Is it true that dogs’ eyes roll down when they are sleeping?

Introduction: The Myth of Rolling Dog Eyes

Many dog owners have wondered whether their furry friends’ eyes roll down when they are sleeping. This myth is often perpetuated by cartoons and movies that depict sleeping dogs with rolling eyes. However, the truth is that dogs’ eyes do not roll down when they are sleeping. In this article, we will explore the anatomy of a dog’s eye, the sleep cycle of dogs, and the possible causes of eye movement during sleep.

The Anatomy of a Dog’s Eye

A dog’s eye is similar in structure to a human eye. It has a cornea, iris, pupil, lens, retina, and optic nerve. However, dogs have a larger field of vision and more rods in their retina, which allows them to see better in low light conditions. Dogs also have a reflective layer behind their retina called the tapetum lucidum, which gives them the ability to see in the dark.

The Sleep Cycle of Dogs

Dogs sleep for an average of 12-14 hours a day, depending on their age and activity level. They have two stages of sleep: Rapid Eye Movement (REM) sleep and Non-Rapid Eye Movement (NREM) sleep. During NREM sleep, dogs’ eyes are still and they are in a deep sleep. During REM sleep, dogs may twitch, move, and vocalize as they dream. It is during this stage that eye movement can occur.

REM and NREM Sleep

REM sleep is characterized by rapid eye movements, muscle atonia (paralysis), and vivid dreams. NREM sleep is divided into three stages, each with progressively deeper levels of sleep. During NREM sleep, dogs do not move much and their eyes are still. However, they may experience slow eye movements during the transition between NREM and REM sleep.

Do Dogs Dream?

Research has shown that dogs do dream during REM sleep. They may dream about things they have experienced during the day, such as playing with their owner or chasing a squirrel. Dogs may also have nightmares, which can cause them to whine, growl, or bark in their sleep.

Eye Movement During Sleep

During REM sleep, dogs’ eyes may move rapidly from side to side, up and down, or even roll back in their head. This rapid eye movement is thought to be related to the visual content of their dreams. However, it is important to note that dogs’ eyes do not roll down when they are sleeping.

Rolling Eyes in Humans vs Dogs

Humans also experience eye movement during REM sleep, but it is different from the eye movement in dogs. Humans’ eyes move in a more linear and predictable pattern, while dogs’ eye movement is more random and erratic.

Causes of Eye Rolling in Dogs

There can be various causes of eye rolling in dogs, such as neurological disorders, infections, allergies, or eye injuries. However, it is important to distinguish between eye movement during sleep and eye rolling due to a medical condition.

Possible Health Concerns

If you notice that your dog’s eyes are rolling excessively or if they are accompanied by other symptoms such as lethargy, vomiting, or loss of balance, it is important to consult a veterinarian. These may be signs of a serious underlying health condition.

When to Consult a Veterinarian

If you are concerned about your dog’s eye movement or any other symptoms, it is best to consult a veterinarian. They can perform a thorough examination and run tests to determine the cause of the problem. Early diagnosis and treatment can help prevent complications and improve your dog’s quality of life.

Conclusion: Debunking the Eye-Rolling Myth

In conclusion, it is a myth that dogs’ eyes roll down when they are sleeping. Dogs do experience eye movement during REM sleep, but it is not the same as eye rolling. If you notice any unusual eye movement or other symptoms, it is important to consult a veterinarian. By understanding the sleep cycle and anatomy of a dog’s eye, we can better care for our furry friends and ensure their well-being.

References and Further Reading

  • Coren, S. (2016). Do Dogs Dream? Psychology Today.
  • Davidson, J. R. (2018). Rapid eye movement sleep behavior disorder. Neurologic Clinics, 36(2), 261-266.
  • Kowalczyk, M. (2021). Eye rolling in dogs: Causes and what to do. PetMD.
  • National Sleep Foundation. (n.d.). How much sleep do dogs need?
  • Rechtschaffen, A., & Kales, A. (1968). A manual of standardized terminology, techniques and scoring system for sleep stages of human subjects. Washington, DC: Public Health Service.
Mary Allen

Written by Mary Allen

Hello, I'm Mary! I've cared for many pet species including dogs, cats, guinea pigs, fish, and bearded dragons. I also have ten pets of my own currently. I've written many topics in this space including how-tos, informational articles, care guides, breed guides, and more.

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