Dog muscle spasms or seizures

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Dog muscle spasms or seizures

This is a discussion on Dog muscle spasms or seizures within the Dog Health forums, part of the Keeping and Caring for Dogs category; Hello, I want to ask a question about my dog. When he gets a fright, like during a roll of thunder and loud noises, or ...

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Old 12-18-2015, 05:09 AM
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Dog muscle spasms or seizures

Hello, I want to ask a question about my dog.

When he gets a fright, like during a roll of thunder and loud noises, or if he is chewing something on his back teeth, he suddenly stops and has an erruption of facial tremors. The muscle contractions happen very, very rapidly at first and ripple all over his head. They gradually slow over a minute or so. This is something strange that does not happen all the time. His body (except the wagging tail) stays still when it happens and he has this perplexed look that sort of says, "I'm not sure what's happening to me so I'll just wait and see". The rest of the body does not shake at all; it's just the head.

The dog, a 2 year old white desexed male staffy is quite healthy according to the vet but was rescued 18 months ago after having been starved. He has always had these weird head muscle contractions.

I have read about shock to the cranial nerves in the head and mouth being a possible cause of this. Also canine stress syndrome, but it doesn't fit because the spasms have direct causes (noises and biting on things) and don't happen on their own.

Any opinions would be greatly appreciated.

Thank you.
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Old 12-18-2015, 01:26 PM
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It sounds like they could be focal seizures. Are you able to get a video to show your vet? If they're triggered by storms or loud noises a Thundershirt may be helpful. I know some dogs that those work really well on.
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Old 12-18-2015, 02:05 PM
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Originally Posted by ShilohsMom View Post
It sounds like they could be focal seizures. Are you able to get a video to show your vet? If they're triggered by storms or loud noises a Thundershirt may be helpful. I know some dogs that those work really well on.
Yes I have tried a thundershirt and a lot of other things, including tranquilizers. When he bites on something I thought perhaps his teeth nerves were jangling, but this doesn't explain why it happens other times.

I do have a video of it but again, the dog has been found to be very healthy.
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Old 12-21-2015, 08:22 AM
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To me it looks like a focal seizure. You can search YouTube videos and see if it looks like what your dog is going through. What has your vet said? Shiloh has had grand mal seizures for 5 1/2 years and was diagnosed with idiopathic epilepsy which means there is no known medical cause to explain why he has them. Blood work looks good, MRI showed no brain tumor, spinal tap, etc. If what he's having are focal seizures and he's had more than a few the vet will more than likely get him on anti seizure meds. The more seizures a dog has, the more likelihood they can increase in frequency because the brain will see the seizure as a normal behavior, it's called mirroring, so getting control in really important. Let me know how it goes, these can be really scary, but a dog can live a long happy life with seizures.
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Old 12-22-2015, 08:34 AM
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ShilosMom, I just read your post about your dog having seizures. My dog is having seizures and I am wondering what kind of meds you have your dog on? And how well are they working? Are there side effects? My dog is 11 years old, and his seizures include the paddling, the drooling, peeing, then the confusion and weakness. They are getting closer together too, (about every 2 weeks) so we're going to have to do something, and pray he doesn't have a brain tumor. Looking forward to hearing back from you.
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Old 12-22-2015, 08:42 AM
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Seizures are sometimes really hard to find what is causing them. Remmy started having seizures when he was four years old. He had them every month or so so the Vet did not put him on any medication. They started to get a little closer over the next couple of years, then they all of a sudden stopped. He went over a year, then had one, but again has gone months since he had the last one. The Vet says they seldom just stop like that but could find no reason for him having them in the first place. He was 8 years old last October, still does Agility and checks out healthy in every way.
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Old 12-22-2015, 08:59 AM
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Wow - they stopped? I had read if it's about once a month that the vet might wait to put them on meds - Jacks seizures have gone from about every 3 weeks to 2 weeks and a few days. We are constantly watching him, and this morning my husband leaned over and petted him, then here he went. Last one was December 5, today is December 22. So that's 2 per month. I don't see this stopping though, although I pray it does.
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Old 12-22-2015, 09:56 AM
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There are generally 8 reason why pups shake:
  1. Happy,Excited Shakes
  2. Anxious, Fearful Shakes
  3. Generalized Tremor Syndrome (GTS)
  4. Distemper
  5. Poison
  6. Kidney Disease
  7. Addison’s Disease
  8. Age
Tremors, different than shaking, can be:
  • Idiopathic
  • Genetic
  • Trauma/Injury
  • Congenital
  • Drug side-effect
  • Severe weakness or pain
  • Kidney failure
  • Hypoglycemia
  • Toxicity
  • Inflammation
  • Nervous system disease

Last edited by TruckersMom; 12-22-2015 at 10:01 AM.
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Old 12-22-2015, 03:37 PM
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Originally Posted by jaragr View Post
ShilosMom, I just read your post about your dog having seizures. My dog is having seizures and I am wondering what kind of meds you have your dog on? And how well are they working? Are there side effects? My dog is 11 years old, and his seizures include the paddling, the drooling, peeing, then the confusion and weakness. They are getting closer together too, (about every 2 weeks) so we're going to have to do something, and pray he doesn't have a brain tumor. Looking forward to hearing back from you.
Has your dog just started having seizures? Have you taken him to a neurologist or gotten an MRI done? I was told that typically if a dog starts having seizures after the age of around 5 there is usually something causing it, such as brain tumor. Don't want to scare you, and it doesn't mean that is what's going on with your dog, there can be a lot of things that cause seizures, but what the vet would suggest for you would be different than Shiloh cause his seizures started at 4 1/2.

Shiloh started out on Phenobarbital for the first few years until his liver started to fail and he was removed. He's been on Keppra, Potassium Bromide and Zonisamide. The Keppra was removed because it really had no affect on him. We haven't been able to get control of his seizures and he still clusters about once a month, anywhere from 2-12 in a three day period. Most of the side effects of the drugs would be wobbliness, increased hunger or being a bit lithargic but usually goes away after they've been on meds a few weeks. Some of them like Phenobarbital can affect liver. Blood work is usually done every 6-12 months to make sure drug levels are where they're supposed to be and organs are functioning properly.

I'm really sorry you and your dog are going through this. It's really hard to watch them and feel so helpless. Keep a journal if your not already with the date and time. The length of the seizure, anything out of the ordinary, etc. that will be really helpful for your vet. In Shiloh's journal I write the seizures info in red and use black to keep track of appointments, med changes, etc. It makes it easier to distinguish seizure activity from other stuff. You might also look to see if anything around your house has changed such as new smelly stuff (detergents, air freshners, cleaning supplies), did you change or add anything new to his diet, is he stressed/anxious, etc. Sometimes, especially when dogs get older they can become anxious and with the holidays coming up people tend to be busier with more activity.

Feel free to PM me if you'd like to chat or need some support off the boards. I know how hard this is. Please let me know how things go or you have any other questions.
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Old 12-23-2015, 08:38 AM
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