Can Dogs Get Sleep Paralysis? Causes, Symptoms, Treatment, and Prevention

Dogs usually need a nap of 12 to 14 hours a day, including daytime and night time sleep. Sleep, like humans, is a source of removing tiredness in your dogs. Dogs who get enough sleep are more energetic than dogs who don’t get enough sleep.

You will observe that the dogs who have short sleeping times or cannot sleep properly, waking up at midnight, are more sluggish and tired than those who get proper rest. Sleep deprivation or sleep disorders in dogs can cause many stress hormones in your dog that worsen your dog’s situation and health.

The dog may cry, whine, behave weirdly, or can be more aggressive. There are many sleep disorders in dogs, but here in this article, we will know if the dogs suffer from sleep paralysis or not. The article talks about sleep paralysis. Whether the dog experiences sleep paralysis or not, and further information.

What is Sleep Paralysis?

What is Sleep Paralysis
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Dogs also suffer from some sleep disorders that humans go through. For example, sleep paralysis is when your dog is involved in a mixed state of consciousness while sleeping, which is considered abnormal.

In this case, the dog may suffer from Antonia. Antonia is referred to as a loss of muscle tone. Antonia is usually observed when the dog begins to walk after sleeping or immediately after sleeping. In this condition of sleep paralysis, your dog may also experience hallucination or suffocation.

Sleep paralysis is connected to rapid eye movement (REM) sleep, and this sleep is characteristic of vivid dreaming. During sleep paralysis, the person or dog is very well aware of the things around it, but the atonia restricts the movement of the dog, and it acts out of the dream.

The hallucinations the dog may suffer can be either vestibular or motor types that include out-of-body sensations. For example, flying, intruders hallucination (creating the sensation of a dangerous person or thing in the room), chest pressure hallucination, or suffocation are all hallucinations. There is nothing true in this, and they are just imaginations; therefore, these all refer to hallucinations.

The hallucination episode in the dog’s mind may last up to 29 minutes. In more than 75% of cases, these hallucinations are not always something scary; a few can be pleasant.

Like humans, dogs also dream during rapid eye movement sleep (REM) or non-rapid eye movement sleep (NREM) and that is common for dogs. However, the dreams in non-rapid eye movement sleep are not often recalled as they are dull.

Many researchers have proved that only during REM sleep does a person or dog get back into an awake state. This awakening in the REM stage is as the dreams in this sleep are more dangerous, vivid, and unusual.

Considering dogs’ sleep and dreams, dogs have fewer dreams in the REM cycle of their sleep. Therefore, dogs have dreams but fewer in the REM cycle, unlike humans, thus indicating fewer dangerous or vivid dreams.

Can Dogs Get Sleep Paralysis?

Can Dogs Get Sleep Paralysis
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Yes, indeed. Sleep paralysis is a condition of sleep abnormality in dogs. However, it is an uncommon occurrence; your dog jerks in its sleep when your dog relaxes: yelping or crying is common. It’s common for you to think at such a time that your dog may be suffering from any sleep disorder or sleep paralysis or not.

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Dogs usually suffer from muscle paralysis. In this condition of sleep, it isn’t easy to say whether they have sleep paralysis or not. Please have a look at this article and learn about the sleep paralysis condition in dogs. Sleep deprivation is usually due to sleep disorders or other things. Although sleep deprivation in your dog is rare, still sometimes dogs can suffer from this condition. Knowing whether your dog has sleep paralysis or not will be easier through this article.

What Are the Types of Sleep Paralysis?

Depending upon the underlying condition in dogs, sleep paralysis can be of two types, either isolated or recurrent. For example, if the underlying cause is some serious disease like narcolepsy, sleep paralysis in dogs will be recurrent. Otherwise, it is isolated sleep paralysis.

1. Isolated Sleep Paralysis

When the episodes are not due to an underlying disease like narcolepsy, the paralysis is isolated sleep paralysis. Usually, when the sleep paralysis term gets used, it refers to isolated sleep paralysis. Not only humans but dogs also suffer from this once in their lifetime.

2. Recurrent Sleep Paralysis

Recurrent sleep paralysis or recurrent isolated sleep paralysis is a parasomnia condition. A parasomnia condition refers to the events that occur while you wake up, are in a deep sleep, or just fall asleep.

