ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

Why do dogs twitch in their sleep?

Updated on July 7, 2009

Dogs are lucky animals. Dogs are noted to be the most loved and cared for pets. If you are one of the owners that can’t seem to take his eyes away from the dog, you surely have watched your pet sleep. You certainly have noticed that the pet would do some involuntary actions while sleeping. The dog may pedal its feet for a while or snap its teeth at imaginary insects. The dog may also twitch in their sleep. The dog that is sleeping peacefully would twitch… stop… and twitch again after a few seconds. Caring pet owner that you are, you will certainly be apprehensive. What is wrong with the pet? Is my poor baby seizing?

Click thumbnail to view full-size

Twitching vs. Seizing

Twitching and seizing are both involuntary movements. Twitching though is a normal movement of dogs that would not need a vet’s attention. Have you ever experienced the feeling of falling from heights or even from the bed when you are sleeping? The sensation of falling would cause you to twitch. Pretty much the same thing happens to dogs as well. Twitching is a reflex action to stop the fall. The twitching can be misconstrued as   seizure. In both situations, the dog would twitch or tremble. A seizing dog though would have stiff movements. The big difference is that a seizing dog will be unresponsive to the owner’s voice or touch.

The dog is dreaming

The sleeping pattern of dogs is very similar to what we humans have. When they sleep, dog too go through the non-rapid eye movement (NREM) and the rapid eye movement (REM). Dogs though go through an additional phase when they sleep…the short wave sleep (SWS). This is the phase where the dog starts to breath heavily to enter the rapid eye movement phase. In the REM phase, the dog would be sleeping deeply. It is in this phase that the dog will dream and twitch. It is believed that the dog is acting out the dream so that it would yelp, growl and twitch.

A reflex action

Twitching can be a reflex action very similar to involuntary knee jerking when the doctor taps the knee. Because dogs are much loved pets it would not be uncommon to pet the sleeping dog. Some parts of the dog’s body may be sensitive to being touched. Twitching is a reflex action to the touch.

A sign of medical concern

Twitching when sleeping can be a sign of distemper. Constant twitching is commonly seen when distemper is on its advance stage. This means that the neurological system of the pet is already affected. The pet must be rushed to a veterinary facility.

my dog twitching while hes sleeping

Dog having a nightmare and twitching

Dog Twitching in Sleep


    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    • profile image


      5 years ago

      My dog twitches his legs, then stops and makes weird noices with his mouth and eye lids. Idk if he is having night mares or just dreaming.

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      My dog seems to twich when he sleeps then he stops he always twitches his legs

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      Humans too have Slow Wave Sleep.

      SWS consists of stages three and four nREM.

      It is not an 'additional' stage present in dogs, rather, another name for stages 3 & 4 sleep that is also present in humans.

      In humans, REM causes muscle paralysis, to stop us acting out our dreams. Dogs also experience atonia. Perhaps the argument for dogs dreaming causing the twitching is not plausible.


    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

    Show Details
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)