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my dog's head tremors
ariaslove posted:
I have a 2 1/2 year old pitbull/boxer mix and we have had him for about 6 months and his previous owners had adopted him from a shelter. 2 days ago we noticed his head shaking back and forth in a "no" manner and we thought it was a seizure but he was fully concious and responded to us in every way, come, sit, etc. It lasted about 2-3 min and then stopped...he has never had anything like this happen before and we decided to hold of to take him to the vet. Later that night about 12 hrs later he did it again....lasted the same amount of time and he behaved the same way. I made a vet apt for the next day and showed the vet (who i was not too fond of) the video i had filmed of our dog shaking his head. The vet said "oh this is head tremors and your dog is being poisened by something..his kidney and or liver can be failing or he has a brain tumor" he then went off in the same sentence about all the test he wanted to run on him including a ct scan and mri and then ended with if we can find anything then we treat it as a ideopathic head tremor and put him on steriod for the rest of his life!!! Now this has not happend again and i just wanted to know if this is something that might never happen again and is it something he can live with??? I know this is something very common in boxers and wonder if this is just a geneitc thing???
Sandy Willis, DVM, DACVIM responded:
Hi Ariaslove,

There is an idiopathic (meaning we don't know the cause) head tremor seen in boxers. Often breed related problems seem not to occur so often in the mix breeds.
It seems to be an innocuous disorder, and does not progress to full seizures. Sometimes anticonvulsant therapy helps, sometimes not. From my reading, as I have not seen many of these myself, unless the tremoring is severe and interfering with quality of life, it may not need to be treated.,
Veterinary neurologists are the specialists who deal with such problems as these.
The work up your veterinarian recommends would rule-out underlying conditions that might cause the tremoring, such as low blood sugar, disorders of calicum etc. and in our line of work, finding out what diseases are not present is often even more important than what are present.
The CT or MRI scans would be most likely done by a neurologist.
I did not find a reference to steroids for the idiopathic tremoring disease but steroids are used for some other tremoring conditions.

I can't stress how important it is to find a veterinarian who understands your needs for your pet's health care and who you trust for their recommendation, so this might be the time to find someone new for their opinion. Some simple blood testing may not be a bad idea at this point to make sure we are not missing something.

Hope this is helpful. Thanks for writing in.

Dr. Sandy
ariaslove replied to Sandy Willis, DVM, DACVIM's response:
Thank you so much for your reply!! Me and my husband sat down and discussed this situation and decided if he has another episode of the head tremor we are going to bring him to another vet for a second opinion and get the blood test to rule out any failing organs that may be contributing to this.
With ideopathic head tremors how often do they usually occur?? Is it possible that this may never happen again??

Thanks again for all the information!!!
JessiM replied to Sandy Willis, DVM, DACVIM's response:
Hi Dr. Sandy,

My dog does this too! I've caught her with this head tremor about 4 times in the year that I've had her, however I work most of the day so there's no telling how often it really occurs. When I adopted her, she was in pretty bad shape, both emotionally and physically. I'm wondering if it could be psychological? I just took her for a check up recently and they said she was super healthy, but I do not remember having any of these tests done. Today I was actually with a friend when it happened so I know it is not just in my head! I'm not sure her breed, but she looks a lot like something called a carolina dog that I found on the internet. Any advice would be helpful!!



William Draper, DVM, better known as "Dr. Will," is a well-known small animal practitioner in the Atlanta, GA area. He grew up in Inglewood,...More

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