Muscle tremors in dogs

Dogs can shake for a number of reasons. They could be happy, old, scared, chilly, or even hungry. But if your dog is shaking uncontrollably for a long period of time — while still alert — that’s when the shaking is considered muscle tremors. Here’s what you need to know about muscle tremors.

Should I be concerned about muscle tremors in dogs?

If your dog is shivering or shaking intermittently without any other symptoms, give them a few days. Try to interrupt your dog’s tremors with something distracting or fun to see if they’re truly uncontrollable. It’s possible they’re anxious or even just cold. If your dog still has muscle tremors after a day, especially if other symptoms have begun to show, like weakness or vomiting, take your dog to the vet. However, if your dog begins to have uncontrollable muscle tremors that won’t stop, take them to the vet immediately.

What are the potential causes of muscle tremors in dogs?

Muscle tremors in dogs can be caused by any number of things, but these are the most common causes for concern:

  • Poisoning. A number of toxins will cause dogs to shake. They will need to see the vet right away if you suspect they’ve ingested something.
  • Neurological disorders. When a dog loses control of its nerves, they are unable to control shaking as well. A vet can do an MRI to determine the issue.
  • Electrolyte or fluid imbalance. This can be caused by illnesses or dehydration.
  • Generalized Tremor Syndrome, also called Shaker Syndrome. This is mostly seen in small white dogs like Maltese and poodles. The cause is unknown, but it is treated with steroids.
  • Distemper. This virus is typically controlled by vaccinations and treated with supportive care if a dog does contract it. Distemper is incredibly rare.

What are the different versions of muscle tremors in dogs?

Muscle tremors in dogs can range from mild (like just a trembling paw) to severe, making it nearly impossible for your pet to eat or walk. The biggest thing to watch for is your dog’s level of alertness. If they’re alert and trembling, that’s likely muscle tremors. If they’re unresponsive and shaking, that could be a seizure.

What are the next steps and tests for muscle tremors in dogs?

Some dogs do have tremors from time to time, but if these tremors are not easily interrupted, it might be a problem. If your dog has had uncontrollable muscle tremors that are abnormal for them or that happen out of the blue, take them to the vet. There, they will do a physical examination, blood work, X-rays if necessary, and potentially an MRI or CT scan.

What other symptoms are often associated with muscle tremors in dogs?

Muscle tremors in dogs can result from things as simple as happiness to as complicated as kidney failure. Watch for these other symptoms:

  • Diarrhea
  • Vomiting
  • Limping
  • Pain
  • Weakness
  • Nausea
  • Excessive thirst and urination
  • Behavioral changes
  • Difficulty with normal tasks

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