June 19, 2020 4 min read

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Does your dog sleep but still have their eyes open? This is a common behavior in dogs. This may be their way of making sure that everything around them is still okay, but there may be a medical issue that is causing these problems. If your dog has just started sleeping with their eyes open, it would be best to see your vet. They can examine your dog and make sure that there is nothing going on. 

How Is a Dog’s Eye Different From a Human Eye?

Dog’s eyes are similar to peoples, but they do have some differences. Dogs do have sharper vision than most humans. Some dogs, however, are like people and do not have very good vision. They, however, do not wear glasses or contacts to help them see better.

Dogs have a third eyelid. This is another membrane that keeps their eye moist and wipes away any dirt or dust that can land on the surface eyeball. Humans have evolved away from having a third eyelid, because we are capable of wiping the dust from our eye with our hands while dogs cannot, thus requiring a third eyelid. A dog’s third eyelid is only capable of blinking when the eyes are closed and will retract when they open. What people are actually seeing when their dog is sleeping with its eyes open is usually their third eyelid.  

Why Does My Dog Sleep With its Eyes Open?

There are many reasons that your dog may be sleeping with his eyes open.  This may be a normal thing, but this can be due to something medical.  If this has just started, it would be best to take your dog to see your vet.  They can make sure that there is nothing medically causing them to sleep with their eyes open.


If your dog is dreaming, they may sleep with their eyes open. This may often be accompanied by twitching of their legs. This commonly occurs when your dog is in a deep sleep state. This is theorized to be an evolutionary trait as that deep sleep would have left a wild dog vulnerable.


A seizure will look different from dreaming despite them having some similarities.  With a seizure, your dog will be tense, and often with snapping jaws instead of a relaxed look.  Your dog may moan or howl and make noises of distress.  One of the quick ways to tell if it is a seizure or a dream is to call their name. A dreaming dog will wake up and come to you, while a dog in the midst of a seizure will be unable to get up. 

If your dog is having a seizure, make sure their area is safe and comfortable by clearing out anything that could hurt them.  Try to speak to your dog in a very soft and reassuring voice.  Try not to make any loud sounds or noises that would startle your dog.  

Your dog will be disoriented, so keep speaking to him in a calm manner is the best. After your dog has had a seizure, it would be best for them to see a vet.  They may want to run bloodwork or other tests to figure out what has caused your dog to have a seizure.  

If your dog does have seizures, you can use CBD Oil to help.  CBD is a natural anti-convulsant and can be used to help prevent or ease seizures.  They also have many other great benefits to help keep your dog healthy.  

Other Conditions That Can Cause Dogs Eyes to be Open During Sleep

There are other medical conditions that can cause your dog to have to sleep with their eye open. These are two possible medical conditions that we commonly see in dogs causing them to sleep with their eyes open.

Cherry eye

A cherry eye is the layman’s term for a swollen 3rd eyelid gland.  This gland in your dog’s third eyelid will become swollen red, looking like a large cherry, thus giving it the name cherry eye.  This is a common genetic abnormality seen in bulldogs or other smashed faced dogs.  This condition usually requires surgery to fix the issue.  This rarely is corrected on its own. 


This is the medical term meaning that your dog cannot close its eye fully. This is usually because the globe of the eye is too big for the eyelids to close around the eye. This can be due to genetics or an underlying disease such as glaucoma. If your dog has suddenly started sleeping with their eye open and the eye looks like it is bigger, it would be best to have a vet look at the eye. They can make sure that there is nothing wrong with this eye.

If your dog is sleeping with their eyes open, this may be just their way of keeping a watch on things while they are asleep, but there may also be a medical problem going on. Your vet can examine your dog and make sure that their eyes are in great shape and that there is nothing else going on.  

Your dog sleeping with their eyes open may be perfectly normal. By keeping a close watch on your dog’s eyes, you can quickly spot any issues. It is always better to make sure that your dog is healthy and not miss a medical issue.


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Meet The Author

Dr. Sara Ochoa author of Why is my dogs eyes open

Dr. Sara Ochoa DVM

Since she was a little girl, she knew that her dream was to become a veterinarian. With a tremendous passion and love for animals that makes her a great source of knowledge for others. She lives happily with her husband Greg and her babies Ruby the Schnoodle, and Bam-Bam the bunny.