Why Does My Dog Shake When He Breathes in While Sleeping

Why Does My Dog Shake When He Breathes in While Sleeping?

It can be quite disconcerting to see your beloved furry friend shaking while they sleep, especially when they also appear to be having difficulty breathing. While it’s natural to worry, there are several possible reasons why your dog may shake when they breathe in while sleeping, and most of them are not cause for immediate concern.

1. Normal Sleep Movements: Dogs, like humans, experience different sleep cycles, including REM (rapid eye movement) sleep. During REM sleep, dogs may twitch, shake, or even vocalize. These movements are normal and are a sign that your dog is in a deep sleep state.

2. Dreaming: Dogs are known to dream just like humans. During their dreams, they may experience muscle twitches or shakes, which can be mistaken for difficulty breathing. These movements are harmless and are simply a result of their brain activity during sleep.

3. Temperature Regulation: Dogs may shake or shiver while sleeping as a way to regulate their body temperature. This is particularly common in small breeds or dogs with short hair. If your dog is otherwise healthy, it’s likely that their shaking is simply a way to keep warm during sleep.

4. Anxiety or Stress: Some dogs may shake when they breathe in while sleeping due to anxiety or stress. If your dog has experienced a recent change in their environment or has had a traumatic experience, they may exhibit these symptoms while sleeping. If you suspect anxiety or stress, it’s important to address the underlying cause and provide a calm and secure environment for your pet.

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5. Aging or Arthritis: Older dogs may develop arthritis or other age-related conditions that can cause discomfort. This discomfort may be more noticeable during sleep, resulting in shaking or difficulty breathing. If you suspect this may be the case, consult with your veterinarian for proper diagnosis and treatment options.

6. Underlying Medical Conditions: In some cases, shaking or difficulty breathing while sleeping may be a symptom of an underlying medical condition. These conditions can include respiratory infections, heart problems, or even neurological disorders. If you notice persistent shaking or breathing difficulties, it’s essential to have your dog examined by a veterinarian to rule out any serious health issues.

7. Medication Side Effects: Certain medications may have side effects that include shaking or difficulty breathing. If your dog has recently started a new medication and you notice these symptoms, consult with your veterinarian to determine if the medication is the cause and if any adjustments need to be made.


1. Is it normal for dogs to shake while sleeping?
Yes, it is normal for dogs to shake, twitch, or have muscle twitches while they sleep, especially during REM sleep.

2. Should I wake my dog up if they are shaking?
No, it is generally best to let your dog sleep undisturbed unless they are experiencing distress or discomfort.

3. How can I tell if my dog’s shaking is due to anxiety?
If your dog is shaking while they sleep and also shows signs of anxiety during wakeful periods, such as pacing, whining, or excessive panting, it may be related to anxiety.

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4. Can dogs have nightmares?
Yes, dogs can experience dreams and may exhibit movements or vocalizations during their sleep.

5. How can I keep my dog warm while they sleep?
Provide your dog with a cozy bed, blankets, or even a heated pet pad to keep them warm during sleep.

6. When should I be concerned about my dog’s shaking while sleeping?
If the shaking is accompanied by other concerning symptoms, such as coughing, difficulty breathing, or weakness, it may be necessary to consult with a veterinarian.

7. Can shaking while sleeping be a sign of a serious health condition?
In some cases, shaking while sleeping can be a symptom of an underlying medical condition. It is always best to have your dog examined by a veterinarian to rule out any serious health issues.