Ask Dr Claire

Dog has spasms whilst asleep that make her whole body jerk to the point she can fall off the couch

She has what I would call spasms that make her whole body jerk (kind of like when someone is falling asleep and then jolts awake) to the point she can fall over or off the couch, it is becoming more frequent and regular recently. She is around 11 years old never been sick at all and her breed is Jack Russell x Corgi.
It’s important to know if these movements are only happening when your dog is asleep. Twitching during sleep needs to be differentiated from seizure like activity. One way to know this is a sleep issue is that if your dog is woken they are immediately behaving normally, whereas if it was a seizure for example they wouldn’t be able to be normally roused from the episode.

Dogs, like us, have a period in their sleep cycle called Rapid Eye Movement (REM) sleep. In this time there should only be eye muscle movement. Dogs who have a REM movement disorders often have mild facial or leg twitching, but for some they may have excessive movement and jerking – such as you’ve described with falling off the couch.

Problems in the brain can cause these problems, but more often than not no cause is found.

Usually no treatment is necessary unless the movements are so marked that they can result in harm to your pet. One solution is to have them sleep in safe padded areas, and not in places up high such as couches and beds they could fall off.

If you’re unsure a hands- on examination from your local vet is a great place to start, the vet can do a thorough neurological examination to make sure there are no abnormalities.

If you’d like to chat in person, you can get a vet on a live video call or start a chat to discuss in more detail now.

We’re on stand-by to help!

Chat soon,
Dr Claire

in DogsHealth Tags: sleep disorder