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Why Is My Puppy Shaking While Sleeping? 4 Potential Reasons

Nicole Cosgrove Profile Picture

By Nicole Cosgrove

puppy sleeping in the mat

It can be somewhat alarming to see your puppy shaking like a leaf while sleeping — are they having a bad dream? Is it epilepsy? Maybe it’s just too cold? In any case, it doesn’t look like it’s a pleasant experience nor offering the deep sleep that a growing puppy needs.

This article will discuss 5 of the most common reasons that your pup could be shaking while sleeping, in no particular order. Some reasons are perfectly normal, while others may be a reason to keep a closer eye on your dog for the time being. Either way, information is power, and once equipped, you can make the decision that will keep your puppy safe and happy.

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4 Reasons Your Puppy Shakes While Sleeping

1. Dreams

Before you assume the worst, take a close look at your dog. When a puppy is dreaming, there could be shaking, twitching, and trembling going on in relation to that dream. Perhaps there are visions of rabbits in green fields, and it’s only natural your puppy would delight in a chase.

Take a look at their eyes: If you see some movement under the lids, this indicates REM sleep, or rapid eye movement, and this is normal. Animals dream just like humans, and sometimes the dreams can seem very real to them.

sleeping puppy
Image Credit: Anthea Forder, Pixabay

2. Cold

Another simple reason could be that your puppy is cold. Puppies are still growing and haven’t developed enough muscle or body fat to keep them warm all the time, especially if it is a chilly winter’s day outside. It’s easy enough to cover your little one with a warm blanket or make their bed near a warm stove.

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3. Nausea

If your puppy is taking medication, was on a recent car trip, or ate too much in one sitting, then the culprit could be nausea. Also, make sure your pup didn’t eat anything poisonous if you think it is food-related. If your puppy is vomiting and you feel that there is a chance of poison, call your vet or the Animal Poison Control Center immediately.

Take a look at the side effects of any medications that have been given — many meds are known to cause slight nausea. If you have been cruising around town recently, there may be a bit of motion sickness, causing your puppy to feel ill.

4. Pain or Illness

Was your puppy playing around excessively before their nap? There may have been an incident where your puppy was hurt. If that is the case, the shaking could be caused by pain. But if that’s the case, then they will tremble when awake too.

Your puppy could also be ill. Unfortunately, a sign of distemper is shivering, but they will also be lethargic and have a cough and runny eyes and nose. Puppies don’t get their first distemper vaccine until eight weeks old.

shih tzu sleeping alone
Image Credit: Pixabay

5. Seizure Disorders

Seizures are a scary thought, though they’re not common. If you notice that your puppy collapses when upright, stiffens, or has muscle twitching, loss of consciousness, foaming at the mouth, drooling, chomping, or tongue chewing, then epilepsy could be a concern. Watch your puppy for any signs, but if they are only shaking while sleeping and have none of the other signs of a seizure disorder, then everything should be fine.

To distinguish between dreams and epilepsy, you will notice that if it is a dream, your puppy will be twitching, paddling, or kicking their legs. This lasts for a short period of time and may be intermittent, and they will easily awaken. If a puppy is seizing, their limbs will be stiff, even rigid, and their body will have violent movement. It will also not be easy to wake your puppy, and once they do wake, they will appear disoriented and may pant or drool.

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Puppies are adorable, even while sleeping. To see your puppy trembling and shaking may be off-putting, but don’t assume that it’s food poisoning or epilepsy without looking for other signs and symptoms. Most likely it will be a dream because puppies have vivid dreams that tend to subside as they get older.

If you are concerned with any excess shaking, especially if it happens frequently when awake, mention it to your vet and get an appointment for your puppy to be examined. It may not be anything serious, but since puppies can’t speak to us, we need to watch for any concerns.

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Authored by

Nicole is the proud mom of Rosa, a New Zealand Huntaway, and Baby, a Burmese cat. Originally from Canada, Nicole now lives on a lush forest property with her Kiwi husband in New Zealand. Nicole has a strong love for all animals and has experience caring for all types of dogs, from Yorkies to Great Danes. Nicole even worked as a dog sitter during her travels through South America and cared for stray pups — something she ...Read more

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