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Is It Epilepsy ?

Guest BugsBunny

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Guest BugsBunny

We've had the new hounds nearly six months now. A couple weeks after they arrived I noticed Horses head shaking like he had a nervous twitch or something, lasted only a few seconds and stopped. Didn't think anythin more about it. 8 weeks later he did it again, this time I spoke to him to see if he realised I was there....he seemed totally normal apart from the head shaking, he made eye contact, wagged his tail, licked my face. Mentioned it to the vet ans she said to keep an eye on it, if it happened again or becoame more frequent to bring him in.


Nothing for 12 weeks, then just before he was due to go in for a set of skin bio's he did it again. So I asked the vet to test him for epilepsy. His skin biopsy's results came back ( thats a whole different story) but we've not heard about the epilepsy results, still chasing !!!!! ( dont ask) He did it again sunday which was great as it was the first time DH had seen him do it and he think he though I was being over protective mummy.


DH commented maybe he's just over happy !!!


So I need your collective experience, do you think I have a mild case of epilepsy on my hands?

or just a Grey with a weird way of saying he's happy.


Waiting for the test results is driving me nuts.

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My knowledge is limited on this but from what I understand, dogs with epilepsy seem to go in a trance state. Sounds like your hound is completely aware of what is going on around him at the time.


It's good you talked to the vet about it though. If his teeth chatter then yes he's happy but I've never heard about head shaking. Is it possible to tape this head shaking? Maybe if the vet sees it they will be more helpful.


Carolina (R and A Carolina) & Rebel (FA Ready).
At the bridge: Kira (Driven by Energy) 7/19/97 - 6/17/04 & Jake (Jumpstart Dude) 9/12/00 - 1/24/15

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Guest Snowy8

It doesn't sound like epilepsy per se, perhaps a quiet seizure of some sort. Gabby has epilepsy & she lays down, has body tremmers & zones out. Her seizures aren't as strong as a lot of dogs, but they last about 20 minutes.

Banker has seizures, but his are more like he's off balance & sometimes he'll whimper but he doesn't zone out.

I tell ya someone who is really good at recognizing epilepsy, Jillysfullhouse or Judy Losey. She has a grey who has seizures & they worked for months getting his meds regulated.

I would send her a PM & ask her advise.

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He could have an ear infection. They will usually shake their heads like than when they do. As far as epilepsy goes, there are petite mal seizures which might include what you describe but usually a pup won't respond to their name being called. Usually you get no response of any kind. With our Saint a bomb could go off and you would get no response of any kind.


I'd have the vet check his ears first off and see if there is any thing going on in there.

Judy, mom to Darth Vader, Bandita, And Angel

Forever in our hearts, DeeYoGee, Dani, Emmy, Andy, Heart, Saint, Valentino, Arrow, Gee, Bebe, Jilly Bean, Bullitt, Pistol, Junior, Sammie, Joey, Gizmo, Do Bee

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Guest mleg2001
Paroxysmal Dyskinesia is a movement disorder. There are brief attacks of the symptoms with the dog appearing perfectly normal between the episodes; the same way there are discrete attacks of seizures in epilepsy. Dyskinesia refers to an abnormal, involuntary movement or posture. Movement disorders usually originate from the deeper areas (the basal nuclei) of the brain. These areas are responsible for translating the commands from higher brain areas (e.g. get the ball) into movements (e.g. stand up, begin trotting, etc). The distinction in the human between seizure activity and dyskinesias is based on looking for abnormal electrical activity on the surface of the brain with an EEG.




By definition, seizures have abnormal EEG activity, while paroxysmal dyskinesias do not. People with paroxysmal dyskineasis often experience a decrease in episodes as they age while epileptic people and dogs will worsen with age.

more here http://www.homestead.com/bulldogsworld/headtremor.html

from a bully dog site


this is from a doberman site


The Doberman Pinscher Foundation of America and veterinary neurologists across the country are receiving more frequent reports of the condition indicating either heightened awareness or increasing incidence. While no epidemiological studies have been done, the “gut feeling” is that we may be witnessing an emerging disease. The syndrome is one of many classified under the general term of “tremors”. Tremors are defined as rhythmic, oscillatory, involuntary movement of all or part of the body. The nervous or musculoskeletal systems are affected. Many breeds are afflicted with generalized tremor syndrome. Dobermans, Labradors, and English Bulldogs are all overrepresented with head tremors. Tremors in general are often the result of abnormalities in the brain, particularly in the cerebellum. Identified causes can be degenerative, congenital, inflammatory, immune mediated, or toxic.


