Sleep Disorders Can Be Serious for Pets

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A recent video on YouTube showing a sleepwalking dog that runs into a wall may be comical but it also highlights potentially serious sleep disorders that can affect pets, according to a press release by Texas A&M University's College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences. The video, titled "Sleepwalking Fail," shows a sleeping dog that starts to "run" in his sleep, only to suddenly jump up and run head first into a wall. According to the press release, the dog is most likely displaying signs of a sleep disorder and it could be a dangerous condition. The press release notes that the two sleep disorders most dangerous to an animal's health are narcolepsy and cataplexy. "These two sleep disorders are usually a congenital and inherited condition that can be brought on by excitement such as playing, eating, drinking or greeting owners and can last seconds to minutes, many times a day, or infrequently," said Dr. M.A. Crist, clinical assistant professor at Texas A&M College of Veterinary Medicine. Narcolepsy is a neurological disorder caused by the brain's inability to regulate sleep-wake cycles normally. It's often associated with sudden sleep attacks, insomnia, dream-like hallucinations and a condition called sleep paralysis. According to the press release, if your pet suffers from narcolepsy or cataplexy and is left alone or unattended near water, it could possibly drown.