My Dog Sleeps With His Eyes Open: What Should I Do?


Did you just see your pooch sleeping with his eyes open? That’s interesting but kind of creepy especially if your dog just started doing it. You might be wondering if your buddy is really awake. You might be tempted to touch him to check if he’s okay. Should you call the vet because something is not normal? Well, you have to read this first.

Why Do Some Dogs Sleep with Their Eyes Open?

First of all, not all dogs have this kind of sleeping behavior. If your pooch happens to be one of the few dogs who have this unusual trait, don’t be alarmed. It is just a “trick” dogs got from their ancestors.

In the wild, dogs sleep with their eyes open to defend themselves from potential predators. Although there are no creatures that will devour him while in your home, your dog can still learn the skill. Perhaps your pooch does not want to be off guard even when he is resting.

Other Possible Reasons for Sleeping with Eyes Open

However, there are instances when you need to call the vet. If you always watch your dog while sleeping and he just started doing it, it is possible that something is wrong. Here are other reasons for this unusual trait:

  • Cherry Eye

In case you noticed a pinkish white flesh while the eyes are open, it is highly likely that you are just seeing the third eyelid. Yes, this eyelid actually serves a purpose. It provides extra protection to the cornea and the eyes. A defect in the third eyelid is referred to as the Cherry Eye disease.

Some dog breeds have more noticeable third eyelids than others. Those with long heads and smaller eyes such as the Bloodhounds and the Bull Terriers are believed to have distinct third eyelids.

In veterinary terms, this is known as Eyelid Protrusion. Any dog could suffer from it but certain breeds are more predisposed to it. Beagles, Lhasa Apsos, and Cocker Spaniels are said to be the usual sufferers of the Cherry Eye disease.

Bring your pet to the vet in case you noticed an oval mass sticking out from his third eyelid. In an advanced stage, the entire gland should be removed through surgery. Otherwise, your vet will just recommend medications to lessen the inflammation.

  • Lagophthalmos

If your pet is sleeping with one eye open, it could be a case of Lagophthalmos. Canines can suffer from this disease which is common among breeds with short and flattened heads. The Pugs, Shih Tzus, and the Bulldogs are prone to this eye condition due to their broad and short heads.

Aside from breed, there are some abnormalities in the eye socket that can also cause this condition. It can happen when there is a mass in the eye socket that causes the bulging of the eyeball. The eyelid could fall over, making it difficult for dogs to close their eyes properly. In some cases, dogs have this when certain nerves in their face are paralyzed.

Take your pet to the vet if you notice anything unusual in your dog’s eyes, along with sleeping with his eyes open. The usual symptoms of Lagophthalmos are changes in eye colors, sores in the cornea that are taking a long time to heal, and scars.

Surgery may be necessary but in the early stages of the condition, your vet will only prescribe a lubricating ointment. There is a sterile eye drop intended for canine use that can soothe your dog’s eyes and can help if he is suffering from eye dryness.

This is because sleeping with the eyes open can irritate the eyes and can cause them to become dry. Your pet is also more prone to bacteria because his eyes are open.

  • Seizures

Something’s not right if your dog’s eyes are wide open as if he is gazing blankly at something. This is a sign of a seizure which is sometimes mistaken for twitching. Dog twitching is normal and our pets do this duringdeep sleep. Their eyes might be partially closed during this time and they look like they are in a relaxed manner.

A twitching dog may also display a few movements. They usually act like they are kicking or paddling and even shaking. It is possible that they are chasing something in their dream. It is actually a sign of a good dream and you should not bother waking the dog up.

Seizures, on the other hand, don’t involve any movement. Keep an eye on your dog’s actions. If he looks stiff and rigid, this could be a sign of a seizure episode. Seizures normally happen when dogs are awake but they are unconscious the whole time. Still, there is a possibility that this could happen while they are sleeping or taking a nap.

You are not supposed to do anything in case it was really seizure that your dog is experiencing. Dogs should not be interrupted during a seizure because it is going to stop on its own. It does not need any medical help unless the dog has multiple seizures during a day. If the seizures happened a couple of times or even more in 24 hours, give your vet a call.

The Bottom Line

As the old adage goes, let the sleeping dog lie. Let your pet sleep even if his eyes are open or partially closed. Like us, our pets also deserve to have an uninterrupted nap. That is a normal trait that some dogs inherited from their ancestors. Don’t force your pet to sleep with both his eyes closed because it may only stress him when he’s really used to sleeping with his eyes open.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here