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Head tremors in dog
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jessi19661 posted:
Hello, I am glad they decided to have this board, how great!!

I have a boxer/american bulldog (we THINK, not sure), the name of the crossbreed is bulloxer or bull boxer. My hubby worked at the humane shelter last year, and he and another puppy like him were dropped off in the country and brought to the shelter....WELL, my hubby fell in love with him and brought him home to me. And I too, fell in puppy love, immediately!! He is adorable, fawn and white with pink spots on his muzzle!! He is healthy and a year and a half old. Last July, I noticed him banging in the door so I went to look out. His head was shaking uncontrollably!! He was fully concious, and responded to me so I brought him inside. He sat down and the seizure continued, but only his head is involved. No chewing, biting, or foaming at the mouth, no loss of conciousness. It lasted a couple minutes and that was it. He was totally fine after. He slept, but nothing unusual. This happened again the other day, my husband was there. Then about 12+ hours later he had another one, that night. This one lasted longer and the other dogs knew something was wrong and were coming around to see. He growled at them and I barricaded with a chair so they couldnt get close. He is conscious and aware during this all. I got him to lie down on his side with head lying on floor, and soon it stopped. I researched online and found that this can be common in some bull breeds and even boxers. But just was called "head tremors" and not an actual seizure. It said that this does not harm the dog, and is not epilepsy.

Does anyone know anything about this? I just read on this site that it is actually a "focal seizure" and that it indicates a brain lesion.

So is this harmful or not???? Thanks
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Becky2221 responded:
I can't answer your question, but I have a similar experience. I have a foster pug who was hit by a car a week ago. She has nerve damage to her front leg and right eye and I've noticed her head trembling. It's just a slight tremble, almost like a shiver, but she's not cold. She doesn't seem to be in pain, is otherwise active, eating well, etc. I'm still worried about this, though. Could it be head trauma not earlier detected? Thanks.
 
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Kathy_Snyder_DVM_DACVIM responded:
Hi Jessi,

Sounds like you've found some good information. You're right--there is a condition that is fairly common in Boxers, English bulldogs, and Dobermans called idiopathic head tremors. The dogs with this condition usually shake their heads up and down or from side to side for a few minutes then stop. They're normal both before and after the event and seem aware and responsive during the head tremors. Some of these dogs can also be distracted DURING and event by you calling their name, loud noises, etc. and stop tremoring for just a second.

There's currently no consensus on why these tremors occur or the proper treatment for them. Vets have tried anti-seizure medications because (as you stated) one theory is that these are "partial" seizures. There are mixed feelings about if dogs respond to these drugs or not. It's hard to judge because they are often so random as to when they occur.

The most important thing would be to make sure that this ISN'T some other, more serious condition. It's definitely worth a good neurological examination by your veterinarian. A dog with idiopathic head tremors should be normal on exam unless they're having an episode at that moment. Your vet may also want to run bloodwork to make sure there isn't a problem with his calcium, glucose, or other lab values (although given the long history this is less likely).

If it's truly the idiopathic head tremor condition, then it's not life-threatening--may just be annoying/concerning for you. Unfortunately the only way we can diagnose this condition is by NOT finding anything else wrong.

To answer the second response on this thread, unless the Pug had head tremors before, I'd be HIGHLY suspicious that some type of head trauma occured as a result of being hit by a car. Usually these types of changes will improve after a few weeks, but can take a few months to see how much improvement will occur. Periodic neurological examinations by your vet may be helpful to see how much permanent damage may or may not be present.
 
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Kathy_Snyder_DVM_DACVIM responded:
Sorry--one more thought.

I'd also be much more worried that the Pug is having true seizures and needs to be on an anti-seizure medication, at least temporarily while the brain heals. Definitely worth giving your vet a call to see what they think.
 
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jessi19661 responded:
Thank you for your reply!! By the way, his name is Scooby Doo. In the past couple days he has had the tremors twice. First one lasted several minutes, like 10-15 minutes!! This was alarming for it to continue so long. Then last night he had one again, lasting maybe 5 minutes or more. He is normal before and after. It happens when he is sleeping and is arroused, usually by me making noise or something. I am a bit worried at the length of time for these most recent ones. I really appreciate that a vet answered me, it is comforting. Money is tight, but I am gonna have hubby call our vet just to be sure Scooby is ok. THANKS!
 
