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How (and what) do dogs dream?

2024-02-21T05:13:01.251Z

Highlights: Dogs dream and they do it in a similar way to people. They experience the REM (Rapid Eyes Movement) phase, which is characterized by rapid eye movement and increased electrical activity in the brain. Small dogs tend to have shorter and more frequent dreams than larger dogs, and those of breeds such as the pointer. Each animal has its own way of dreaming and sleeping, and it cannot be said that animals do not feel, evaluate and store their thoughts so they can be used in the future.


Dogs also have nightmares and can suffer from insomnia. During their dream activity, which varies depending on the size of the animal, they remember experiences from their wakefulness, which can be translated into body movements and vocal expressions.


Dogs dream and they do it in a similar way to people.

Dogs also experience the REM (Rapid Eyes Movement) phase, which is characterized by rapid eye movement and increased electrical activity in the brain.

“Dogs typically enter REM sleep between 20 and 40 minutes after falling asleep.

At that moment, breathing is irregular, the eyes move and the body relaxes, but the mind is more active,” explains Juan Antonio Aguado, veterinarian at the Montepríncipe clinic in Madrid.

In addition to this, there is great similarity between people and dogs when it comes to sleeping.

“Humans do not have a monopoly on dreams.

The wave patterns that show brain activity during rest are exactly the same for both,” says the veterinarian.

Dogs, just like when humans sleep, relive what they experience during their waking states.

“It is likely that they dream about their owners, walks, their toys or their favorite food and they do so when they are in the SWS (Slow Wave Sleep) phase, which is the deepest phase of sleep,” explains Aguado, who describes this moment of sleep. rest: “It lacks rapid eye movements and is characterized by a slow oscillation of brain waves in the neocortex.”

Canine dreams can be translated not only into body movements, but also into vocal expressions.

“When he contracts his mouth, he may dream of catching a ball, eating or licking its owner;

If he contracts his legs, he may relive moments of play, but he may also moan or bark,” adds the specialist.

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The dog's nightmares

Dogs can have dreams that worry them, such as when remembering scary moments.

“They may growl, bark or whine;

wake up defensive, scared or aggressive, so in those moments you should not wake them, since they can attack by not distinguishing between dream and reality," advises Aguado.

Dogs are diurnal animals and a peculiarity is that they dream differently depending on their size.

“They sleep an average of 10 hours a day, especially between nine in the afternoon and six in the morning, to which we must add sporadic afternoon naps.

Their dreams can last between one and ten minutes depending on the size of the dog," describes Aguado, who clarifies the differences depending on the breed: "The largest ones dream every 60 or 90 minutes, while the smallest ones do so around every 10 minutes." minutes.

This is because little ones dream more than older ones, since they have more brain activity when they sleep.”

Other particular behaviors when dreaming depending on the breed and size of the dog have to do with its length and content: “Small dogs tend to have shorter and more frequent dreams than larger dogs, and those of breeds such as the pointer. They can point out the location of their prey as if they were awake.”

An adult dog sleeping with its owner.Lourdes Balduque (Getty Images)

Dogs can sleep poorly due to various health problems, such as those mentioned by the veterinarian: “Osteoarthrosis, heart or respiratory failure, metabolic alterations, as well as issues associated with aging, such as cognitive dysfunction syndrome, similar to human Alzheimer’s.”

The benefits of dreaming

Dreaming fulfills biological functions that promote the health of all mammals.

“It serves to restore physical and psychological functions and to be ready for the next day.

Furthermore, sleep is essential for the consolidation of memory and learning, which is why animals have the same capacity to dream as people," says Miguel Ibáñez, professor emeritus of the Faculty of Veterinary Medicine at the Complutense University of Madrid (UCM). ).

It is not about dreaming for the sake of dreaming just to rest.

“It is something essential for survival.

In fact, a sleepy animal will always instinctively look for a safe place to sleep,” adds this specialist.

There are no studies that determine that animals lack the ability to abstract their experiences.

“It cannot be said that animals do not feel, evaluate, and store their thoughts so that they can be used in the future,” says the veterinarian, who describes how animals sleep according to their age: “Puppies sleep longer than older dogs, although younger ones do it for shorter periods of time than older ones.”

Each animal has its own way of dreaming and sleeping.

“When they sleep deeply, they may snore or make sounds of well-being, as in the case of cats, similar to purring,” says this specialist, who highlights the importance of sleep in dogs, cats and any mammal for their cognitive development. and adaptation to their environment.

Source: elparis

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