What could be the reason for my dog’s crying during sleep?


Dogs are known to bark, whine, and howl, but crying during sleep is not something that is commonly associated with them. However, if you have a furry friend who cries during sleep, it can be a cause for concern. In this article, we will explore the possible reasons why your dog may be crying during sleep and what you can do to help them.

Understanding Dog Sleep

Before we dive into the reasons for crying during sleep, it is essential to understand the sleep patterns of dogs. Like humans, dogs have two stages of sleep – Rapid Eye Movement (REM) and Non-Rapid Eye Movement (NREM). During REM sleep, dogs experience vivid dreams, and it is not uncommon for them to twitch their legs, whine, and even bark. On the other hand, NREM sleep is a deeper, more restful sleep, where the body repairs and rejuvenates itself.

Types of Dog Crying During Sleep

There are two types of crying that dogs may exhibit during sleep. The first is whining or whimpering, which could indicate pain or discomfort. The second is a more prolonged, mournful cry, which could be a sign of distress or anxiety. It is essential to observe your dog’s body language and behavior during sleep to determine which type of crying they are exhibiting.

Physical Reasons for Crying During Sleep

Physical reasons for crying during sleep could include pain or discomfort caused by an injury or underlying health condition. Arthritis, hip dysplasia, or dental problems could cause your dog to cry out in pain during sleep. It is essential to consult with your veterinarian if you suspect an underlying physical issue.

Psychological Reasons for Crying During Sleep

Dogs, like humans, can experience anxiety and stress. If your dog is crying during sleep, it could be a sign of separation anxiety or fear. Dogs who suffer from separation anxiety may cry during sleep, especially if they are sleeping in a different room from their owner. Fear-related crying during sleep could be caused by past traumatic experiences or phobias.

Separation Anxiety and Crying During Sleep

Separation anxiety is a common issue among dogs, and it can manifest in different ways, including crying during sleep. Separation anxiety occurs when a dog becomes distressed when separated from its owner. To help your dog with separation anxiety, you can gradually introduce them to being alone, provide interactive toys to keep them occupied, and seek professional help if necessary.

Nightmares and Crying During Sleep

As mentioned earlier, dogs experience vivid dreams during REM sleep, which could lead to whining or whimpering. However, dogs can also have nightmares, which could cause them to cry out in fear or distress. If your dog is having frequent nightmares, it could be a sign of underlying anxiety or trauma.

Age-Related Reasons for Crying During Sleep

As dogs age, they may experience cognitive decline, which could cause them to cry during sleep. Cognitive decline could lead to confusion, disorientation, and anxiety, which could manifest in crying during sleep. It is essential to consult with your veterinarian if you suspect age-related issues.

How to Help a Dog with Crying During Sleep

The best way to help a dog with crying during sleep is to identify the underlying cause and provide appropriate support. If the crying is caused by physical pain, consult with your veterinarian for treatment options. If it is caused by psychological issues, seek professional help and provide a safe and comforting environment for your dog.

When to See a Vet

If your dog’s crying during sleep is persistent or accompanied by other symptoms such as lethargy, loss of appetite, or difficulty breathing, it is essential to see a veterinarian. Your veterinarian can perform a thorough examination and determine if there are any underlying health issues causing the crying.


Crying during sleep can be a cause for concern for dog owners, but it is essential to understand the possible reasons behind it. Whether it is caused by physical pain, psychological issues, or age-related decline, there are ways to help your furry friend. By providing a safe and comforting environment and seeking professional help when necessary, you can help your dog get the restful sleep they need.


  • Coren, S. (2016). Why do dogs howl at night? Psychology Today.
  • Landsberg, G. M., Hunthausen, W. L., & Ackerman, L. J. (2013). Handbook of behavior problems of the dog and cat. Elsevier Health Sciences.
  • Shojai, A. (2011). The first aid companion for dogs & cats. Rodale.
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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