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What Causes Muscle Spasms In Dogs?

Written by: Adri Sandoval
Adri Sandoval is the Special Projects Manager for iHeartDogs and iHeartCats. Her work has deepened her love for animals, fostering a strong passion for rescue and animal advocacy.Read more
| Published on November 28, 2017

Muscle spasms happen when your dog’s muscle contractions are interrupted. This is often caused by intense physical activity or a lack of sufficent fluids. These localized twitches can be a sign of muscle strain or damage, and though they aren’t life-threatening, they can be painful for your pet, especially if he’s been having them for a long period of time. They could point to a more serious condition like physical injury, slipped disc, pinched nerve, or even neurological damage that will need the attention of a medical professional.

Though the spasms may be visible as tremors beneath your dog’s skin, a visit to the vet is necessary to properly diagnose them and find the underlying cause of the spasms.

Symptoms of Muscle Spasms in Dogs

You may be able to see or feel the tremors or twitching on your dog’s body. Depending on the cause, you may also notice the following symptoms along with them:

  • Lameness
  • Depression
  • Pain

Causes of Muscle Spasms in Dogs

Muscle spasms can be caused by a number of issues, including strains, injury, neurological disorder, allergies, dehydration, or medication. Any of these things can interrupt normal muscle contractions and cause spasms. The spasms can turn into painful cramps if they’re sustained for long enough.

Seizures can cause similar tremors, but you can tell the difference between the two – muscle spasms are localized, but seizures will cause tremors all over.

Diagnosis of Muscle Spasms in Dogs

If your dog’s muscle spasms might clear up on their own with proper rest and hydration, but if he continues to twitch or you notice any of the other symptoms above, you should take him to see his vet. The vet will be able to find the cause of the spasms and take care of it.

Your vet may ask you to provide some useful information, which may include:

  • Your dog’s fitness and activity levels
  • Changes in medication
  • Recent sprains or physical injuries
  • Amount of fluid intake

Treatment of Muscle Spasms in Dogs

Muscle spams can often be prevented just by making sure your dog isn’t over-exerting himself when he’s active and by making sure he’s drinking enough water. If he begins to spasm or cramp, you can gently stretch or massage the muscles affected and offer him a drink. Heat or cold can also relieve muscle spasms and any pain associated with them.

Ask your vet about muscle relaxants or pain relievers for your dog if he’s cramping. Supplements, like vitamins, minerals, herbal muscle relaxers and electrolytes can give your dog’s muscular system some support while also helping to heal.

Depending on the source of the muscle spasms, additional treatment may be required to address the root cause. These include physical therapy, massage, or surgery to remove the affected nerve or source of cramping.

Recovery of Muscle Spasms in Dogs

Prevention is the best way to deal with muscle spasms. Drinking water is important for your dog, so he should have access to fluids both during and after exercise, especially on hot days. Your dog should warm up before and cool down after exercise, and make sure he isn’t pushing himself hard enough to cause injury or a sprain.

A follow up probably won’t be necessary unless the spasms were caused by a more serious condition. After they’ve cleared up, you can help prevent them from coming back by strengethening your dog’s muscular system with supplements or a better diet.

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