Can Dogs’ Legs Fall Asleep? Is It Similar to Humans’ Legs Falling Asleep?

Pet Care


February 20, 2024

We’ve all experienced that tingling, needle-like feeling in our legs when they “fall asleep,” and if you’re wondering if dogs and other animals’ legs can also fall asleep, the answer is “yes,” they can.

More often than not, it’s a dog’s hind legs that will fall asleep, but that is not always the case. There are also numerous reasons for their legs to fall asleep, and we’ll go over a few of these in this article.

If you’ve ever wondered if your dog’s legs are falling asleep, you’ve come to the right place.

Can Dogs’ Legs Fall Asleep?

Dogs’ legs fall asleep for the same reason that humans’ legs do—when they lie in the “wrong” position, pressure on certain nerves can cause numbness, and it doesn’t take long for this numbness to occur.

As soon as that pressure is relieved, i.e., when the dog stands up, the numbness starts to go away. The thing is, it doesn’t happen right away.

As the pressure is being relieved, the dog may whimper and limp, but if you give it enough time, the pain will indeed go away because the pressure on the nerve has been removed. Dogs’ legs do not fall asleep because blood flow is cut off to the entire limb; instead, they fall asleep because of the pressure that is put on certain nerves, which causes an almost-instant numbness.

In addition to numbness, dogs can experience other symptoms as well, including pain, tingling, and a “pins-and-needles” feeling that can be extremely uncomfortable. Even though this feeling doesn’t normally last for very long, it can feel a lot longer because the condition is so unpleasant, especially because these things can make it difficult or even impossible to walk the right way.

What Happens When a Dog’s Leg Falls Asleep?

The official name of this condition is paresthesia, and what happens is that once the numbness occurs, the brain cannot communicate with these nerves and therefore, the numbness occurs. Fortunately, the condition normally doesn’t last for more than a few minutes, which means your dog won’t have to put up with it for long. As soon as that pressure is relieved, the numbness starts to disappear.

Keep in mind that even though paresthesia is not that uncommon in dogs, it shouldn’t be happening on a regular basis. If it seems to happen to your dog frequently, especially if it is not lying down for long periods of time right before the numbness begins, there may be another cause for the numbness. If your dog seems to be going through this a lot, you should consult with your vet.

If your dog has other symptoms along with the numbness, getting it checked out with a vet is the smartest thing you can do. Check for symptoms that include vomiting, swelling, fever, or any change in behavior. If any of these symptoms accompany the numbness, you should definitely make an appointment to see your vet. After all, it’s better to be safe than sorry when it comes to your dog’s health.

What Else Could It Be?

If you’re noticing other symptoms along with the paresthesia, it could be something besides this condition, including the following possibilities:

  • Arthritis – Arthritis causes stiffness and pain in the joints, and the symptoms can look just like paresthesia. Other signs it might be arthritis include joints that are warm or swollen, or slower movements when jumping or running.
  • Diabetes – It is common for dogs that have diabetes to have numbness, mainly because it increases the odds that they’ll have nerve damage. And the symptoms of nerve damage are similar to those of paresthesia.
  • Foreign objects stuck in their paws – If a dog has any type of foreign object in their paws, it can cause them to limp and have trouble walking. They can also do this when they have any type of injury anywhere on their body.
  • Lyme Disease – Lyme Disease causes inflammation that makes a dog limp and have trouble walking. When the dog first wakes up, this inflammation is usually more noticeable.
  • Other conditions related to the joints – These can include intervertebral disc disease or hip dysplasia, both of which are fairly common in canines of all types.

In fact, any type of joint problems can mimic the symptoms that are present when a dog’s leg falls “asleep.” It is not always easy to tell the difference between paresthesia and other conditions, which is why consulting with your vet if you aren’t sure yourself is always highly recommended.

Can Cats’ Legs Fall Asleep?

The easy answer to this question is yes, cats’ legs can fall asleep, but in reality, it is not the same condition as it is in humans or in other animals. Some feline experts, in fact, claim that cats’ legs do not fall asleep, although they can experience some numbness if they lie the wrong way for a long period of time.

If your cat seems to be experiencing some lack of mobility in its legs, try massaging it gently to see if that helps. Usually, this numbness is the result of pressure on certain nerves and a lack of blood flow in the legs, which can cause a host of problems.

Just like dogs, however, the problem usually goes away after the cat gets up and starts moving around a little.

If your cat is showing any other symptoms, or the stiffness doesn’t go away quickly, you should consider taking it to the vet to make sure nothing serious is wrong.


Dogs and cats can both experience their limbs falling asleep, but it is less common in cats because the cause of the numbness is different.

The smartest thing you can do is watch your pet carefully to make sure it isn’t experiencing other problems in addition to the numbness. If you notice anything out of the ordinary or you have any concerns whatsoever, it’s time to give your vet a call.

Legs falling asleep is much more common in dogs than cats, and their numbness is similar to the experience that humans have with this condition.