Don’t Wake Your Pet from a Nightmare and Other Pet Dreaming Tips


World Dream Day is September 25, and this isn’t just a holiday for humans to celebrate. Research shows that cats and dogs dream too.

To help make World Dream Day the best it can be for pets, PEOPLE interviewed certified applied animal behaviorist Dr. Carley Faughn, Ph.D., CAAB, who works with Best Friends Animal Society — a leading animal rescue organization in the work to end the killing of dogs and cats in America’s shelters by 2025.

According to Dr. Faughn, during their cat naps and dog dozes, pets do dream.

“Research has demonstrated that animals dream, and this has been supported by electrophysiological evidence, observations of the behavior of animals while they sleep, and narcoanalytical studies,” she said.

“Humans and mammals have similar sleep cycles, and we know that when humans enter REM sleep — also known as the rapid eye movement stage of sleep — this is when dreaming occurs. Given that most mammals also go into deep sleep and REM, it is suggested that they dream as well,” Dr. Faughn added.


Researchers also have theories about the content that likely makes up the dreams of dogs, cats, and other mammals.

“A study conducted in 2001 with rats looked at the part of their brain that is engaged when completing a maze task. When looking at that same part of the brain when rats were sleeping, researchers could see the same part of the brain being engaged and concluded that the rats were dreaming about their previous experiences within the maze,” Dr. Faughn shared.

Like humans, per Dr. Faughn, other mammals likely dream about what they know, which means there is a high chance that pet parents appear in their furry friends’ dreams.

“Since sleep cycles and REM sleep are known to occur in most mammals, including our cats and dogs, it is suggested that they dream like us. Humans dream about their own personal experiences. Even if these dreams escalate into adventures that are unrealistic to occur in our day-to-day life, these dreams are still connected to our experiences, interactions, and activities that we engage in. Therefore, it is suggested that pets dream in a similar fashion — based on their day-to-day experiences. It is likely that their humans could appear in their dreams since we are with them so much and care for them,” Dr. Faughn explained.

Unfortunately, the ability to dream comes with the occasional nightmare for humans and probably pets too.

“It can be difficult to know whether your pet is having a good or bad dream. However, a nightmare, or bad dream, might be accompanied by more whining, yelping, or even growling for dogs,” Dr. Faughn said.

Pet parents who suspect their cuddly companion is having a nightmare might be moved to wake their animal, but Dr. Faughn warned this often isn’t the best choice.

“If you do awaken your pet from any dream, then it’s best to go about slowly and use your voice to calmly try to awaken them. If you interrupt a pet during sleep, whether or not they are dreaming, you could startle your pet, which could cause an overreaction from them, resulting in a nip or bite,” she said.

RELATED VIDEO: Owner Holds Dog in Arms and Rocks Them to Sleep

And while there is no surefire way to prevent nightmares in pets, Dr. Faughn shared, there are actions pet parents can take to help their animals rest easier.

“Because researchers believe that pets dream about their personal experiences, we can help our pets to have pleasant and positive experiences in our everyday interactions with them,” she shared.

Never miss a story — sign up for PEOPLE’s free daily newsletter to stay up-to-date on the best of what PEOPLE has to offer, from juicy celebrity news to compelling human interest stories.

“It is critical for any pet parent to understand what your pet likes and dislikes; then you can focus on incorporating activities that they do enjoy with your daily routines. The more positive experiences we can give our pets, the more we contribute to their overall well-being and encourage sweet dreams.”


Source link

Leave a Comment