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jmerenee responded:
I have experience with head tremors in my bulldog. We originally took him to vet that referred us to a neurologist (who knew dogs had neurologists?). Let's just say that a 2 week stay in the hospital, tons of medication, a CAT scan, spinal tap, MRI and about $6000 later, they basically told us that they didn't know why he was having them. Coincidentally while he was in the hospital he had one of his anal glads abcess and needed to have surgery. To make a really long story short... They prescribed him meds for epilepsy. We kept him on these for about 6 months, paying a neurologist to follow up on him and it was really expensive and made him a virtual vegetable sleeping constantly! I did lots of internet research and decided to discontinue the epilepsy drugs. I found some varying opinions to why bulldogs have head tremors and this is now the one that I personally subscribe to. Pain. My dog was in pain. He had the anal gland issue and he started to have tremors. When that was taken care of he didn't have another for a year, AFTER he pulled a muscle in his back leg while trying to jump on the bed. He had one this morning 2 weeks after being neutered and for the past few weeks having noticeably stopped jumping (he may have pulled another muscle). I'm sure in some dogs they can call it "idiopathic seizures" but in my dogs case I believe it is from a painful experience. You can find some websites that will agree with this theory as well but not many of them are vets. They are mostly people who have watched their dogs and can point out a traumatic event with each tremor. It's just my 2 cents!
 
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ashleigh1013 responded:
Hi. My boyfriends dog, Sam, is mostly a lab mixed with colli and some others but he is also having head tremors. Sam randomly became sensitive to loud noises such as fireworks, guns, thunderstorms, ect. Then he started having the head tremors. We thought it could be his food so we switched him to organic foods and it seemed to help but then the tremors came back. Also, I have noticed that his back legs seem to have a slight limp on both sides and they are positioned different (no accidents). His butt area is also more tickelish and his mood is a little more aggressive. This is why i think its all neuro related. Does anyone have any idea about his legs or have the same issue with dogs with head tremors? Thanks
 
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Blitzman responded:
My dog is 4 years old. He is a Yellow Lab/Chow mix (probably has more in him as well). He has been having head tremors for his whole life. At first we were very scared of the tremors, and thought they might be small seizures. However, the tremors never seems to go past just head shaking. He was always conscious and alert during them, but seemed scared. The vets did full blood work, and found nothing wrong, so they told use to do the $5000 MRI and to take him to a neurologist. We put him on Phenobarbital for a couple of months and it did nothing to stop the problem. Plus, I hated him being on prescription medication if there was no real reason for it., After doing a lot of research online, I saw that this is a common problem among labs. We learned that it may have something to do with blood sugar level.

We found that when the tremors happen, the only thing that will get rid of them is a bowl of milk and a little bit of sugar. As soon as he is done with the remedy the tremors have competently stopped, and usually go away for a while.

Please try this before you do anything else. I know it sounds crazy but it really works. It doesn't get rid of the tremors competely, but it stopped them for the time being, and I see no signs of the tremors causing long term damage. I hope this helps, I know how scary it can be. But milk and sugar works for us and our boy!!!!!!!!
 
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Blitzman responded:
Hey Jessi - Please check out my post below. I really hope this helps you.
 
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1212Boxer responded:
We have a 4yr old boxer. A couple years ago he started to have head tremors. The very first one we treated it as if he was going into diabetic shock and gave him orange juice, the shaking subsided almost immediately. We later learned it had nothing to do with diabetes. But that it was "idiopathic head tremors". Given that no one knows much about that we decided the sugar worked the first time so we were going to continue that as our own little remedy. It has been 2yrs and has worked for us every time. The one time the tremors occurred and we were unable to give our dog anything it lasted close to ten minutes. I have found peanut butter with raw sugar(opposed to bleached sugar which is just worse in general, fyi honey is the best form of natural sugar)sprinkled on top is convenient and quick and you are able to travel with it if need be. We have also spread peanut butter on cheese or lunch meat then sprinkled with sugar rolled it up and he eats it right away and the tremors go away every time within moments. Our vet who we love said continue to do what works and that the small amount of sugar is fine and the tremors are not harmful to our boxer. Hope this helps. p. s. our boxer has never shown any aggressive disposition towards other dogs while this is occurring.
 