Sleep Stages in Dogs

Sleep Stages in Dogs
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Sleep stages in dogs are no different than those in humans. Short wave sleep (SWS) and rapid eye movement (REM) sleep both are common stages of sleep in dogs and occur in all dogs. Usually, you will notice a dog’s sleep is REM or Rapid eye movement sleep when they sleep.

Most of the day of dogs gets spent sleeping and resting. 20% of their day, dogs spend being active and the other 30% on resting.

After falling into slumber, dogs usually move to REM sleep very soon. It usually takes dogs about 10 minutes to fall into REM sleep.

In dogs, during short-wave sleep, the dog’s heart rate decreases, and there is a decrease in its pulse breathing and a drop in the dog’s blood pressure. We typically spend 25% of our time in REM sleep when it comes to humans. But dogs don’t have a deep sleep. They are completely having on and off sleep, so they require more sleep than humans.

You will often notice your dog twitching, running, or yelping in their sleep. This behavior is the dog’s way of processing memories that they have gathered in the past.

Let’s get a bit more info about SWS sleep and REM sleep.

1. SWS Sleep (Short Wave Sleep)

SWS sleep, or short wave sleep, is part of Non-rapid eye movement (NREM) sleep. The dog will have high amplitude but low-frequency brain waves in this sleep. Short Wave sleep in dogs is further characterized mostly by the immobility of the body in the sleep, the body not being relaxed.

Whenever the dog falls asleep, you will first observe SWS sleep in your dog. In this stage of sleep, your dog’s body is not relaxed as there are active muscle tones, although the mental activity is quiet.

2. REM Sleep (Rapid Eye Movement Sleep)

When your dog sleeps after 10 to 20 minutes, the dog will enter REM or Rapid eye movement sleep. Then, the dog will stay for approximately 2 to 3 minutes in REM sleep. 

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The observant will notice the dog’s breathing getting irregular in this stage. In this stage, only in old dogs and puppies can the observant notice muscle twitching, plus the sleep paralysis mostly occurs in this stage as per studies.

Is it Possible For Dogs to Experience Muscle Paralysis While Asleep?

Is it Possible for Dogs to Experience Muscle Paralysis While Asleep
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Yes, it is possible that dogs suffer from muscle paralysis in sleep. The sleeping pattern of dogs is much like that of humans. As soon as the dogs fall asleep, they usually enter the REM sleep cycle. Therefore, when the dog sleeps, you may notice twitching or small movements in your dog at this time, usually after 10 to 30 minutes of your dog falling asleep.

This twitching and small movements in dogs are common in puppies or older dogs as their pons do not function normally.

The pons in the brainstem of the dog is mainly responsible for paralyzing large muscles in dogs at the time of sleep. But in the case of older dogs or puppies, these pons in the dog’s brainstem are not very functional, causing twitching in dogs. In the condition of sleep paralysis, consciousness returns much before the muscle paralysis lifts from the dog’s body.

Dr. Stanley Coren, Professor Emeritus of Psychology at the University of British Columbia, is the one who noticed that dogs escape the human condition of sleep paralysis, the condition that leads to sleep deprivation in humans commonly. Instead, dogs tend to sleep whenever they feel like it, so dogs usually can’t be sleep-deprived except in very few rare cases.

A study published in the Journal of Physiological Behavior in 1977 says that dogs spend only 12% of their sleep time in the REM sleep cycle. Not only this, but a dog’s slow-wave sleep was also higher than a human’s by 23 percent.

Also Read: Why Does My Dog Sleep On My Head?

What Kinds of Dogs Develops Sleep Paralysis?

Sleep paralysis in dogs may have many varied reasons. You may notice that your dog cannot move or speak for a few minutes after waking up or falling asleep. This behavior is the main symptom of sleep paralysis in dogs.

The dogs more prone to developing these disorders may have different problems. These symptoms include:

  • Lack of sleep
  • Changes in sleep schedules
  • Health issues
  • Excessive stress or excitement
  • Narcolepsy
  • Any medication side effects

What Are the Common Signs And Symptoms of Sleep Paralysis in Dogs?

