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Is My Dog Seeing Ghosts, Sleep Walking, or Having a Seizure?

I made this video a couple weeks ago after Maybelle experienced another one of her weird late-night “episodes.” Today I brought the video to the vet with us, but we still aren’t sure what’s going on. I’m supposed to keep a log of these episodes, which are pretty infrequent (once every three months or so). My vet — who I love — had one other suggestion for me. If we determine that she’s not having small seizures — or can’t figure out what’s going on — that perhaps we should see an “animal communicator.” Apparently she’s got a couple she trusts and now I just kind of want to go anyway…

Anyway, has anyone ever seen something like this? It fits some of the “small seizure” criteria, but I’m still kind of hoping for ghosts.

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About TheresaMC

Basically, I'm a reader and a writer, just trying to negotiate the changing world of publishing.

24 responses »

  1. Maybelle definitely wants to tell you somethings up. I don’t know about ghosts but dogs have a keen sense of smell. Does your house have a natural gas stove, fireplace or furnace? Many pets have been credited for saving their owners lives by alerting them to a co2 leak. We have a Carbon Monoxide detector that plugs in to an electrical outlet. Since co2 is colourless, odourless (to humans) & toxic, these units are a must for home owners with natural gas appliances.

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    • Good thinking. But this happens about every 3 months or so, and yes, And she settles down after a few minutes, and is fine the next day. I have a natural gas furnace with all the proper detectors surrounding it. No leaks.

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  2. My dog had a similar look and body language when he was hesitant about doing something. It looks like the stairs are hardwood are slippery. My dog fell on stairs like those and was hesitant to use them again until I installed a grip strip to each stepping edge. Probably off base, but I wonder if Maybelle ever “wipes out” on the stairs and then takes awhile to rebuild her confidence to use them? It also appears you may have used food or a treat at the end of the video to coax her down the stairs. Maybe that’s a wrong guess on my part, but if that was the case I’m guessing she’s afraid of the stairs.

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    • She normally never shows any hesitancy with the stairs, which is why this is so abnormal. And no I didn’t use any treats to coax her. I took that video of her going down the stairs the next morning to show her normal response to stairs — and how quickly she seems to recover from the seizure, or whatever is going on here. She does sometimes trip or wipe out on the last few stairs but that doesn’t seem to bother her.

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  3. I have been dealing with my dog precious having siezures for almost a year now. That doesn’t appear to be a siezure. They shake vigerously, their limbs are very stiff, and tipically the front paws tend to curl in. I think it could be a family member or came with the house. The body language is a result of not wanting to disobay his owner. Whom ever it is wants you to know they are there. šŸ™‚

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  4. Oops she many apologies.. very cute as well.

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  5. I’ve been searching for a post such as yours as my dog has had a similar problem since a surgery a year and 1/2 ago. I believe it is a result of the general anesthesia she received. It used to occur once a month then once every 2 months and last night she had an episode after 4 months. They are diminishing in frequency and intensity over time it appears. I think it is a type of sleep walking because if I put my hand over her eyes I can feel rapid eye movement also known as REM sleep. What I do is put a sleeping mask or blindfold over her eyes and make her lie down and this settles her and she will fall asleep in 10- 20 mins. I have a video of her her…

    The video was taken during her 2nd episode…now they are less intense. I have given her a 3mg melatonin in the past which worked but now only use the blindfold.

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    • I can’t see the video but that’s very interesting. Hope they disappear all together.

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    • My 5 year old English Setter has started doing this in the middle of the night. He’s not had any type of anesthesia, but he has been on a drug called Apoquel for a few weeks for allergies/OCD. His behavior is very similar to Maybelle’s. He walks the floor for 15-20 minutes, looking in the bathroom, closet, the bed, and he seems to be checking constantly on my wife, our other dog (who’s out like a light) and me. We called him up on the bed to comfort him, but he stands over us and smells our faces before getting down and moving about. He eventually settles down but seems extremely uneasy about something.

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  6. OMG! My dog has been acting this way in the middle of the night. She starts by walking back and forth on the bed and acts like she is seeing something….she has the same odd body language as your dog. Like she’s afraid of something and not sure where to look. She jumps off the bed and goes downstairs and then comes back up. I tell her to lay down and she paces around the upstairs rooms as if she is looking for something but her head is down like your dog. She acts confused and stressed. Last night she wagged her tail a little while looking at the wall. I live in a house built in 1837 so I assume it’s ghosts (I’m not a believer) but wonder if it’s a seizure or scents from the house that the wind moves around etc. I sometimes smell perfume and am convinced there is a bottle stuck inside a wall somewhere. She has done this a dozen times in her life (she is four now) and has done it the last four nights in a row (it’s been windy here). It’s so strange and takes her 15 minutes to return to normal. Do you live in an older home? Maybe scents are wafting in the air. The fact that my dog only acts this way after being alseep and at night makes me think she is sleepwalking or having a minor seizure. I have epilepsy and only have seizures when sleeping. I would never put a dog on anti-convulsants so will keep a log like you did. Your post is from 2012 so wonder how things have progressed since then. Thanks.

