When To Be Concerned About A Dog Sleeping With Their Eyes Open

Observant pet parents must have witnessed a dog sleeping with eyes open or half-open, which are considered to be normal among the members of the canine population. However, there are a few situations that call for concern when your dog starts sleeping with open eyes. Under these circumstances, pet owners must call the attention of their local vet to take care of the situation.

Serious Conditions That Can Make Dogs Sleep With Open Eyes

Under normal circumstances, dogs going to sleep with their eyes partially open is not a course for alarm. Thus, pet parents don’t usually have anything to worry about when they notice this behavior in their canine companions except your pooch belongs to the breeds of flat-faced dogs.

Flat-faced or not, there are certain medical conditions that come with symptoms like sleeping with eyes open.
When a pup’s sleep appears to be abnormal with eyes open. It may be because it has developed a medical condition known as narcoleptic.

On the other hand, when the canine appears to be dozing off with open eyes when in actual sense, it is not sleeping, then it might be suffering from epilepsy.

Either of the above-mentioned cases is a serious health condition that will require the attention of your local vet who will examine the dog and come up with a diagnosis.


This is a neurological disorder that makes members of the canine population suddenly fall asleep in what can be regarded as inappropriate moments; this can happen during exercise sessions, training sessions, game time, and the likes. More often than not, the disorder is inherited, connected to some genetic fault in the pathways of the dog’s brain, especially the side that controls sleep.

Doberman Pinschers are the major sufferers of this hereditary form; however, there have been documentations of narcolepsy in several other breeds of canines such as Dachshunds, Poodles, and Labradors.

A pup going through a narcoleptic episode will have its brain suddenly flick into sleep mood. Just as suddenly as it flicks into sleep mode, the dog’s brain will do a reverse flick into wake mode. During the flick on and flick off episodes, the dog would slump to the ground either lying completely still or twitching, moving about like it wants to enter a dream sequence. While experiencing narcoleptic episodes, the eyes of the dog will remain partially open and in some cases, the open eyes may still be sending signals to the dog’s brain as well.


dog sleeping with eyes open
A dog having seizure source

Canines that have epilepsy usually suffer from recurring seizures. People often view seizures in the light of dramatic events with plenty of convulsive muscle movements. This type of seizure is referred to as grand mal seizure. However, we must also note that dogs that are epileptic can equally experience petit mal seizures; also called absent seizures.

Absent seizures are characterized by several symptoms which include drooling, trembling, or lying down with eyes completely vacant and unfocused. While the dog is still gripped by the seizure episode, it will be totally unresponsive to the owner’s touch or voice, giving the impression of a dog sleeping with eyes half-open.

What To Do If Your Pup Starts Having a Seizure

According to experts, there is very little that a pet parent can do in the event that their dog falls into a seizure episode, however, this does not mean that you can’t do anything at all; here are a few things you can do to help your fur baby’s situation;

Ensure your pooch is comfortable and safe by clearing all harmful objects in its vicinity

The first thing to do when you notice a dog fitting is to ensure its safety; all potential dangers in its immediate environs must be cleared up. If possible, get the dog down to the floor gently because a dog experiencing a seizure on the couch, bed, or sofa may possibly fall down which may lead to injuries.

Stay as calm as possible

Staying calm is of utmost importance when you are in the presence of a dog that is going through a seizure. If the dog’s jaws happen to be snapping, then, it may not be advisable to stroke it but you can talk softly to the canine with a voice that is reassuring.

What to do after a seizure episode

A dog that has just recovered from a seizure episode is likely to be very confused and disoriented. At this point, presenting the canine with something to eat or drink may not be a very good idea. You just need to keep talking to the dog in that calm voice, giving it ample time to re-orient itself. It is only the vet that will know the right time to feed the dog after a seizure, so be sure to consult with your veterinarian.

Read Also: Common Health Issues In Senior Dogs Pet Parents Must Know

Facts To Note About Dogs Sleeping With Eyes Half Open

Since it has been established that sleeping with eyes open is a fairly normal situation among the members of the canine population, it may not always require the attention of a vet. However, a pet parent should raise questions at the next vet visit;

  • If your canine friend regularly sleeps with open eyes, and their eyes appear to be dry, excessively watery, itchy, sore, or inflamed.
  • If your pooch suddenly falls asleep at totally unexpected moments, like during exercise sessions.
  • Or if you find it difficult to gently rouse your fur buddy from sleeping with open eyes, by gently calling its name from a few steps away.

Rousing a dog sleeping with eyes half-open by touching it is not recommended as this may startle the canine. Within that split second after they suddenly come awake, dogs are likely to be disoriented and may take any move you make as aggression.

Dogs that have been through surgery must have taken some anesthesia and it is common knowledge that anesthesia may make a dog sleep with eyes partially open. Your vet will recommend some eye drops and ointment to keep your pooch’s eyes regularly moist during their recovery period.

Always monitor a dog that just came through surgery on a regular basis to ensure that their recovery process is going well.

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