Muscle spasms in dogs: what to do?

29-07-2020
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Although muscle spasms in dogs are not life-threatening, they can be painful. Their onset may indicate a more serious illness and require medical intervention.

Muscle spasms in dogs can occur as a result of a localized problem. They are usually the result of excessive strain, neurological damage, or physical injury.

While spasms are not inherently dangerous, they can still be painful, especially if they persist for a long time. They can also indicate more serious disease,  such as a pinched nerve, a slipped spinal disc, or muscle damage.

Some diseases that cause muscle spasms in dogs are directly related to neurological disorders. These often cause seizures.

What are muscle spasms?

It is important to know that convulsions in dogs, whether they have epilepsy or not, are made up of a multitude of recurring muscle spasms. The origin of these spasms is based on electrical activity in the brain.

On the other hand, muscle spasms in dogs can also occur (and they do) when not associated with seizures. When they appear in isolation, it usually means a less serious symptom.

Therefore, it is good to know the specific cause of the dog’s muscle spasms, before trying to treat him independently.

We are now going to tell you about the aspects you should take into account when taking your dog to see a veterinarian for suspected muscle spasms.

Causes of muscle spasms in dogs

First of all, remember that there is not just one reason for muscle spasms in dogs. Each cause has its own set of symptoms and means of treatment.

A sleeping bulldog.

1. Muscle contractions during sleep

During the deep sleep phase , the dog’s brain exhibits a greater level of activity, which could explain why some dogs (and humans) move a lot when they sleep.

If you start to think that your dog is having a seizure while sleeping, try to wake him up carefully. If nothing happens, the dog will immediately shake itself. However, if he does have a non-epileptic seizure, it will be much more difficult to wake him up.

2. Injuries

The muscles, bones, veins, nerves and cartilage of dogs come together to form a complex system. Problems with the muscles often coincide or cause problems with the joints.

When a joint or muscle in a dog’s body is damaged, the muscles around it will flex or harden, which can look like spasms. Usually these injuries will cause the dog to limp or change gait.

In the event of trauma to the head, an impaired capacity of the brain can incorrectly calibrate the movement of the legs. This then leads to muscle spasms in dogs.

3. Hypoglycemia

Although this is an uncommon side effect, the low blood sugar level in hypoglycemic dogs can cause muscle spasms and seizures.

4. Excessive effort

A tired white dog.

When a dog plays or runs too hard or for too long,  his muscles can suffer from this heavy activity. Time spent outdoors without water will cause severe dehydration or heatstroke in dogs, which is also associated with seizures.

5. Poisoning

Poisoning is common in dogs because they tend to taste substances that are not intended for their consumption.

Swaying movements, which are a defining characteristic of canine poisoning, are often mistaken for muscle spasms. If left untreated, poisoning in dogs can lead to poor kidney function and serious complications.

6. Common cold

It is a viral illness that affects puppies and dogs without up to date vaccines and can cause symptoms such as muscle spasms.

7. Canine stress syndrome

It is a neurological disorder that certain breeds, such as Labrador  retriever,  are likely to experience. Studies have shown that it can also be caused by excessive exercise in dogs.

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