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    • Hi Glenna! Great to hear from someone who had the same experience. After the third episode, this just stopped. I do live in an older house, though not as old as yours, and mine was redone before I moved in. We never really figured out what was going on, but I decided to contact a pet communicator out of curiosity (and with the hopes of writing the story up for a magazine). She had a rather interesting explanation. Perhaps I’ll give up on trying to pitch the story and just post it here.

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    • WOW! Glenna, thank you for posting. You too Theresa! My dog is doing the same thing! He sleeps normally during the day, plays, etc., but then around midnight, he gets up and starts looking all over the house, upstairs, downstairs, head down but like he sees something. I have to keep him in our room with our door closed so he doesn’t wander the house. He’s fallen downstairs a couple of times but hasn’t hurt himself. He’s a 70 pound pit bull. I often wondered if he saw ghosts because he started doing this after my mother-in-law passed. She lived next door. He didn’t do it frequently though until my father-in-law passed a few months ago. Now, he does this 4 nights out of 7. Strange! If I lie down with him and console him, he’ll calm down and go to sleep. It used to be really bad. He would tremble and drool. now he just licks his chops, no trembling or drooling, and he calms down fairly easily. Last night he crawled into his cave bed like he was hiding from something. Wow! They say animals are very sensitive to spirit. And we’ve had evidence, in a good way, of mom and dad visiting so I’m wondering… Otherwise, he’s a very healthy dog.

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  7. Our dog started doing the same thing two nights after a dental cleaning. The ER said nothing was wrong and that he was probably suffering from anesthesia still in his system and was a little dehydration. He had another episode last night, months after this dental cleaning. We are headed out to a different vet, armed with information. It certainly looks like Old Dog Vestibular Disease. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tUWRXUinWBY&app=desktop

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    • I showed the vet a video of Chas during his episode and she said it appears to be a seizure. She said there are different types of seizures, which is why he didn’t fall over, lose consciousness and twitch around. Stroke is also possible. Keeping him calm seems to be key in helping him recover. He got a short walk, is wearing his thunder shirt and I gave him some Bach Rescue Remedy. He seems very peaceful and resting now.

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  8. I all, I too have a dog that really acts like she is sleepwalking. She usually wakes up because she needs to go to the bathroom but she walks around like she is scared and is in a new place, which is not the case. She wont actually bump into anything but its like she is having a hard time seeing and navigating. Our vet suggested a very costly route and we ended up just holding off. We saw some levels in her bloodwork were high but other than that- nothing abnormal. I have a weird feeling that it is her tick medication (frontline) but hard to tell. It happens to randomly but usally happens 2 or three nights in a row and then not again for atleast a month.

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    • This is similar to what my dog experiences. It has been 3 years now and began after her surgery for tumor removals (which did not grow back fortunately). I believe it was caused by the general anesthesia. It has diminished in frequency from monthly to once every 6-9 months now. I give her some benadryl to make her drowsy and she goes back to sleep. Hopefully it will go away with more time or become even less frequent.

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    • Any other meds? My 5 yo Eng. Setter has started doing this the past two nights, and while we just administered the most recent Frontline yesterday (he’s been on it the two years we’ve had him with no such behavior), he has been on Apoquel for allergies for a few weeks.

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  9. Thank you all for making me feel like I’m not crazy. My dog has similar episodes. He will jump out of a sound sleep as if his bed bit him. Then he will alternate between pacing, sitting, and whining. Only happens in the middle of the night and the episodes are usually infrequent but the last two episodes were about a week or two apart. I don’t think it’s related to ghosts but I fully understand why some would come to that conclusion since the behavior is VERY weird. He had surgery about a year and a half ago so the anesthesia comments have made me curious. It does seem to have started shortly after that.
    Since this is an older thread I’m curious if any of you have found reasons or solutions. Thanks for sharing. It’s the only web page I found that is spot on with my dog’s symptoms.

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    • Yamina, I actually recently got a definitive answer. My dog had not had one of these episodes in years. Then she went on some new medications and after a few days this started happening every night for hours on end. We took her off the Niacinamide she was on, and the episodes stopped. Apparently, this supplement can cause tingling in the limbs in rare cases (and can usually be stopped by adjusting the dose). So I asked about the older episodes and the vet told me that some dogs have similar tingling sensations from some flea and tick meds.

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      • Interesting point about the flea and tick meds. I hadn’t considered that as a possiblility. I think I may start keeping a diary of the episodes. Glad the episodes have stopped for you. Thanks.

    • If you read my 2 posts you will see that it started after surgery with my dog to and I blame the general anesthesia for it and it still is happening occasionally 5 years later. How I deal with it is I feed her something that makes her feel full (carrots) because dogs naturally want to sleep after eating and it works…she settles down quickly after and goes to sleep.

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      • I am leaning towards the anesthesia being a possible reason. Thanks for the suggestion of a snack. I feel so helpless (and exhausted) when it happens so I’ll happily give that a try. Thanks.

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