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Why Does My Dog Sleep With Eyes Open? (2024)

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dog sleeps with eyes openCurious why your pup sleeps with eyes open? You’re not alone. It’s a common phenomenon that can leave many dog owners wondering, “What gives?” While it may seem like there could be something wrong, dogs sleeping with their eyes open is usually nothing to worry about.

In fact, it has more to do with the way they are naturally wired than any health issues or behavioral concerns.

Key Takeaways

  • Partial eye closure during sleep is a normal canine behavior that allows for environmental monitoring and situational awareness.
  • Certain breeds, such as short-muzzled and brachycephalic dogs, may have difficulty fully closing their eyes due to their anatomy.
  • Abnormal symptoms to watch out for include disorientation, unresponsiveness to stimuli, redness/swelling around the eyes, and difficulty walking or standing after waking up.
  • Open-eyed sleep in dogs can be a sign of stress, anxiety, or fear, and should be monitored for any underlying medical causes.

Why Do Dogs Sleep With Their Eyes Open?

Why Do Dogs Sleep With Their Eyes Open
You may notice your beloved pet dozing lightly while keeping a watchful eye open – an evolutionary instinct to protect from danger even in slumber. It turns out that dogs sleeping with their eyes open is actually quite common and can be attributed to various underlying conditions or natural behaviors.

In fact, it’s normal for a dog’s eyes to remain partially opened during REM sleep as they’re still monitoring their environment subconsciously. Moreover, short-muzzled breeds such as Pugs are prone to having difficulty fully closing their eyelids due to the size of their eyes being too large for the lids themselves! This could explain why you’ve caught sight of them seemingly half asleep but with wide-open peepers occasionally throughout the day.

However, if there is any cause for concern regarding this behavior, then it might be worth consulting your veterinarian immediately since some medical issues like narcolepsy or seizures can manifest themselves through symptoms such as falling asleep suddenly and unexpectedly or disorientation after waking up, respectively, which should not go unchecked by professional carers.

Similarly, redness, irritation, swelling in one’s eye region needs further examination because these symptoms are often indicative of infection.

It pays off immensely going into regular check-ups at veterinary clinics so that potential health problems don’t slip under your radar given how easily something serious can arise without warning signs.

Also, bear in mind that frequent grooming sessions provide more than just aesthetic benefits: cleaning ears, teeth, nails, etc.

When to Be Worried About Dogs That Sleep With Their Eyes Open

When to Be Worried About Dogs That Sleep With Their Eyes Open
It’s important to pay attention if your pet is dozing off while keeping one eye open, as this could indicate an underlying condition or evolutionary behavior. Wild animals need situational awareness, and the same protective instinct remains in our house pets.

Hence, their eyes might be partially open when they sleep. This is called the nictitating membrane, a clear third eyelid that covers part of the eye.

If there are any concerning symptoms such as disorientation after waking up, redness, or irritation around the eyes, then it would be wise to consult with a veterinarian immediately. These signs could signify something more serious like narcolepsy or seizures that require treatment right away.

Monthly visits are ideal for whole body checks, and grooming sessions should not go overlooked either.

When assessing sleeping habits, it’s always prudent to monitor the frequency of wide-eyed consciousness throughout day/night time activities. This will help distinguish between normal behaviors versus those associated with medical reasons.

Video recordings can come in handy here too, so you don’t miss anything potentially vital during vet visit(s).

Why Does My Dog Sleep With Open Eyes?

Why Does My Dog Sleep With Open Eyes
Your pup may have a protective instinct to stay partially aware while sleeping, as evolutionary adaptations suggest that wild animals need situational awareness. One study even found that up to half of all birds can sleep with one eye open! While house pets retain this same watchful eye, certain breeds may be more prone due to having short muzzles and eyes too big for their head size.

When the third eyelid is present — also known as the nictitating membrane — it provides protection from dryness or infection of the eyes when closed.

If your pup sleeps with its eyes barely open often enough for you to notice, it could signify something else entirely – such as narcolepsy or seizures – so don’t wait on taking them in for a checkup if any other concerning symptoms arise.

Like disorientation after waking up, redness around their peepers, or difficulty walking once they’re awake again.

It’s also important to capture these behaviors on video because not only will it give your vet an idea of what kind of movements are involved (violent vs mild), but you’ll likely see signs beforehand such as darting/shaking eyes which could point towards seizure activity rather than just regular slow-wave sleep behavior! In addition, capturing videos helps show how easily awakened and normal upon waking they really are– valuable information during assessment time.

Finally, keep a close eye (no pun intended) out for anything strange that stands out: frequency rate at which your pup sleeps with its eye(s) slightly opened, twitching legs during REM stages, etc.

Should I Be Concerned My Dog Sleeps With Its Eyes Open?