In Dobermans, clinical features consist of a sudden onset of the tremor restricted to the head. In most cases the movement is up and down, but there are reports of side to side as well. The dogs appear to be conscious, responsive, and otherwise normal during an episode. Tremors typically stop spontaneously after several minutes and in some cases can be stopped temporarily by distracting the dog (for example, with food).


Diagnostic evaluation is typically normal, including neurological examination, blood studies, cerebral spinal fluid analysis and rain CTs and MRIs. There is no known effective treatment. Anti-seizure drugs such as Phenobarbital and bromide do not appear to help. Affected dogs do not develop other neurological deficits and in most cases the syndrome does not severely compromise the dog’s quality of life. In some cases the episodes eventually resolve.


The true nature of Doberman Head Bobbing Syndrome is unknown. Although focal epilepsy is possible, the lack of response to anti-seizure drugs suggests some other cause. Some neurologists have even gone so far as to suggest stereotypy as a cause. Stereotypy is the abnormal repetition of an action or abnormal sustained maintenance of a position or posture as seen in some phases of schizophrenia. While this diagnosis seems unlikely it does illustrate the myriad of potential causes that have been considered. Most likely, based on what is known about tremors in general, some type of movement disorder associated with pathology located in the cerebellum is involved.


The apparent risk in certain breeds suggests that genetic factors are involved. One veterinary neurologist has seen several affected Dobermans with a family history further supporting this, but no one seems to be aware of any pedigree analysis.


At this present time, there appears to be no research being done on Doberman Head Bobbing Syndrome. There certainly is enough anecdotal evidence suggesting a genetic cause of an emerging disease. Exercising caution in breeding Dobermans with a family history, even if the precise genetic mechanism for transmission is unknown, would seem, at least to this writer, to be prudent.




Products like advantage, advantix has the active ingredient imidacloprid and can effect the brain



Frontline has been noted to cause these head bobbing incidences fipronil


This happens in a small number of animals, it was because owners had kept diaries on their pets after the first instance they were able to trace back the cause


Article on spot on flea treatments







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Chloe suffers from "head tremors". It's very scary. Yes, she happens to be hypothyroid too. It usually happens when she is unusally stressed or when her meds are being altered.


I was told by my grey savvy vet of 32 years that there is nothing to do but monitor it. If you can keep a log, do so and state what's going on at the time etc. IF IT LASTS OVER 5 MINUTES OR GETS WORSE THAN JUST THE HEAD BOBBING, GET HELP. UNder 5 minutes he said it should just be monitored.


It may be a mini seizure that may or may not ever have anything to do with epilepsy.


You can do a search on GT about "head tremors".


Make sure your vet does a FULL PROFILE PANEL FOR THYROID NOT JUST T4. It's not too late, they keep the blood for days after they draw it.


I'm sure your dog is very happy, but that is not the reason he has head tremors.

Edited by RobinM



ROBIN ~ Mom to: Beau Think It Aint, Chloe JC Allthewayhome, Teddy ICU Drunk Sailor, Elsie N Fracine , Ollie RG's Travertine, Ponch A's Jupiter~ Yoshi, Zoobie & Belle, the kitties.

Waiting at the bridge Angel Polli Bohemian Ocean , Rocky, Blue,Sasha & Zoobie & Bobbi

Greyhound Angels Adoption (GAA) The Lexus Project

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My Piper is epileptic--he has really spectacular grand mal seizures. He also occasionally has head tremors. Its never been at all clear whether they are related to his epilepsy or not. When he has them, he is head just shakes gently in a palsied sort of way. If I call to him, he is quite alert. If he engages his muscles to raise his head, the tremor stops.


I remember other GT members who have posted about similar tremors on their non-epileptic dogs--Bevd comes to mind.


With regard to having the vet run tests for epilepsy--unfortunately, there really is no test for epilepsy. You sort of have to rule to all the other possible causes of seizures (there are many) and then you are left with a diagnosis of epilepsy.

Lucy with Greyhound Nate and OSH Tinker. With loving memories of MoMo (FTH Chyna Moon), Spirit, Miles the slinky kitty (OSH), Piper "The Perfect" (Oneco Chaplin), Winston, Yoda, Hector, and Claire.

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Our angel Icarus had petit mal epileptic seizures. He would do very similar to what you're describing when it was a mini-episode. In his case, we could stop the head shakes just by touching his head or distracting him with food.

In a regular episode, he would become very stiff, had difficulty walking, drooled excessively (we'd get out a towel for him), would be responsive but distant, and would finish with a big long pee, regardless if he is inside or outside.

Over the years, I learned his triggers. His were brought on by stress and low blood sugar.

Best advice I received, keep a diary of the episodes and note the time, day, last time given food, how excited he was..etc. When you go to see your vet for a regular checkup, bring it with you and discuss it with him.

