Why Does my Dog's Head Tremble?
My dog Finley is an Australian cattle mix. She is 5 1/2. She occasionally has seizures/head tremors. She used to have them about once a month (my vet had me track them) and then they went away for about a year. Lately it started happening again occasionally. Her head will shake for up to 4 minutes.
She is totally conscious and responsive but can't stop moving her head. Sometimes also her body shakes, more like a shiver, as though she
is afraid or stressed. My vet has no idea why this happens. Do you have any ideas what could cause this? She is healthy in every other respect - very active, very affectionate.
Thanks for any ideas of what this is and why it came back after going away for a year.
I suspect that Finley has a low grade form of epilepsy.
Epilepsy is common in dogs, cats, and humans. It most famously causes full blown convulsions (termed grand mal seizures) at unpredictable intervals. However, milder forms of epilepsy can cause intermittent tremors, muscle fasciculations, and aberrant behaviors. These neurological events are referred to as petit mal seizures.
Epilepsy occurs when brain cells are chronically overactive. Usually the syndrome is hereditary, but head trauma also can trigger recurrent seizures. The overactive brain cells occasionally, and usually unpredictably, trigger seizures. It is not uncommon for animals to go several years without a seizure and then suffer several over a short period of time.
Seizure disorders can be treated with medications. Unfortunately, the most common medications have the potential to cause serious side effects.
Without treatment, Finley likely will continue to experience petit mal seizures at unpredictable intervals. However, because of potential medication side effects I generally do not recommend treating animals that suffer only from petit mal seizures.
If Finley develops grand mal seizures then treatment may be in order. If that doesn't happen, then I recommend only that you continue to track the events.