What are the Common Signs and Symptoms of Sleep Paralysis in Dogs
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In sleep paralysis in dogs, the dog cannot move for a particular movement after sleep or in sleep.

The core symptoms are that the dog won’t be able to move for a few minutes when it falls asleep or when it wakes up immediately. Not only this, but other symptoms are also there that you can notice.

  • Dogs may have sensations and hypnagogic hallucinations.
  • Dogs may face difficulty while breathing.
  • The dog in this condition may not be able to move or speak during episodes.
  • Profound sweating and heavy breathing.
  • Muscle pain in dogs is common.
  • Dogs may suffer from suffocation from pressure in the chest.

What Are Narcolepsy And Cataplexy? How is it Related to Sleep Paralysis in Dogs?

Narcolepsy and cataplexy are sleeping disorders in dogs that may affect other sleeping patterns and also cause sleep paralysis in your dogs. These disorders are neurological disorders affecting the sleep of your dog.

It is normal for dogs to suffer from both narcolepsy and catalepsy. Narcolepsy is also commonly termed as “related to fleeting episodes.”

Narcolepsy causes various problems in dogs, including lack of consciousness, lack of energy, excessive sleep, or the brain getting tired immediately. The episodes of cataplexy are much like narcolepsy: brief and spontaneous.

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Cataplexy mainly refers to sudden atonia. In this, the dog may remain alert and follow the movement throughout the episode, which is brief and spontaneous mostly. In humans or dogs, mainly sleep paralysis has narcolepsy as the underlying cause.

How Do You Treat Dogs With Sleep Disorders Like Sleep Paralysis?

How do You Treat Dogs With Sleep Disorders Like Sleep Paralysis
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Treatment for any sleep disorder in dogs will vary depending on whether an underlying disorder causes it. In the case of insomnia, which is rare, the doctor performs urine tests, proper blood tests, etc., to find out if there’s any kidney disease, liver disease, or infection that causes the disorder.

To stop sleep disorders in dogs, you also need to check the dog’s weight. Obese dogs are most prone to sleep disorders such as sleep paralysis.

For narcolepsy, there is no definite treatment available. The owners should strictly take care of the dog’s surroundings. Also, notice if there is any factor that is inciting your dog.

Also, notice if the episode starts with your dog immediately after it gets exciting. The owners should minimize the things and surroundings that cause problems or excitement in dogs. The better option is to record the narcolepsy episode to ensure that this is not something more serious as a seizure.

As the veterinarian suggests, REM behavior or sleep paralysis in dogs can be improved by giving the dog anti-anxiety medications. Besides this, anecdotal evidence suggests that CBD oil helps reduce anxiety in dogs.

Studies and veterinarians also suggest that anti-seizure medications can help the dog with sleep paralysis as they contain potassium bromide, which helps to cure sleep paralysis.

For sleep disorder treatments, you can also ensure a good and comfortable bed for your dog to help them have a good sleep. Try to avoid any unusual things near the dog that might scare it.

Preventive Measures of Sleep Paralysis in Dogs

If the sleep paralysis in dogs is not due to any underlying diseases, it is necessary to monitor the quality of the dog’s life closely.

It is best to give your dog a healthy diet and make the dog go to the vet often for regular checkups.

The best preventive measures are to keep the dog’s environment safe and reduce the things that cause stress to the dog. Here are a few preventive measures to prevent sleep paralysis in dogs.

  • Reduce stress and over-excitement in your dog’s life.
  • Make your dog exercise regularly.
  • Keep track of the medications that you give your dog.
  • Give enough rest time to your dog.
  • Contact the vet and confirm the side effects of the medications you provide for your dog.
  • Give your dog a healthy and stress-free environment.

Read More: Why Does My Dog Lay On My Legs? (7 Possible Reasons )

Final Words

Although sleep disorders like sleep paralysis are rare in dogs, you need to watch your dog and keep its surroundings healthy and safe.

You may now know about the condition of sleep paralysis in dogs: its causes, treatment, preventive measures, symptoms, and other information.

Make sure you take proper care of your dog, provide them with a healthy environment, and consider going to the veterinarian for your dog whenever you feel it to be necessary.