Best Friends Animal Society Press Release
World Dream Day takes place on Sept. 25, so it’s time to answer the question many pet parents have: what really goes on in my pets’ minds when they sleep? Best Friends Animal Society is sharing insight into pets’ zzzz’s.
As you may have suspected, pet parents who believe their dogs and cats have dreams are correct. Dogs and cats dream when they reach REM sleep, also known as the rapid eye movement stage of sleep. During these dreams, scientists believe pets dream about a delicious treat or fun interaction with other furry friends. That explains why pet parents will sometimes see their sleeping-pal wagging their tail, twitching paws, running in place, or even grunting or barking.
In addition to these happier dreams, pets will sometimes experience night terrors, too. These can be due to previous encounters that were scary for them and creep into their subconscious dreams.
“It can be difficult to watch your dog have a nightmare, or bad dream, but it is not recommended to wake a dog from their dreams, whether they are good or bad,” said Best Friends Animal Society’s certified applied animal behaviorist, Dr. Carley Faughn. “If you feel like a nightmare is going on too long or you do need to wake your pet, then I suggest starting with your voice at a calm level and saying their name until you can get them out of REM sleep.”
Faughn warns that if you try to wake your dog or cat while they are in a deep sleep and/or having a bad dream, they might be startled and accidentally overreact when awakened, potentially leading to a nip or bite.
While nightmares are unpleasant for pets and their parents, they are usually harmless. However, there are medical conditions, such as seizures, that can be confused for nightmares. Faughn notes the biggest way to differentiate seizures from nightmares is that seizures tend to occur when cats/dogs are awake, and night terrors happen while they are asleep.
“Typical signs to look for with a seizure would be a difference in breathing, such as labored breathing or difficulty taking a breath,” said Faughn. “If you notice other symptoms that seem out of the ordinary when your pet sleeps, then consult your veterinarian for a follow-up, just in case.”
World Dream Day is a great day to continue to explore the human-pet bond and understanding their dreams is a great way to celebrate. If you are looking to expand your family, why not adopt and make a dream come an animal in need of a forever home? Best Friends in Kanab has hundreds of dogs, cats, bunnies, birds, pigs, goats,and horses that would love to be your best buddy. View available pets online at www.bestfriends.org.