Pet parents are used to seeing their pup sleep most of the day. But when a dog sleeps with eyes open, that can be a little unsettling. Is there any significance to your dog’s behavior? Is your dog simply dreaming while sleeping, or is there something wrong?
Here’s a look at a dog’s typical sleep pattern, and whether sleeping with each eyelid open is a cause for concern.
It’s not at all unusual for a dog to sleep anywhere from 12 to 14 hours each day. A puppy will often need 18-20 hours of sleep each day. Puppies often need to recoup after an exhausting day of playing, exploring your home and your backyard, or spending hours with a dog trainer. That’s a lot of hard work for a little pup.
Many adult dogs, especially older dogs, need even more rest because they tire more easily. Bigger breeds tend to snooze more than smaller breeds.
As it turns out, what a dog is bred to do can have a big impact on whether they sleep a lot. For example, a dog from working or hunting breeds (such as the Great Danes, Boxers, or Beagles) may stay awake longer. This is because they’re bred for certain tasks that require them to stay alert.1
Eating patterns can also affect how easily your dog can fall asleep. If your pet eats dog food once a day, they may take fewer naps. Dogs who eat twice a day may get to bed earlier, wake up earlier, and take more naps.2
Typical Sleeping Patterns For Dogs
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.3
Sleeping With Eyes Open
So, your dog seems snug in bed and seems to be sleeping peacefully. But your pet’s eyes are open. What’s going on here? Is this normal, or do you need to take your pet to see the veterinarian?
Most of the time, there’s nothing to worry about. Your pet might not look normal, but this doesn’t mean there is something wrong. If your dog’s eyes are open, and they’re snoozing away, there’s no need to wake them from their slumber.
When Open Eyes Are A Problem
There are very rare instances, however, where a dog who seems asleep is actually having a seizure. This problem, which affects the brain, can occur due to illness – or could be hereditary. A seizure is different from the normal twitching of legs that a dog may do while dreaming. Knowing the difference is important.
If a dog is experiencing a seizure, their eyes will typically be wide open. Your pet may appear to have a blank stare or exhibit odd eye movements. If the dog is just twitching, each eyelid will be partially closed. Your pet will look relaxed.
Although this is a rare instance usually seen in combination with other medical conditions, you should see your vet immediately if you have any reason to suspect your pup is having seizures.4
Keep an Eye On Your Pet
Yes, it’s strange to see your dog snoozing with their eyes open. But if your pet’s eyelids don’t close all the way during sleep, it’s usually not a cause for concern. If their eyes are wide open and they have a blank stare, they might be having a seizure. If you’re not sure, or if your pet shows signs of sleep apnea, sleep deprivation or other troublesome sleeping habits, it’s time to call the vet.
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