple of my questions, to be fortunate nothing to worry. It’s quite normal behavior if it lasts for a few seconds or she gets up normal when you call her name.

Puppy Twitch

why puppy twitches in her sleep?

There are three stages of sleep even for puppies according to vetstreet website

  • NREM Non- Rapid Eye Movement
  • REM Rapid Eye Movement
  • SWS Short Wave Sleep

During REM stage the puppies dream, so less likely to sleep. During this stage, they twitch in their sleep. So a shaking pup is often not a concern. Puppies shiver and shake while sleeping. But its always good to keep an eye on them.

Many people believe that dogs do dream. Most dog owners have noticed that at various times during their sleep, some dogs may quiver, make leg twitches or may even growl or snap at some sleep-created phantom, giving the impression that they are dreaming about something. At the structural level, the brains of dogs are similar to those of humans. Also, during sleep the brain wave patterns of dogs are similar that of people, and go through the same stages of electrical activity observed in humans, all of which is consistent with the idea that dogs are dreaming

Like us, even puppies dream. During REM stage puppies are less likely to be in deep sleep. Sometimes during sleep, they shiver, twitch or even vocalize. When puppies sleep they go to REM sleep where there is rapid eye movement after about 20 minutes according to Health24 website. It’s during these times that puppies probably shiver or respond to dreams. There are various reasons to watch out for.

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The old saying: “let sleeping dogs lie” was said for good reason!

Puppy Shivering to watch out for

Due to Cold

When you are cold, then your puppy does feel the same. Puppies have a very thin line of the coat to protect them from very cold weather.
Always keep your pup warm, either by keeping the room warm or giving a blanket. It can pose a big problem if your pup is in freezing conditions for an extended period.

A sudden change in the Environment

Change in the environment causes stress in puppies. Situations like first time riding in the car, loud noise by fireworks, going to Vet. If the puppy will be shivering after having the bad experiences, so it’s our job to calm her down. Always good to keep your puppy next to you, when she is experiencing the stress. This will impact during sleep too. Do not pat her while she is sleeping and twitching. Just keep a warm cloth on her, to keep her warm and make her comfortable.

Sickness or pain

If the shiver is for a prolonged period along with puppy crying, then you got to worry. Immediate attention should be given immediate attention. The puppy will be in pain, it may lead to lack of appetite.
If the puppy is shivering or trembling and lethargic, it can be distemper. If you have skipped her vaccines please visit the doctor earliest. Puppies can be very vulnerable, always watch out for their well being.

Is my puppy dreaming or having a seizure?

Knowledge about twitching in puppies is very much essential for the owner to differentiate between twitching by dream and seizures. There are some characteristics traits associated, so let’s look at the two conditions.

  1. Puppies always are sleeping and lying down when they dream. When the puppies are unconscious and trembling then its seizure. Puppies can get seizures during the sleep too due to illness.
  2. Puppies during seizures will be tensed and stiff. Check their eyes, they will be wide open and have the blank look on their face. But during normal conditions, they will peaceful and relaxed. Also, the eyes are partially closed
  3. A sleeping puppy that is dreaming may cry out once or twice or give occasional short barks. When a seizing puppy 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.
  4. Dreaming puppies often twitch, shake, paddle and kick with their legs as if they are running in place or chasing a bunny. Puppies having seizures tend to be stiffer and more rigid.
  5. The motions of a puppy that is dreaming usually are intermittent and brief, while seizure activity typically lasts longer.
  6. Puppies can easily be awakened when they are dreaming during sleep. Seizures cannot be interrupted.
  7. Seizures typically involve violent muscle activity, uncontrollable shaking and thrashing about. The movements associated with dreaming are more gentle and shorter-lasting. The sleeping puppy’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.
  8. Puppies often have trouble walking after they have a seizure. They usually don’t have this problem after waking up from a dream.
  9. Most Puppies are disoriented and confused following a seizure. They are not disoriented or confused when they wake up from a dream.
  10. Puppies frequently bite their tongue, foam at the mouth and drool during a seizure. Dreaming Puppies rarely show these signs.
  11. Puppies may vomit, urinate and/or defecate during a seizure. This doesn’t happen in puppies that are dreaming.
  12. Dreaming puppies breathe normally. Puppies that are seizing tend to have labored breathing.
  13. Seizures often happen when a puppy is excited, although they also can occur during sleep. Dreams only happen when a puppy is sleeping and relaxed.
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The last thing is if you are not sure about seizure or dream, please videotape it and send it to your veterinarian as soon as possible.

“There is also evidence that they dream about common dog activities…The dogs only started to move when the brain entered that stage of sleep associated with dreaming. During the course of a dream episode, these dogs actually began to execute the actions that they were performing in their dreams.” Stanley Coren, PhD., DSc., FRSC, is Professor Emeritus in the Department of Psychology at the University of British Columbia for Psychology Today.

Puppies Sleeping conditions

Puppies always require a lot of time to sleep, around 15 to 20 hrs a day. A lot of rest keeps them healthy. If you see them shivering while sleeping, just call out her name.

Do not ever touch them while twitching or trembling, an unintended bite can happen. This is not good for any household,  so be sure to explain to children that waking up a puppy is not safe.

Also, it’s not a good idea to wake up in the middle of a dream, so just leave your puppy to sleep.

The old saying: “let sleeping dogs lie” was said for good reason!