On several occasions, we have heard about people who walk while asleep, but it is very rare to hear of animals doing the same. However, confirmations from reality checks have established that sleepwalking or somnambulism as it is medically called is indeed widespread among animals, especially in the canine population. This article is focused on sleepwalking in dogs, both causes and symptoms, in addition to possible remedies.
Why Do Dogs Sleepwalk?
Although the causes of sleepwalking in dogs are not clear, a few of the possibilities have been listed as aging, and lack of sleep.
Once a hound is not getting enough sleep, sleeping disorders such as cataplexy and narcolepsy might set in. However, it is not certain if sleepwalking is a result of sleep deprivation. There is a sleeping disorder known as REM (rapid eye movement) within the canine population. According to findings, dogs are believed to engage in dreams during their REM stage of sleep, just like in humans. Under normal circumstances, the muscles are supposed to be paralyzed during a dreamy sleep, but in the absence of that, dogs can actually act out their dreams in the same way as humans.
Hounds that are predisposed to REM sleep disorder are known to frequently howl, bark, bite and chew. More often than not, they experience a violent movement of their limbs while sleeping, which has a close resemblance to sleepwalking. More frequent cases of sleep disorders have been observed in middle-aged dogs than in younger ones. Another reason a dog can be found moving around in its sleep is senility.
Symptoms of Sleeping Walking.
A good percentage of the canine population has been known to exhibit some abnormal behaviors while asleep. For a dog adopter, one thing that needs to be done is to establish what really happened. Many pet parents have shared their experiences with their dogs that they suspect to be sleepwalking, or dreaming as the case may be. According to many of them, while sleeping the pooch will suddenly growl, twitch, whimper, and then start moving its feet, just like it does when it is running. Rapid bout of inhaling and exhaling follows, and the dog would be panting like it is in a chase.
There have been many situations where the dog actually goes beyond limb flaying and body jerking. As the action becomes more and more intensified, and the dog will appear to be overwhelmed by this apparent activity. All of a sudden, it jumps on its feet and runs directly into a wall, in a bid to ostensibly continue whatever he was doing in his sleep. It is only upon that hard contact with the wall that the dog will abruptly come awake with his face depicting surprise and confusion as if it is asking “what the hell happened.”
There are still some pet parents that have complained about finding their pooch just sniffing around at night, and when you switch on the light to see what is happening, the dog will not even react nor will it acknowledge your presence. Many have attested to bringing the dog back to bed with a gentle coax, and in the morning, you won’t even see any sign of whatever occurred last night
The obvious question on every pet parent’s lips is “Do dogs actually walk aimlessly around when they are experiencing somnambulism”. In answer to such questions, many experts have opined that these kinds of behavior are very far from sleepwalking as it is only humans that move around when they are plagued with somnambulism. For the canine population, they are more disposed to engage in some fitful movements of their bodies, such as paddling their limbs as if they are in a chase.
Researchers have established that, when some dogs move around in a trance, it may be a sign of aging or even the outcome of some mental or cognitive disorder. So when a dog is observed to be doing that, other health conditions should be explored, sleeping disorders like narcolepsy, senility, or even cataplexy need to be ruled out before you can consider somnambulism. Recommendations from experts are that you keep the dog under close watch in order to ascertain the underlying causes of such behavior.
Then there is also the question of dreaming, “do dogs also dream”. Though experts are yet to respond to this particular question, a non-expert view stated that members of the canine population do dreamlike human beings.
Treatment for Sleepwalking
Dogs that have the propensity to sleepwalk are exposed to high risk as they may injure themselves in the process. So if you observe your pooch displaying the symptoms of somnambulism, the vet should be consulted immediately.
Studies have established that you can fight sleep disorders in dogs with proper nutrition. Any canine diet rich in Omega 3 and replete with the vital fatty acids goes a long way in overcoming a canine sleeping disorder. Once a dog’s diet has the right quantity of supplements like; flavonoids, mixed tocopherols, as well as Omega 3 fatty acids, remarkable improvements will be observed within a short while. Some vets are known to recommend organic food, which is very effective.
And for a dog that is sleepwalking, you should not try waking it up as this could prove dangerous – You might see yourself facing an attack if the dog is startled. So once you observe the signs of somnambulism in your pooch, allow it to continue. If it is possible, you can try cajoling it back to its sleeping position. You can only try this once, and immediately your first attempt fails, don’t try to force it, just allows your canine friend to settle down at its own convenient time.
However, you need to try to discover the root cause of the abnormal sleeping behavior in your pooch by consulting with your vet since it has proved to be an indication of a more serious health problem in some dogs. The situation may even call for a neurological examination.
Watching a sleepwalking dog might be an interesting experience, but you have to apply caution as your pooch is not capable of expressing what ails it, so the wellbeing of the dog might be on the line. Many pet parents who are not able to decipher the symptoms of somnambulism often confuse it with that of canine seizure. However, even if it is a case of seizure, the vet’s attention is urgently needed.
- Can Dogs Sleepwalk? – Cuteness
- Sleep Walking Dog: Causes & Symptoms That Shouldn’t Be Ignored – Dogsaholic