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Essential Tremor in Dogs

August 06, 2018

Did you know that essential tremor in dogs is a common condition that can occur in dogs, especially as they age? Though they can occur in younger dogs, tremors are commonly seen in dogs that are two and older. Also known as Physiologic tumors, these age-related tumors often involve the pelvis. Dogs that have these tremor conditions are referred to as “shaker dogs”. Terrier breeds are the most common to get the condition. It has also been found that white dogs are primarily affected and other breeds are predisposed such as Bulldogs, Labrador Retrievers, Chow Chows, and other common breeds. Like essential tremor in humans, the tremors are involuntary and rhythmic. There are dogs that do get head tremors like the most common cases in humans, but dogs are generally affected in different areas by essential tremor. 

The most common type of tremors in dogs are kinetic, which means that a tremor occurs when the muscle is moved in a voluntary action. Similar to humans, dogs can suffer different types of tremors like kinetic tremors, resting tremors, and twitches. Localized tremors usually affect the head or hind limbs. The causes can be unknown, or include:

  • Genetic
  • Trauma
  • Congenital
  • Hypoglycemia
  • Inflammation 
  • Nervous system disease

Your vet will need to perform a complete exam on your dog and learn about the whole background of the dog to diagnose the condition. This is so they can rule out any incidents or accidents that may have brought the condition. If the brain is what causes the tremors, generally the blood and other tests are found normal. Other diagnosis tests will include X-Rays, CT-Scans, and MRI’s, especially in cases where the pelvic limbs are affected. 

The treatment of tremors in dogs will follow the diagnosis of the underlying problem. Some cases have no successful treatment available. If the tremors are related to a disorder of the nervous system, surgery may be indicated to treat the nervous system disease. To control symptoms, your vet might recommend drugs. There are ways to help treat tremors through light, low impact exercise and a calm lifestyle. Any hard exercise or over-excitement could trigger tremors. Most cases of tremors in dogs are very treatable, and dogs can have a fulfilling life regardless of their tremor symptoms. 

Like humans, dogs require medical attention to diagnose and plan treatment options for tremor symptoms. In dogs, there may be surgical cures for tremors, depending on the cause, and the tremors are a bit more understood than they are in humans. Never try to remedy tremors on your own for your dog, as you may cause more stress and worsen the symptoms of the dog. Like humans, dogs with essential tremor have a positive outlook on their lives, and can live full lives with little interference with the right treatment. Making sure your dog receives proper diet and exercise is key to keeping them healthy and providing tools to combat essential tremor. For more information about dogs and essential tremor, visit PetMD has resources, tools and ideas to help keep your dog healthy and happy.