Do Dogs Have Nightmares?

James Glover
by James Glover
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QuestionDo dogs get nightmares? My mixed breed puppy, sox, sometimes get dreams and starts twitching and moves her paw a lot and sometimes it takes me awhile to wake her up. (Amanda Lone - Texas)

Answer

Accepted wisdom says dogs dream just like people so yes they inevitably have some nightmares. People only tend to remember dreams or nightmares when they wake up during REM sleep, so waking your dog during this kind of episode is not necessarily the best solution - especially since he may be confused when woken.

Dogs tend to dream with more action and for shorter times than people. Sometimes dogs exhibit so much movement during a dream that people have in the past mistaken them for seizures. However, you can easily wake a dreaming dog, but you could not halt a seizure in the same way.

Disclaimer: This service is meant to provide advice only and is not meant to replace an appointment with a registered veterinarian. Users should always seek a second opinion. Unfortunately we are only able to answer several questions per week so not everyone gets a published answer. And, unfortunately we can't answer by email.
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Texas
JubileeGirl
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Added on June 11th, 2010
In response to 2rottondogs:
   
My dog has some of those issues, too, and he was also adopted. It's quite possible that your dog is having dreams about traumatic experiences he had before you adopted him. Something you could do to help is to give him some Benadryl. Benadryl can calm your dog down and help him to sleep. Make sure you talk to your vet first to determine how much your dog should have.
Montana
2rottondogs
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Added on June 1st, 2010
I just adopted a 10 year old Golden Retriever about 6 weeks ago. His name is Remi. I believe he has nightmares almost every night. Some time during the night he starts howling, last night he did it 4 times. Most nights it's just once. I go to him right away and tell him everything is ok. Every now and then he can make it though the night without howling. I do know in his past he was boarded quite a bit. I'm his third owner, his last owner didn't tell me about his problem, I believe that is why he got rid of Remi. Remi is a very sweet and kind dog. Does anyone know what might help him sleep though the night? We would both like to get a good nights sleep. Thanks Remi's new dad