You know this situation all too well – you look over at your dog, taking his usual afternoon nap, when you see him start to shiver and tremble. Like any good owner, your mind goes through a litany of possibilities; Oh, the dog’s fine, he’s just dreaming…or is there something wrong? Nah, he’s fine….OR IS HE?
Dog ownership can be a nerve-wracking experience, especially when your dog does things like shaking in his sleep, especially when you don’t know what causes it. There’s good news and bad news – your dog’s sleepytime shaking could mean any number of things. Luckily, we’re here to break some of those down for you so you can make the best decision for your dog.
Why is My Puppy Shaking While Sleeping?
A dog who shakes while he sleeps could be doing so for a variety of reasons. First, your dog might actually be in pain; this is common in older dogs, as canine arthritis could have set in, or in dogs that have been hurt or injured recently. In these cases, the pain is just the dog’s soreness or aching bones making them shake a bit.
However, your dog might also be ill – distemper can cause trembling in dogs when they’re both asleep and awake. Luckily, you’ll be able to see other symptoms in dogs with distemper, such as a detectable fever and leaky nose and eyes. If your dog doesn’t have these symptoms, distemper is likely out of the equation.
Even worse is the possibility of your dog suffering an epileptic seizure – while this may be a concern, they typically only happen when the dog is conscious.
Should I Take My Dog to the Vet if He’s Shaking While Sleeping?
Dogs can also tremble when they have nausea, which could come from their medication, overfeeding, or motion sickness in the car. Kidney and liver disease can also lead to nausea, however, so if the symptoms persist (such as smacking their lips, overswallowing, vomiting and more) you might want to take him to the vet.
As a general rule, be sure to consult your vet in any and all concerns with your pet – you never want to be too sure. However, you can gauge this in the case of shaking: look for other symptoms to make sure that your dog doesn’t have something else going on. Absolutely take your dog to the vet if your dog is also limping, vomiting or experiencing diarrhea.
Could Shaking Be Totally Fine?
Reading this article, the hypochondriac in you might just be scared stiff – what if my dog has ALL of these things? Well, it’s time for a little reassurance: many dogs just tremble for perfectly innocuous reasons. For instance, if your dog is cold, trembling and shaking is a totally normal way for your dog to keep his body warm.
Even more innocently, your dog might just be shaking because he’s dreaming! When dogs dream, they will often move their legs as if they’re running, and offer twitches and shakes in response to what they are dreaming about.
This is evidence that they are deep in rapid eye movement (REM) sleep. If you can, without disturbing your dog, take a peek to see if their eyes are visibly moving behind their closed lids. This is a good indicator that they’re just chasing mailmen in Dreamland.
A shaking dog is often not a cause for concern – dogs can shiver and shake for all kinds of reasons, many of which are perfectly innocuous. However, it is always a good idea to be mindful and check in with your dog to see how they’re doing. If you do see any of the aforementioned other symptoms, it is a great idea to take them in to your vet to see whether or not the shaking is an indicator of something more serious.
In the meantime, the next time your puppy shakes while they sleep, make sure they have a blanket nearby with which to keep warm. Otherwise, just sit back, relax, and enjoy the adorable sight of your dog kicking and running in his sleep.