Dogs dream of running

Dog shrugs

Your dog often twitches with individual parts of its body or does it flinch completely? You can find out what possible causes this can have and when it becomes questionable here.

Dog shrugs: this is normal

If a fly settles on its skin or it itches anywhere, it is normal for your dog to twitch. The same applies if you tickle him or if he is unexpectedly splashed with water. Many dogs twitch in their sleep when they are dreaming. If your dog steps into a puddle or fresh snow, he may well twitch his paw and shake it to get rid of the stimulus.

In an exciting or stressful situation, nervous behavior can occur, with sudden licking or brief twitching. As long as this is only occasional, there is nothing to worry about. Your dog winced because he was frightened? This is a perfectly normal reaction and you will usually see what scared him.

The so-called panniculus reflex can be triggered on the dog's back: If you stroke the dog's side of the spine, the muscles in the back and trunk twitch. B. serves to repel insects.

When do I have to worry?

Is your dog twitching? Your dog twitches like an electric shock and you can't see a trigger? Your dog is constantly twitching uncontrollably, maybe shaking, strong tremors or muscle cramps? Does your dog show further signs of illness or is no longer responsive? These are all indications that you should definitely show your darling to a veterinarian! There are various pathological causes that should be clarified.

Causes of Convulsions in Dogs

Possible causes for your dog to twitch are

  • Pain: If you touch an aching part of the body, the dog will pull it away or twitch it briefly.
  • Diseases of the nervous system: seizures that can only affect one part of the body or the whole body are caused by nerve cells that are too excitable. The exact cause cannot always be found. Read more about canine epilepsy here.

Even with hyperesthesia, a nervous hypersensitivity, the dog twitches with the body part.

There are other nerve and brain disorders that cause the dog to twitch, such as: B Paralysis or impaired conduction of stimuli from the nerves to the muscle. If the oxygen supply is too low or there is a lack of nutrients in the brain, muscle twitching or seizures can occur.

  • Many different symptoms can occur as part of a distemper infection. If the disease mainly affects the nervous system, there are so-called “distemper ticks”, which are muscle twitching in the area of ​​the chewing muscles up to cramps, as well as epileptic seizures, paralysis and walking in circles.
  • Poisoning: Signs of poisoning may include muscle tremors and twitching in the dog. These also occur if poisoning has existed for a long time (chronic poisoning). Metabolic disorders of the liver or kidneys can lead to "self-poisoning" - the body's own substances that have not been processed or excreted can then trigger cramps.
  • Incorrectly dosed or incorrectly taken medication can sometimes result in the dog twitching or cramping.
  • Birth: Shortly before or during birth, pregnant bitches can experience shifts in the electrolyte balance (salts such as sodium, calcium, etc.). If this occurs before birth, the result is restlessness and anxiety, awkward gait and twitching of the head, especially of the lips and eyelids.

When this turns into real eclampsia (sudden seizures during or after birth when the puppies are already drinking), the twitching spreads, spasms, saliva, wheezing, eye tremors and reduced consciousness occur. Smaller bitches are more likely to be affected than medium to large ones. This is due to the fact that in small dogs the puppies are larger in comparison to the body mass of the bitch and they put more stress on their metabolism.

  • Metabolic problems: An undersupply of calcium leads to increased excitability of the nerve cells. The dog twitches its head (especially on the face and ears), rubs its face on paws or objects and nibbles on its paws. Muscle cramps, a stiff gait, and seizures can also occur. Excitement and stress can make symptoms worse.

In theory, rabies infection, along with many other symptoms such as B. salivation or aggression, cause the dog to twitch. In purely practical terms, however, this should not be a problem, because rabies is considered to be eradicated in Germany. There have been no cases for years. (Depending on the country, this infectious disease still exists abroad.) Your dog is protected against this if it is vaccinated regularly.

The same applies to tetanus: an infection can also trigger convulsions. However, this disease is extremely rare in dogs.

Dog shrugs: diagnosis of the cause & therapy

If your dog twitches often or even has seizures, the vet will go into search of the cause. In addition to a thorough clinical examination, special examinations of the nervous system are usually necessary and useful, as well as a blood test to check the metabolism and electrolyte balance.

Depending on what triggers the dog to twitch, the vet will adjust the treatment accordingly. Precise diagnosis of epilepsy in particular can be very complex and in the meantime unsatisfactory - don't let yourself be discouraged! With the right therapy, your dog can feel much better and the seizures subside.

Special case of euthanasia

The nightmare of many pet owners is that they have to have their pet euthanized. It gets even worse when there are reactions such as B. muscle twitching and spasms occur. However, this happens very rarely due to prior sedation and anesthesia. The animal will also not notice any of this, as the anesthesia eliminates any consciousness or pain.

In fact, muscle twitching can occur after the animal dies. B. with the leg. These are autonomous, i.e. not controlled by the brain, reactions of the muscles. Please do not worry: these are no signs of life, the brain and heart are no longer working.

My dog ​​twitches: conclusion

If your dog twitches, it can have very different causes and does not necessarily have to be pathological. But keep an eye on it. If it occurs regularly or even if you see cramps and / or other symptoms, please see your vet promptly

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