Why Do Dogs Eyes Roll Back When They Sleep

Are you surprised to find your dog’s eye rolling back when he is asleep and pondering if this is something that you need to be concerned about?

A dog will roll back his eyes during his sleep as the result of his sleeping posture, the effect of “third eyelid”, suffering from seizure attack or Entropion, nystagmus disorder and side effects of medication. It could also be part of his REM sleep cycle behavior.

This Is Due To His Sleeping Posture

Your dog, while in sleep, can move his eyeball in a certain position, which is called eyeball rolling back.

This is a reflex action, meaning that it occurs without conscious will on the part of the dog.

It is an involuntary action, meaning that it does not occur in the absence of a particular stimulus. 

It is caused by a sudden change in the pressure or position of the eyeball when the dog is sleeping.

This causes a muscle spasm and contraction in the eye socket that results in the eyeball rolling back. 

The most prevalent cause of this is the sleeping posture.

As A Result Of Nictitating Membrane

The eye rolling could also be caused by nictitating membrane.

Nictitating membrane is also called the “third eyelid” because it covers the eye like a lid. 

It is a transparent membrane that covers the eye and can be moved up and down to cover the eye completely or partially. 

It provides extra protection to the eye and prevents foreign bodies from entering the eye. 

It is a normal part of the anatomy and is usually seen in animals with closed eyes such as cats, reptiles and dogs.

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Suffering From A Seizure

Your dog could be suffering from a seizure if his eyes start to roll back during his sleep. 

That is one of the symptoms of a seizure, and you should also look out for other symptoms such as stiff muscles, drooling or biting.

Seizures can be caused by many things, including head injuries or infections. It may be caused by an internal disorder in the brain. 

The cause of a seizure is not always known, but it can sometimes be associated with some kind of trauma or infection.

If you suspect that your dog is having a seizure, call your veterinarian immediately.

Nystagmus May Be Affecting Your Dog

Nystagmus is involuntary movement, which is usually caused by a disorder of the eyes or brain

The eyelids move rapidly up and down, and sometimes in different directions at the same time.

These are the most common symptoms of nystagmus.

The condition can affect one or both eyes, and may be intermittent or continuous.

An Adverse Medication Reaction

Medications such as painkillers or tranquilizers can possibly cause your dog to roll back his eyes when he is sleeping.

This is probably due to the side effects of the medication.

If you notice this behavior, the best solution is to consult your vet and ask him to find an alternative to the medication.

This is not the only time that dogs can be prone to this kind of problem. Some pets develop this behavior after they have undergone surgery.

This could be a result of swelling or bruising in the area around the eye.

Therefore, if you notice that your dog is rolling back his eye, it would be best to consult with your vet.

This will help you find out the cause of the behavior, as well as to find a solution.

Other common causes of eye’s rolling are: 

  • A foreign body in the eye
  • A scratch on the eye
  • Infection or irritation in the eye
  • Injury to the eye

If you notice any changes in your dog’s eye, it is important that you bring him to a vet immediately.

Entropion (Eyelid Rolling) Occurs In Your Dog

When dogs roll their eyes (entropion), this usually happens as they age and is caused by a weakness in the orbicularis muscle, or by a contraction of the facial nerve. 

It may also occur in puppies due to some form of injury to the eye, or by straining the eyeball while the eyelid is rolled back. 

It occurs most frequently in large dogs, and may be hereditary.

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The REM Cycle Of His Sleep

It is part of a dog’s rapid eye movement (REM) sleep that he will open his eyes wide, roll back his eyes and then close them again.

It may also be noted that you will find some breeds of dogs are more prone to this than others. 

For instance, it is not unusual for a Labrador Retriever to open his eyes wide, but when the light comes on he will close them again.

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