Facts about the animal kingdom

My Dog Sleeps With Their Eyes Open

Josie F. Turner
By Josie F. Turner, Journalist specialized in Animal Welfare. Updated: February 28, 2024
My Dog Sleeps With Their Eyes Open

See files for Dogs

Whether we like it or not, dogs will not keep the same sleep schedule as their human guardians. While this can be disruptive if they are making noise when we are trying to sleep, it actually offers us an opportunity to observe them. A dog's health and well-being can be assessed in many ways and watching them while they sleep is one of the them. If they are restless, sleeping in odd positions, making strange noises or showing other possible symptoms of a problem, we should take the opportunity to take them for a checkup.

One sign which can be a little confusing is when your dog sleeps with their eyes open. If you have noticed this happens with your dog, you will want to know why they sleep like this and what you should do about it. Fortunately, AnimalWised has the answers.

You may also be interested in: Why Do Cats Sleep With Their Eyes Open?
  1. How do dogs sleep?
  2. Why does my dog sleep with their eyes open?
  3. How do I know if my dog is sleeping well?
  4. Tips for help your dog sleep well

How do dogs sleep?

You may have seen your dog sleeping in different positions and postures. These different sleeping positions of dogs can actually tell us a lot about their well-being and the type of sleep they are experiencing. We can make similar observations about how we humans sleep, but there are important differences. Perhaps the most important difference in sleeping behavior between humans and dogs is to do with sleep patterns.

While many of us will have a nap from time to time, humans usually sleep for one extended period during a given day (most often at night time). Dogs will sleep intermittently throughout the day. They don't have the same schedule as we do and they don't have to hunt for food and search for shelter in the same manner as wild dogs.

As with humans, dogs have different types of sleep which come in phases. These include light sleep and deep REM sleep phases. The latter only occurs in about 10% of their total sleep throughout the day, but it is vital for their well-being as it helps to assimilate their experiences. A dog's sleep is more sensitive and they can be easily disturbed, something related to their wild ancestry since dogs in the wild need to be more aware of their environment.

How much and for how long a dog will sleep depends on various factors. Dogs which have more energy and higher activity levels may not sleep as much, but will need to recharge more often. Breed, age and diet can also impact the quality of a dog's sleep.

How many hours does a dog sleep per day?

Since dog's will vary according to the individual how much sleep they will need, dogs can sleep between 10 and 20 hours per day. This cumulative amount is tallied from different naps and sleeps throughout the day.

Why does my dog sleep with their eyes open?

Dogs sometimes sleep with their eyes open or half-open, but generally this is no reason to be alarmed. As mentioned above, dogs in the wild will need to sleep in a way which keeps them safe. Predators, human intrusion, weather and other dangers are present in their environment. The deeper and longer they sleep, the more susceptible they are to these dangers.

When a dog snoozes, they may be resting, but they will only be in a period of light sleep. They have developed a way of resting to restore energy, but they can keep their eyes open or half-open to maintain awareness of their environment. It is a completely normal and instinctive behavior which is shared by domestic dogs. They may also move their eyes or blink slowly to avoid them drying out.

Although there is no need to worry in most cases, there are some rare occurrences when sleeping with their eyes open can be an indicator of a problem. One way we can tell if there is a problem is by looking at the dilation of their pupils When pupils are relaxed, they are just dozing. If a dog's eyes are open and their pupils are fixed and dilated, it could be a sign they are having a seizure.

If your dog is having a seizure when they sleep, we will need to remain calm. Make sure they are in a safe place and are not going to fall or get hurt, but do not intervene or move them unless they are in immediate danger. The seizure should pass. Once it does, take them to a veterinarian to discuss the causes and treatment of a dog having seizures.

My dog moves their eyes when sleeping

Have you ever observed that your dog moves their eyes in strange ways? When a dog is falling asleep or is already sleeping soundly, they often roll their eyes. If this happens, you don't need to do anything. This typically occurs when the dog is sleeping in a way that their skin pulls their eyelid open a little. The white of the eye might appear for a moment and leave again.

Another reason your dog is moving their eyes is because they are trying to stay awake, but are too tired to do so. It often happens to us when we are dozing. Finally, if we see our dog moving their eyes under their eyelids, then it is a sign they are having a deep sleep. REM stands for rapid eye movement, so their eyes can look like they are darting under their eyelids, but it is perfectly normal.

My Dog Sleeps With Their Eyes Open - Why does my dog sleep with their eyes open?

How do I know if my dog is sleeping well?

Sufficient deep sleep is essential for a dog's well-being. During REM sleep, what they have experienced previously is assimilated and processed cognitively. For this reason, it is believed that dogs do dream. It is possible for them to have a restless sleep, something which can be seen if they are moving a lot or sighing when they sleep. It is possible the dog is having nightmares, but they may also be having any kind of dream.

Dogs are similar to children in that we shouldn't wake them when they are asleep. They need to rest to be in a good mood and exert energy the rest of the day. If the dog does not get enough sleep, they can be lethargic and even grumpy. A dog which sleeps well will be happier and more balanced.

If your dog is sleeping poorly, it can also have a detrimental effect on their physical health. For this reason, there are some things we can do to help your dog sleep better.

My Dog Sleeps With Their Eyes Open - How do I know if my dog is sleeping well?

Tips for help your dog sleep well

  • Physical and mental exercise: physical activity helps your dog or puppy to rest and relax. However, our dogs also need to be cognitively stimulated to avoid frustration and hyperactivity in dogs. We can do this through training, education and the use of intelligence games.
  • Avoid stress: If your dog sleeps poorly or just doesn't want to sleep, he may be stressed. Nervous dogs need a fixed, safe, dark, and distraction-free place to sleep.
  • Have a routine: dogs are creatures of habit. By giving providing them with their basic needs at the same time, they can create a routine which helps them feel secure. Regulated feeding, walking and bed times helps to avoid anxiety.
  • Comfortable bed: it is also important that you provide a comfortable place for your dog to sleep. There are different beds for dogs, so our advice is to find the right one for your canine's specific needs.

If you want to read similar articles to My Dog Sleeps With Their Eyes Open, we recommend you visit our Facts about the animal kingdom category.

Write a comment
Add an image
Click to attach a photo related to your comment
What did you think of this article?
1 of 3
My Dog Sleeps With Their Eyes Open