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Shaking Head?

Guest Piila

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hi all,


Last night while lying on his blanket, Abbey's head all of a sudden started shaking. Not violently, just a bit, like he had Parkinson's disease or something. Since last night, I've noticed him doing it off and on during the day.


Has anyone ever seen this or heard of this? I was at my vet this afternoon and he suggested that we don't get concerned right now, that maybe he over-exerted himself or twinged a muscle or nerve or something. He did fall on the snowy stairs the other day, and get banged on the head with a shovel, but I don't know if either of these things are connected.


Any advice?



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Guest EmilyAnne

We had a dog that had seizures due to brain trauma. They were no biggie, in fact we never medicated because the seizures were so mild. It does sound like what your grey is experiencing might be the same thing? Does his whole head and neck move? Or is it just more of a shiver? Do you time these episodes of whatever they are?


How many days ago did your grey accidentally get hit in the head? (I can see how that would happen, greys are followers which can put them in harms way when shoveling, so dont feel bad)


And how soon that incident after did you witness the first episode?

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he got a slight bonk on the head yesterday afternoon, then started these weird head tremors last night. He got bonked more on the jaw than in the head though (yes, he was totally underfoot, and just happened to move in the way of the shovel as I was throwing snow - I guess he figured he could help!)

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hmmm, I was going to say maybe he ate some grass that had some pesticide on it, until I saw your post. if it were me and my dog got a bonk in the head with a shovel, and then had head tremors, I would at least call the vet to see what they thought. did you mention the head bonk to the vet?



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Guest EmilyAnne

Alfalfa's injury was where the jaw connects to the skull. (Alfalfa's injury though was MASSIVE, he had to have all the loose fragmets of jaw and skull wired together. I am sure your grey's head trauma is MUCH more milder than Alfalfa's)


I'd soften your grey's food for a few days just to be safe. I'd also keep her calm and quiet for a few days, keep the stress level as low as possible. No bright lights or loud noises.


Please remember I am just grasping around in the dark as to what might be wrong with your grey. If it were my grey, I'd be inclined to have the vet check for any jaw/skull trauma and maybe your grey needs something to reduce swelling that may be in the head/jaw area? (you wont necessarily see the swelling as the skull hides the swelling unless there is a total skull fracture which I am sure your grey does not have at all) The episodes may not even be seizures, who knows. But if they are, they are definately the more harmless kind of seizure.

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the bonk he got was no way hard. just a tap really. so I'm almost certain it doesn't have anything to do with the tremors. 2 weeks ago, he spent almost 4 days in the hospital for big complications after anesthetic for a simple tooth extraction. stress maybe?


my vet looked at him and didn't seem worried. he's not swollen anywhere either. it's so odd. and scary. especially after last week!

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For those of you who have seen this head tremor/bobbing behavior, I found something on another site that gave me hope. The key here is that Abbey had surgery a number of times last week, so that struck a chord with me.





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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My suggestion would be that you keep a note of exactly what happened today and keep a diary of any further episodes (noting things like time of day, how long after food and exercise, what the dog was doing at the time of the episode and also if there was any change in the dogs eyes like pupil size etc). If you have a video camera (or video function on your normal camera), try to get any further episode on camera so that you can show it to your vet or specialist if need be in the future.


Angel Maddison had head tremors (diagnosed as mild, idiopathic epilepsy) and I have some clips I can show you if you want to compare.

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The tremors may or may not have been caused by the injury, but tremors can point to something as simple as low thyroid or as complex as a neurological issue, as it did for my sweet bridge girl Simon. I'd have a vet check, personally.

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how do they go about diagnosing a neurological issue?


he's had one tremor this morning, which I didn't get to catch on video (the camera's out and ready for the next one!). I watched some videos of a boxer who was diagnosed with idopathic head tremor and that's exactly what abbey looks like. i've tried adding yoghurt to his kibble to get his calcium content up, and he's in for blood work this week to recheck his platelets, so will have my doctor do a thyroid test on top of it.

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Your own vet would do the initial checking, things like pupil dilation and reaction to light, etc. They might check thyroid, too. If there is reason, you vet might refer you to a specialist, perhaps at a veterinary college. They didn't let me watch the exam when we took Zippy to the vet college, and I can't remember if they did and MRI or just EKG, etc...She turned out to be just fine in the end. Her tremor was not in her head, though, more in her body, so it may well have been tension--Zippy's prone to that.


Simon's tremors came on gradually and we thought for a long time it was weakness from being elderly and arthritic. The vet first found low thyroid, which she said could be the cause of the tremor or not--a neurological issue could apparently have caused both low thyroid and tremors. We opted to try thyroid tx first, but after only a week on thyroid meds, Simon one afternoon became extremely wobbly and thensuddenly collapsed, having lost use of her legs. At that point, knowing she would not be up to lots of separation and invasive procedures, being elderly and pretty frail and arthritic already, we opted to let her go to the bridge. The vet said it wasn't a stroke, but she wondered about something like a brain tumor, etc...They couldn't do much of any needed testing at their office anyway.


That was in July, and I'm still second-guessing all this. The only thing I know is I should have brought her to the vet sooner for the tremors... :(

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