Jennifer and Beamish (an unnamed Irish-born Racer) DOB: October 30, 2011


Forever and always missing my "Vowels", Icarus, Atlas, Orion, Uber, and Miss Echo, and Mojito.

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There is no test for epilepsy - it is a process or ruling other things out.


If he is responding to his name, it is likely not a seizure in the traditional epileptic seizure state. But as other have suggested, keep a log - what/when/where/how long and if anything comes to mind that was going on before hand that could trigger it. Keep your vet up to date on what is going on when you go in.



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Guest BugsBunny

Thanks Folks, as always great advice. Vet has just called to say they had tested him to rule out a few things and they were fine and the best thing is just for us to monitor him for now as the incidents very short and infrequent. Will keep a diary as most of you suggested, the vet reccommended noting everything going on around the time it happens, his mood, has someone just turned the telly on, has he just eaten something.

Again thanks for the info and advice....and peace of mind. Knowing is always half the battle.



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  • 5 months later...

Okay, I just came across this thread by searching. Abbey's just developed these weird head tremors and it's totally freaked me out!!! He seems perfectly normal, concious, etc. I can distract him from them, which is even stranger. But it's scary!!


Does exercise (too much or lack of) play into this?

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Okay, I just came across this thread by searching. Abbey's just developed these weird head tremors and it's totally freaked me out!!! He seems perfectly normal, concious, etc. I can distract him from them, which is even stranger. But it's scary!!


Does exercise (too much or lack of) play into this?


Has he gotten into anything??? We had a foster have an allergic reaction that caused those symptoms. My "Peanut" had petitemal seizures and unless you were there by her or happend to be paying attention to her when they hit, many of them went unnoticed. My Peanut could be distracted, but they didn't stop...


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Guest EmilyAnne

This person has not been online since August 26th. Just wanted to make sure ya'll were aware of that.


ETA: Whoops, never mind, I realize now why it got bumped. Sorry...*blush*

Edited by EmilyAnne
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I found this posting about this head-bobbing phenomenon on another site and thought I'd pass it along:





This is a common issue in the Bulldog and as I am finding out over the past 9 years a lot of different breeds - dachshund, boxer, Chinnook etc. I have experienced it in males adn females.

Question - has your boy undergone surgery in the last 6mos to a year?


Here's what we know

First and foremost it is not a life threatening event. As long as the dog can walk, drink and eat and respond when you call him - then he is ok.


We have seen this happen in several circumstances:

-in the whelping box when the bitch is trying to make milk for the babies

-within 6mos to a year 0f a surgical procedure

-at the age of 12 mos - to 2 years.


I have been in touch with a Veterinarian in Canada who has a grant from the Morris Animal Foundation to study this - he feels it is something that is happening at a cellular level - calcium ion uptake at he motor neuron junction that controls the neck is not happening efficiently and this causes this particular nerve complex to miss fire repeatedly. It seems to happen a lot when they are in a deep sleep and suddenly the nerve starts firing and wakes them up.


There are a series of things that can cause the focal seizure to trigger:

-medication reactions

-bitch coming into season

-milk production





they all seem to interfere with that one motor nerve complex.


There are several things you can do-

-supplement diet with calcium

-when an episode occurs give them aa piece of cheese along with frozen vanilla yogurt and some karo syrup - but don't over do it - you could throw off their sugar balance.

-take him for a walk

-distract him with a game, his favorite toy

-leave him alone -it will stop on it's own.


The MOST important thing is that you DO NOT PANIC - the dog will sense your fear and this will exacerbate the episode. These episodes can be referred to as focal seizures because they impact a single part of the body - in this case the neck. You can compare it to a person with Parkinsons - the rolling of the fingers.


It is not a true seizure because it does not take the dog "out"

A true epileptic seizure whether a petit mal or grand mal - causes an altered state of consciousness where the person or dog is unresponsive to stimuli.

The dog/person with the focal seizure will respond when you call his/her name, they can eat, drink etc.


you can contact me directly if you need any additional info - e-mail is (please PM OP for email)

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Carl started the head bobbing about a month after I got him and it freaked me out big time. After a good ear cleaning it stopped immediately, meaning for months. He did it this past Friday, so I know it's time to clean his ears. You might try a good ear cleaning. When I cleaned his ears I could feel the cotton hit the nerve/trigger for the head bobbing (holding his head in my hand it felt more like a shiver). I pulled out a bunch of gunk...I don't know how he picks it up...and he was good to go!

Sunsands Doodles: Doodles aka Claire, Bella Run Softly: Softy aka Bowie (the Diamond Dog)

Missing my beautiful boy Sunsands Carl 2.25.2003 - 4.1.2014

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