Definition of Narcolepsy
Dogs are infamous for their napping habits. However, sometimes they develop abnormal daytime sleepiness, which is called narcolepsy. Narcolepsy is caused by some disorder of the mechanisms that control sleep – especially the state of deep sleep, also known as rapid eye movements or REM. It probably is genetic in origin. The sleep-wake cycle is disrupted in dogs with narcolepsy, causing tiredness, lethargy, abrupt daytime sleep during normal waking hours and temporary muscle paralysis, collapse or unconsciousness. Most affected dogs recover spontaneously and have no detectable ongoing medical abnormalities, although occasionally some sort of underlying brain disease is found. In most cases, narcolepsy is not life-threatening, nor is it painful. Dogs with this condition don’t even appear to know that they have it, and they typically live a full, normal, high-quality life.