My Dog Sleeps With Its Eyes Open – Should I Be Worried?

Should dogs sleep with its eyes open? Seems like it can’t be possible, but you might have noticed your dog deep in dreamland but yet with eyes a little open. Before you get completely freaked out and race to the vet with your dog, let’s investigate what causes this.

Why Does It Happen?

Basically it’s a type of defense mechanism that dates back to your doggy’s wild heritage. Back in the day, dogs needed to be on constant alert to ensure their survival. So evolution gave them the ability to sleep with their eyes open, and some dogs still have this super power.

Are There Any Other Reasons For This?

Why does my dog sleep with its eyes open? Open eyes and severe twitching can be a sign of a seizure. But if your dog is simply twitching lightly, the dog is probably just having a dream of chasing the neighbor’s cat or digging for some bones. There’s a big difference between twitching and convulsing.

The big difference can be spotted by carefully looking at your dog’s eyes. If the dog is simply dreaming, its eyes may be open a little bit, but the dog will look peaceful and relaxed. This happens when your dog moves into the REM sleep phase. If you feel concerned, call your dog’s name in a quiet voice. If the dog is simply dreaming, it will snap out of it and continue sleeping normally.

You need to become concerned when your dog’s twitching becomes severe and it is staring blankly into space and not responding when you call its name. When a seizure occurs, there’s nothing you can do to help your dog, except make sure that it is comfortable. You have to wait for it to pass over. Your dog might also start moaning or howling when a seizure occurs.

Related: Why Is My Dog Shaking Its Head So Much?

What to Do When a Seizure Occurs

If the open eyes plus twitching seems like a seizure there are a few steps you can follow to help your dog. Firstly, do not try to wake your dog up, you won’t be able to. Rather make sure that there are no objects close by that could hurt your dog during the seizure.

Once the seizure passes over, make sure you keep your emotional reaction neutral. Overreacting in this moment will simply worsen the situation. Gently soothe your dog, giving it lots of TLC. You will need to make an urgent appointment at the vet to investigate what caused the seizure.

Why Does My Dog Sleep With Its Eyes Open

A Seizure vs A Dream

The main way to tell the difference, is looking at your dog’s eyes. As mentioned above, a dreaming dog will simply look peaceful. If it’s a seizure, the dog will have a scary blank stare. When your dog’s eyes are open during normal sleeping, the eyes will only be open partially. During a seizure, the eyes will be wide open. If you suspect your dog is having a seizure, make sure that you monitor it until the seizure passes.

While dreaming your dog might make a few small yips or a short bark. A seizure will cause your dog to moan, howl or even make a screaming sound. If you start feeling concerned about your dog’s behavior, rather make an appointment with your vet for a checkup.

During a dream you will notice your dog twitching or shaking, almost as if it is running in one spot. A dog’s movements are much more rigid and stiff during a seizure. You will be able to easily wake up your dog from a dreaming session by simply calling its name. If it’s a seizure, you won’t be able to wake your dog from it.

Once your dog wakes up from a dream, the dog will be fully alert. After a seizure your dog will seem disoriented and confused. During a seizure you will see foam at your dog’s mouth, it will be drooling excessively and possibly also bite down on its tongue. While sleeping you will notice your dog’s breathing remaining normal. With the onset of a seizure, your dog’s breathing will become heavy and difficult.

Trust your gut feeling when you are trying to figure out whether your dog is simply dreaming or if it is having a seizure. A dog’s dreaming state is similar to a human’s, peaceful. To see your dog having a seizure is a frightening experience.

Conclusion: Why Does My Dog Sleep With Its Eyes Open? 

If you regularly notice your dog sleeping with its eyes half open, this is simply a sign that your dog is one of the special ones that still has a strong link to its primal heritage. You can gently wake up your dog if you feel worried that it might be a sign of possible seizure disorder.

But in general it only means your dog is enjoying dreamland. This said, it is best to not ignore troublesome signs. Rather stay on the safe side and take your dog for a checkup at the vet to rule out the possibility of a seizure disorder.

Why does my dog sleep with its eyes open? Most likely because millenniums ago it was a fierce hunter that had to be prepared for anything, at all times. This is a much less scary reason for the behavior. Luckily not all seizure disorders are life-threatening. Once you have visited your vet, you will be able to deal more effectively with the problem.

Your vet will be able to assess whether your dog needs chronic medication to keep the seizures under control. It is important to take your dog for a check-up after it had a seizure to rule out the possibility of a dangerous disorder.

It will feel very frustrating to not be able to help your dog during a seizure, but the best thing you can do, is to simply stay calm and assist your dog afterwards to recover from the scary moment. Read this article to find out how to help a dog after a seizure.

Does your dog sleep with its eyes open? Is your dog one of the special ones still in tune with its primal nature, or did you discover a more troublesome reason for the habit?