Sleep paralysis constitutes a sleep disorder that induces temporary paralysis during the transition from wakefulness to slumber or vice versa. The condition, which can last for a matter of seconds or minutes, deprives sufferers of the ability to move or speak, engendering fear and anxiety. While sleep paralysis is relatively commonplace in humans, canines are also susceptible to the disorder. The present article sheds light on the pertinent matters surrounding sleep paralysis in dogs.

What is Sleep Paralysis?

To recapitulate, sleep paralysis involves temporary paralysis while falling asleep or waking up. The disorder can cause sufferers to be unable to move or speak briefly, inducing fear and anxiety. Sleep paralysis can manifest itself in individuals of any age, but adolescents and young adults more frequently experience it. The disorder is often observed in individuals suffering from narcolepsy, a sleep disorder that prompts excessive daytime drowsiness.

Can Dogs Get Sleep Paralysis?

Sleep paralysis is not exclusive to humans; it can also affect dogs. However, the condition is relatively rare among canines, and the underlying causes may differ from those observed in humans. In dogs, sleep paralysis is frequently associated with another sleep disorder called REM behavior disorder (RBD).

REM Behavior Disorder in Dogs

REM behavior disorder (RBD) is a sleep disorder that transpires in canines when they act out their dreams during the REM (Rapid Eye Movement) sleep phase. During this stage, the body’s muscles become immobilized to prevent dogs from acting out their dreams. However, when a dog has RBD, this paralysis does not transpire, resulting in it acting out its dreams. The condition is most prevalent in older dogs and can be triggered by underlying health issues such as cognitive dysfunction, brain tumors, or medication side effects.

Symptoms of Sleep Paralysis in Dogs

The symptoms of sleep paralysis in dogs are comparable to those observed in humans. During an episode of sleep paralysis, a dog may appear awake but unable to move their body or vocalize. This transient paralysis may last for several seconds or minutes. During an episode of sleep paralysis, a dog’s eyes may remain open and appear disoriented or frightened.

Diagnosing Sleep Paralysis in Dogs

The diagnosis of sleep paralysis in dogs can prove difficult, given the similarity of symptoms to those of other sleep disorders. A veterinarian will undertake a thorough physical examination and may recommend additional tests such as blood work, urinalysis, and imaging to eliminate any underlying health issues. In certain cases, the veterinarian may also recommend a sleep study to monitor the dog’s sleeping patterns and behaviors.

Treatment for Sleep Paralysis in Dogs

The treatment for sleep paralysis in dogs hinges on the disorder’s underlying cause. If the sleep paralysis is related to REM behavior disorder, the veterinarian may suggest medication to regulate the dog’s muscle movements during sleep. Furthermore, addressing underlying health issues such as cognitive dysfunction or brain tumors may alleviate the symptoms of sleep paralysis.


In summary, while sleep paralysis is rare in dogs, they can experience similar symptoms due to other medical conditions. If your dog shows signs of sudden muscle weakness, tremors, or seizures, it is crucial to seek veterinary care immediately. Most dogs can manage their sleep disorders and lead happy and healthy lives with proper diagnosis and treatment.

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