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bonzo79 responded:
HI. JUST REGISTERED FROM SCOTLAND. WE ALSO HAVE A 4YR OLD BRINDLE BOXER, BONZO. SINCE HE WAS 1YR OLD HE HAS HAD HEAD TREMORS. THERE IS NO RHYME OR REASON TO THEM. THANKFULLY THEY NEVER LAST LONGER THAN 2/3 MINUTES. WE FIND IF WE RUB ICE ONTO HIS GUMS OR PUT COLD WATER IN HIS MOUTH, HE SNAPS OUT OF IT. DURING THE TREMORS HE IS 100% ALERT, AND IS HIS USUAL BOUNCY SELF AFTER IT. HOWEVER WE HAVE NOTICED THAT HE WILL BE VERY CLINGY FOR AN HOUR OR MORE BEFORE THE TREMOR. HE JUST WANTS TO CUDDLE UP ON YOUR LAP. WONDERED IF PERHAPS SOMETHING IS GOING ON IN HIS HEAD THAT HE SENSES?
 
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Mybulldog replied to bonzo79's response:
I have a 3 year old Old English Bull dog who recently started these head tremors. I noticed also that she is very clingy before this happens, but I also noticed that the tremors happen upon waking. She is always responsive to my commands during these tremors, but she looks so sad and it breaks my heart to watch. Someone suggested to give her yogert and that helps (yogert because she is overweight) I also think it is a sugar problem and will do anything to help her feel better. The week before all of this started I had her to the vet for all of her shots, could this be part of the problem??
 
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skatinggeek replied to Mybulldog's response:
I have a 4 or 5 year old n/m Belgian Malinois who started displaying this behavior early Saturday morning. After a trip to the emergency vet, and our regular vet they have not been able to find anything. From my research online I believe it to be the idiopathic head tremors. I do not have $6,000 to spend on ruling out ever other cause with MRI's etc. I wish I did. I have three videos of him up on youtube while he is having these tremors. The videos are not of a high quality but you get the main idea. I have found that honey, or engaging him in play makes the tremors stop. My biggest concern is the fact that he has them so frequently. He started having them 7/31 at 1:00 in the morning and as of right now 10:20 on 8/2 he has had 12 of them. Most were Saturday, one yesterday, and three today. Is there a problem with the fact that he is having so many of them? Here are his videos. Thank you for any help. I would do anything for him.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BEwsWTOLAHc
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nwOJNNqUmJQ
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KMD_wyp6-9Y
 
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luluhalls replied to skatinggeek's response:
Our 16 month old male Olde English Bulldogge (slightly different than an English Bulldog..but same family of dogs) started having head tremors last night. My husband saw it and noticed it again this morning.......they would last 2-3 minutes, stop and start again. He was responsive, walking around and acting otherwise normal. I immediately researched this and saw YouTube videos with this same condition in boxers and bulldogs. I knew it had to be "idiopathic head tremors".....basically what I learned was that it is fairly common in these breeds, harmless and no medication works. They are not techinically "seizures", rather tremors from an unknown origin. Theories include low blood sugar, low dopamine levels and type of foods eaten. I tend to believe it is just a genetic trait since I read about many cases being familial. With all that said.............we visited our vet today who told us that he'd never heard of this being in "bulldogs"...usually boxers. He also said matter of factly that he had "focal seizures" and poo-pooed my diagnosis of "idiopathic head tremors". He even made a comment that I was "googlizing" too much. I don't think he appreciated the articles I whipped out to the contrary (didn't even want to see them). I also showed him my videotape footage I had taken this morning. While he said that he doesn't want to medicate him.......he said that the problem will probably get worse over time. I don't know what books he's reading......but maybe he needs to start doing a little more "googlizing" himself. It didn't take me 7 years of vet school to figure this one out. I
 
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jared1624 replied to luluhalls's response:
also have an eighteen month olde english bulldogge and she seems to be having head tremors, my girlfriend also believes its a sugar issue. she bought some pedialite and tonight she was laying with me on the couch and started her head tremors, totally responsive, and looking at me like make it stop dad. within thirty seconds my girlfriend had a syringe full of pedialite and as soon she starting drinking it the head tremors stopped. idk if it is actually stopping the tremors or just a coincidence but you might try this and see if it helps. we did not force the liquid, she just drank it from the syringe. if you try this please post back your findings. thank you


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