The Reason Why Your Dogs Sleep with Their Eyes Open


The internet is run amok with plenty of cute dog videos that will ultimately convince you to bring one home. But once you become a pet parent, you realize that time spent with dogs is not always playful or exciting.

In fact, most dogs spend 50% of their day peacefully dozing off. While they might look serene while resting, one thing that might freak anyone out is the trait of sleeping with eyes open.

However, this is a common phenomenon and does not necessarily signify trouble. To know more about why your pet sleeps with its eye shutters open, read more!

Can Dogs Sleep with Their Eyes Open?

YES, your dog can sleep with its eyes open. Sounds just a bit spooky, right? However, once you adopt a dog, you must prepare for plenty of similar situations. After all, there's no saying what next antic your furry companion might pull off to surprise you completely.

Scientifically, they can sleep with their eyes partially or entirely open. Unlike humans, dogs have a third eyelid, i.e., a nictitating membrane, to prevent any extra contaminants or dirt particles from entering the eye. So, it is quite possible that what you perceive as an open eye is actually the third eyelid in action.

Why do Dogs Sleep with Their Eyes Open?

Now that you are assured that your dog's sleeping behavior is a common trait, you might want to know why it actually happens. One crucial point to note here is that dogs appear to sleep with their eyes open while the third eyelid remains closed the entire time.

As such, your four-legged friend does not face the risk of exposure to keratopathy or dry eye syndrome. Additionally, you must remember that dogs are hardwired to protect themselves and their surroundings against any external danger. Listed below are a few more reasons why a dog sleeps with its eyes open.

Your Dog Might Not Be Asleep

Have you ever noticed that dogs might appear remarkably steady or asleep but move as soon as you pass by? It may seem a bit scary, but it is pretty standard when you think about it. That's because it is highly likely that they were not sleeping mindfully and were partially awake.

As such, your pet will come back to complete consciousness as soon as there's minimal disturbance or stimulation. Additionally, you must remember that these cute furry companions aren't always highly energetic. Sometimes, you might feel like the dog is sleeping, but in reality, it is just being sluggish.

Sleep Cycle

Did you know that, unlike human beings, dogs are polyphasic sleepers? Instead of sleeping for 7-9 hours at a stretch, they sleep on and off throughout the day. However, dogs also enjoy both Rapid Eye Movement (REM) and non-REM sleep cycles.

Each wake-sleep cycle for dogs is 83 minutes long. During this time, they spend significant time in the REM sleep or dreaming stage. So, it is quite possible that when the dog appears to be asleep with eyes open, it is actually dreaming. You might catch their eyes flickering as they visualize chasing other animals around the park. 

Noisy Environment

There's no doubt in the fact that noise levels in the vicinity directly affect anyone's sleeping pattern. The same goes for your little fur babies as they try to adjust to a newer environment. If you often play loud music or entertain people over, your pet might try finding a quiet little spot in the house.

Additionally, excessive noise is known to increase most organisms' heart rate or hormone levels. To ensure your dog is not affected by noise anxiety, try to maintain a calm atmosphere inside the house. Doing so will help bring the pet at ease and doze off.


Even though dogs appear to be the cutest creatures around, they can act quite territorial when they don't feel safe. In fact, your pet might even run away and get into a brawl with other dogs in the neighborhood or park. You might notice that they cannot close their eyes properly in such cases.

Sharp nails can harm their eyes or cause a tear in the nictitating membrane. If so, you might want to consult with a veterinarian as soon as possible. If you feel your dog's eye might be injured, stay alert and watch for symptoms like redness, inflammation, watery eyes, etc.

Natural Instincts

Another reason your dog might appear asleep with wide-open eye shutters can be related to evolution. In the past, dogs needed to maintain a certain level of awareness to stay alert to any dangers lurking in the wild. Most of these survival tactics are passed down from generation to generation to ensure maximum safety.

As such, they always keep an eye out for distress and are ready to fight against strangers to protect their pups or owners. Even though your dog has nothing to fear apart from overwhelming love and affection, years of hardwired instincts are not easy to overcome.

Should You Be Worried About Dogs When They Sleep With Their Eyes Open?

Generally speaking, you have no reason to lose sleep over this matter. When you become a pet parent for the first time, you are bound to spot such small antics and worry about your furry companion's health. However, you must remember that sleeping with eyes open is a common trait for dogs.

However, if you still want to stay on the safe side, it is better to get in touch with a veterinarian if you notice fever or seizures. You can also contact a friend or a family member with a dog to put your mind at ease.

What Can You Do to Make Your Dog Sleep Peacefully?

Can't digest the thought of your fur baby being uncomfortable in sleep or facing trouble resting comfortably? If so, pat yourselves on the back and stop panicking for no reason at all. Here are a few pointers you can follow to ensure your pet is sleeping peacefully without any qualms whatsoever.

Ensure Enough Playtime

Just like humans, pets also tend to fall asleep more conveniently once tired. Therefore, spend about 30 minutes to 2 hours playing with the little buddy to work off the extra energy. Once the stamina goes down, your dog will give into sleep much more efficiently without remaining partially unconscious.

Feed a Healthy Diet

There's no doubt in the fact that the overall health directly affects sleeping patterns. As such, you must try to feed your dog nutritional meals to keep its health optimal. With proper nutrition, their digestive system will work much better, thus allowing them to rest without any disturbance whatsoever.

Keep a Consistent Sleep Cycle

If you have recently brought a new pet home, it is crucial to start training it from the first day. One of the essential training elements should be fixed nap times. Doing so will help dogs adjust better to newer surroundings and get their much-needed rest without any external distractions.

Feed at Night

Always ensure to feed your dogs at night to avoid any disturbance during the sleeping hour. If you provide dinner early, your pet might start feeling hungry and wake up cranky in the middle of the night. As such, fix the meal hours to avoid any sleep pattern distractions.


Dogs are the love and light of any pet parent's life! But they can also become a reason for constant worry at times. One such instance that might have spooked you are dogs sleeping with their eyes open. After all, how is that possible?

However, you must know that a dog sleeping with eye shutters is common, especially in breeds like Pugs or Greyhounds. It usually happens because of their existing instinct to stay alert or sleep heavily during the REM cycle.

You can ensure better sleep for your pet by fixing a sleep schedule or feeding them at night.


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