Why Does My Dog Sleep With Open Eyes? (Kind of Creepy)

Thanks for stopping by to learn why dogs sleep with open eyes. Have you ever seen the video "Dog Sleeps with Eyes Open?" It's a pretty odd sight. Right? However, there are common and not-so-common reasons why dogs sleep like this. 

Your dog's vision is essential for their quality of life, so if you feel this behavior requires attention, don't hesitate to take your pet to the vet.

Read on to understand more about this canine occurrence of why dogs sleep with open eyes.

Why Dogs Sleep with Open Eyes

Pomeranian sleeping with one eye open

Dog’s eyes have similarities to human's, but they have some differences too. For example, we know our dogs maintain sharper vision than humans.

However, like us, when they age, their eyesight ages. In addition, they get glaucoma, eye infections and are susceptible to eye injuries like their human companions, which, as we'll find out later, are some reasons that possibly lead to a dog sleeping with open eyes.

Let's delve into the specifics of this furbaby sleep phenomena:

Evolutionary Trait

One possibility is that it's an evolutionary trait to protect itself from being vulnerable to an attacker, human or animal, when in a deep state slumber. 

Another train of thought is that your dog has her guard up to watch over you as you sleep. Because this behavior is part of canine evolution, some dogs still do this even though they're domesticated.

Sleeping dog dreaming

Doggy Dreams

Dog dreaming occasionally causes dogs to sleep with open eyes. When dogs dream, it's usually accompanied by leg twitching, so don't be alarmed; it's not a seizure.

However, next in this content, we'll look at a seizure episode to help understand the difference.

In brief, if your dog is in a deep state of sleep, she's relaxed and appears peaceful yet, quickly responsive when awoken. Dog's dreams are likely about replaying the activities that make up their day-to-day life like chasing, playing, and eating.


Your dog will often look tense and with snapping jaws instead of relaxed. Dogs amidst a seizure also typically make noises of distress like a howl or moaning sound. One quick way to tell the difference between a seizure and a dream is to call their name. 

A dreaming canine will wake up and come to you, while a dog amid a seizure will be unable to stand up. If your dog is having convulsions, there is little an owner can do but make sure their area is comfortable. In addition, keep them safe by clearing out anything that's a danger to them while they thrash.

Finally, stay calm and speak to your dog in a very soft and reassuring voice and try not to make any loud sounds that would startle your pet. Your dog will be disoriented, so keep them focused by softly touching them and remain speaking in a calming voice. 

Do a vet check after your dog has a seizure, even if her behavior has returned to normal. First, try to find a veterinary clinic. They may want to run a series of tests to determine the cause of your dog having a seizure.

Common causes for seizures in dogs are:

  • Liver disease
  • Low or elevated blood sugar
  • Kidney disease
  • Anemic
  • Encephalitis
  • Electrolyte imbalance
  • Ingesting poison
  • Head injury

Cherry Eye

Cherry Eye, a term for a dog's swollen third eyelid gland, is primarily seen in bulldogs, Pugs, Shih Tzu's, Pekingese, or other flat-faced dog breeds.

This condition presents itself when the cartilage that supports your dog’s eyelid falls over and their gland prolapses, preventing their third eyelid, known as the nictitating membrane or haw, from correctly protecting their eyes. 

The membrane acts for the cornea much like a windshield wiper works for a vehicle removing dust, dirt, debris, or mucus. In addition, the nictitating membrane is responsible for one-third of your dog's tear production, and its lymphoid tissue produces infection-fighting antibodies. 

Without the protection a properly functioning membrane provides, the attached gland possibly becomes infected, irritated, swollen, and red, creating an appearance akin to a cherry.

Basset hound with stethoscope

Neurological Issues

It’s imperative to keep an eye on your dog's health and stay alert. Every responsible dog owner should be able to notice at least some symptoms of dog health issues. Remember that you can spare your dog many long-term health problems by reacting quickly to the first signs of the disease.

Some neurological conditions may cause loss of function to the nerve that supplies the third eyelid. For example, Horner's syndrome is a common neurological disorder that occurs suddenly and characterized by a hollow (sunken) eye, small pupil size, drooping eyelids, imbalanced facial features, and the prolapse of the third eyelid.

The cause is unknown; however, expected triggers are:

  • Nerve-compressing growth
  • Head trauma
  • Herniated disc
  • Medication side effect
  • Bite wounds
  • Middle or inner ear infection


Lagophthalmos, the medical term meaning that a dog cannot close its eye fully, occurs when the eye's globe is too large to properly close the lid around the eye. This condition is possibly due to genetics or an underlying disease like glaucoma.

If your dog's eyes look enlarged and she’s started sleeping with open eyes, it would be best to have a vet check it out to be safe and ensure nothing is wrong.

Final Thoughts

By keeping your eyes on your dog’s eyes, you maintain the ability to spot any issues quickly and strengthen your pup's ability to see correctly into her later years. If you feel there's something not right with your pup in your canine-loving heart, don't second-guess yourself have them vet checked. 

Be a responsible dog owner; keep your fur babies eyes in top condition. In addition, the best way to maintain your dog's health is to keep up on annual check-ups, shot routines and have them spayed or neutered.

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