Dogs twitch in their sleep either because they are dreaming or because they’re suffering from a seizure caused by an underlying medical condition.
Your Dog Is Having A Dream
Dogs, just like humans, are capable of dreaming. And the most probable reason your canine buddy has been twitching and shaking so much in its sleep is that it has a dream.
A dog’s sleep is typically divided into two main stages – the Rapid Eye Movement (REM) sleep and the non-Rapid Eye Movement Sleep (non-REM).
During the REM sleep period, and just as the name suggests, a dog typically experiences quick eye movements, and the pooch’s brain behaves as though it were awake – this is the period where dogs have dreams and twitch in their sleep.
Now, it is difficult to say with certainty what the contents of a dog’s dreams or nightmares are, but researchers have speculated that a dog’s dreams are usually linked to breed-related activities, as well as actions carried out by the pooch during the day or about their favorite things.
Also, for reasons yet to be uncovered, it has been discovered that sleep twitching is more commonly observed in puppies and senior dogs, compared to active adult dogs. And it has been speculated that this phenomenon is due to the fact that certain parts of a puppy’s brainstem, specifically the medulla and pons, lack development.
Underlying Medical Conditions
As much as twitching while sleeping is a sign that your pooch is dreaming, there’s a chance that your pooch’s twitches and shakes are due to an underlying medical condition.
Sleep twitches caused by medical conditions are not only dangerous to a pooch because of the underlying diseases, but most times, they interfere greatly with a dog’s sleep, thereby resulting in a decline in the dog’s health.
That said, some of the medical conditions that may cause a dog to twitch while sleeping include:
Similarly, if your dog has ingested harmful toxins while awake, it is possible for these toxins to kick in when the pooch is asleep, thereby resulting in sleep twitching and shaking.