Nightmares or vivid dreams in 11-year old dog

This forum is for dog lovers seeking everyday advice and suggestions on health-related issues. Remember, however, that advice on a public forum simply can't be a substitute for proper medical attention. Only your vet can say assuredly what is best for your dog.


Barked: Tue Feb 5, '13 10:57am PST 
My soon to be 11-year old male Border Collie mix has started to have nightmares and/or vivid dreams lately and I'm not sure if it's anything I should be concerned about. It's been going on for about a year or so but has increased lately in frequency. He will sometimes whine/cry in his sleep and will also jerk or move his legs. It looks to me like he's having a nightmare and is possibly dreaming that he's running, thereof the leg movements. Both my dogs have had things like this happen a few times throughout their whole lives and it's nothing I worry about - everyone has nightmares at times - but the fact that it happens so often now has me a bit concerned.
When it happens I usually wake him up by calling his name and once he opens his eyes I sit with him and pet him to comfort him. Usually he just goes back to sleep and there is nothing more to it.

The fact that he's not a youngster anymore makes me worry more about everything. He is generally a healthy dog and other than some allergies have no problems. His last bloodwork was fine and he saw the vet in October and was fine then. He is due for routine bloodwork this month so that's going to be done regardless. I doubt that the bloodwork will be helpful in figuring out the dream issue though.
What do you guys think? Is this something I should worry about? Does anyone else's dog have the same issue?


Member Since
Barked: Tue Feb 5, '13 10:16pm PST 
If your dog is making noise in his sleep, it doesn't necessarily mean he's having nightmares. Dogs make lots of different noises during the day, and if your dog is merely kicking or making quiet noises, he could be having a good dream. But if your dog is growling, crying, or seems upset, it's likely he is having a nightmare. Waking a dog up from a nightmare can be a risky proposition. Much like people, dogs may not wake up fully right away from a dream.

It's important to know that your dog may not act like himself when waking up from a dream and there's a possibility of being bitten. Try waking your dog up with your voice rather than touching him if you're worried he's having a bad dream.
Savannah (In- Memory)

Barked: Wed Feb 6, '13 7:33am PST 
My dog has done that since I've had her whenever she is in a deep sleep. We say she is chasing squirrels, her favorite waking pasttime. The first time she did it I thought she was having a seizure! We quickly learned it was normal for her. She will paddle her legs, rotate her ears (we call it Daggit ears, old Battlestar Galactica reference), do full body twitching and even a funny little bark where she puffs out her cheeks. It does wake us up sometimes but it is so adorable we don't mind. Sometimes she wakes up startled and we comfort her and she goes right back to sleep. We know when she is doing it she is getting good, deep, restful sleep since she won't do it when she is ailing. I suspect your dog is sleeping deeper as a senior and it is nothing to be overly concerned about. If you are worried, try filming it to show to your vet.


Barked: Wed Feb 6, '13 4:38pm PST 
I had a dog that would do this. Once it was so bad I tryed to wake him up. He was do deep in sleep. It took a bit to get him to wake up. After that, I just let it go, with the idea he was getting good sleep and having a fun dream

Member Since
Barked: Thu Feb 7, '13 12:28am PST 
Yes, Savannah has a good suggestion. If you really are that worried, why not film his sleep episodes. Relax, though, because we don't think there is nothing to worry about. hug
"Gunner" Da- Big Boy- Angel

Da Big Boy- Rules, I AM the- Big Boy!
Barked: Sun Feb 10, '13 7:59pm PST 
Some dogs especially older dogs can have tremors in their sleep, Gunner started having them when he was 10 yrs old. I caught them on my phone camera, took it to work and showed the Vets I work with, we determined that he was having little tremors, sorta like involuntary muscle and nerve movements. We put an acupuncture staples in his ears,(we do this with dogs who are having seizures as this is a meridian for the brain)well, this worked, he slept well after that, no more tremors, no more fussing around in his sleep. He actually seemed happier during the day and had more energy. We think the tremors were interupting his sleep, poor him.
Once the staples would start to work their way out his tremors would start to return, so I would just re-do them. This is very easy on the dog and it certainly has helped many dogs.
I agree with the other poster who suggested getting a tape of your pup sleeping and bring it to your Vet. Try talking to a intregrative vet who can do acupuncture if your vet thinks it may be muscle or nerve movements.