Should I Be Concerned My Dog Sleeps With Its Eyes Open
Be alert to the frequency of your pup’s partially open-eyed dozing, as it may be a sign of something more serious like narcolepsy or seizures. If you notice this happening often enough for concern, take your pup in for a checkup and capture any abnormal behavior on video.

Here are 5 things to look out for:

  1. No response when you call their name.
  2. Redness around the eyes.
  3. Rapid eye movements.
  4. Unexpected sleep while active.
  5. Disorientation after waking up.

As a pup parent, it’s important to monitor these behaviors so that if there is an underlying medical issue, it can be addressed quickly before further complications arise! Signs such as darting eyes could indicate seizure activity rather than just regular slow-wave sleep behavior – try not to dismiss them unless they recur during different stages of sleep or deep periods where nothing else wakes them up easily anymore!

While normal every once in a while (especially during REM), frequent episodes with little stimuli required should raise some red flags worth discussing with your vet at their next routine visit – especially since certain breeds like Dobermans are prone to narcolepsy, which disrupts normal wake/sleep cycles resulting in sudden shut-eye accompanied by swollen irises!

By keeping track and being mindful now, it will help ensure long-term health benefits later down the road too – so don’t forget what’s most important here: taking care of our furry friends through thick n’ thin times ahead!

Is There Anything I Can Do?

Is There Anything I Can Do
You can take proactive steps to protect your pup’s eye health by regularly cleaning their eyes and ensuring a healthy diet with vitamins. As a caring pet parent, be observant of any signs of irritation in your dog’s eyes, like redness, swelling, or discharge.

Big eyes on short-muzzled breeds are prone to conditions, so gently wipe around the eyes daily with a soft, damp cloth to prevent infection.

Check for foreign objects like dirt or eyelashes that could scratch their cornea.

Schedule an appointment if you notice persistent squinting, vision trouble, or violent movements like your pup has lost consciousness. This could indicate a serious issue requiring medication. Likewise, get medical attention promptly if your pup has trouble walking or seems disoriented upon waking – it may point to seizures or neurological problems.

Capture any abnormal sleep behaviors on video to help the vet diagnose properly.

Through attentive care, you can keep those beautiful dog eyes healthy and free of distress. Don’t hesitate to consult your veterinarian if symptoms arise – early treatment is key! With some simple cleaning and care, your four-legged friend will continue lighting up your life with their loving gaze.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Are Certain Breeds More Likely to Sleep With Their Eyes Open?

Certain breeds, like Dobermans, seem more prone to sleeping with their eyes open due to narcolepsy. But any pup can doze off and partially awaken — an evolutionary trait for protection! If your furry friend’s snoozing habits worry you, see the vet and keep those peepers healthy.

Could Open-Eyed Sleep Indicate a Health Problem?

Open-eyed sleep can indicate a health problem. It’s important to watch for signs of disorientation, red eyes or eye discharge, and violent movements after waking.

Are There Long-Term Effects of Open-Eyed Sleep?

Open-eyed sleep can affect your pup’s long-term health if left unchecked. Red, swollen eyes and disorientation upon waking are signs of a problem and should be brought to the vet’s attention. Regular checkups help keep an eye on any potential issues before they become serious.

Could Open-Eyed Sleep Be a Sign of Stress?

Yes, open-eyed sleep can be a sign of stress. Recent studies show that up to 40% of dogs exhibit this behavior when under pressure. Monitor your pup for signs such as twitching or darting eyes and unresponsiveness – it could indicate the need for additional support.

Before intervening, check with your vet to ensure underlying conditions aren’t causing the issue.

Is Open-Eyed Sleep Normal for Puppies?

Open-eyed sleep is normal for puppies, but it could be a sign of stress if they are easily startled when awake. Monitor their behavior carefully and visit the vet if you notice any redness or swelling in the eyes.


It’s normal for dogs to sleep with their eyes open occasionally, but if your dog is doing so regularly, it’s important to take notice. Take, for example, Max, a Doberman Pinscher who was sleeping with his eyes open more often and having difficulty staying awake during the day.

After visiting the vet, Max was diagnosed with narcolepsy, a sleep disorder that affects his sleep-wake cycle.

It’s important to pay attention to your dog’s sleep patterns, as well as any abnormal behavior they may be exhibiting. If your dog is sleeping with their eyes open more often than usual, it’s best to take them to the vet for a checkup.

If your dog is frequently sleeping with their eyes open, the vet may recommend further testing to diagnose a potential sleep disorder or underlying eye condition.

With proper care and attention, your dog can live a happy and healthy life.

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Mutasim Sweileh

Mutasim is the founder and editor-in-chief with a team of qualified veterinarians, their goal? Simple. Break the jargon and help you make the right decisions for your furry four-legged friends.