Involuntary twitching of extremities is called cramps or convulsions, though sometimes it is a result of an ulcus. This symptom puts the owner on edge, which is understandable, since it can be a sign of a serious disorder. If the dog’s legs are twitching, it is a solid reason to contact the veterinarian immediately. Although sometimes twitching does not mean abnormality.
What Are Cramps?
Twitching of limbs, known as cramps, is overactivity of the nerve cells that responsible for the motor activity. The degree of manifestation depends on the area of damage and severity of the symptoms. It often happens that a slight tremor goes away without serious treatment, but sometimes a full-blown seizure may occur. It erupts all of a sudden, the animal falls on the floor convulsing with foam at the mouth. It indicates an epileptic seizure that is not necessarily caused by epilepsy itself.
Note!There are tonic (muscles slowly contract) and clonic (acute automatic contractions) convulsions. Pet whines in the process showing its fear.
The seizure may last no more than 5 minutes. When the pet is released from spasms, it gradually comes back to normal. The dog may have slightly slower reactions afterwards, set glassy eyes, wooden motions.
When Twitching Is Not a Dangerous Sign?
It is rarely a hazard when the dog twitches its paws while sleeping. This is often observed in puppies, and is associated with the nervous system immaturity. Noradrenaline is released in large quantities with strong emotions observed in puppies. Therefore the slight twitching in form of a light tremor can be observed. Seizures may also occur in emotionally excited adult dogs. Veterinarians call the condition a broken sleep. Other signs may be whining in sleep, jerking of ears. Calm the pet and then the involuntary trembling will cease.
Convulsions as a Sign of Pathology
A twitching hind leg in a dog, is usually a symptom of a serious condition. Only a veterinarian can determine the true inwardness of a supposed disease, but here is a list of possible causes for convulsive contractions:
- Low glycaemic level. In addition to convulsions, there may be metabolic imbalance, malfunctions of the urinary system and problems with liver. Puppies and small sized breeds are especially predisposed to this condition.
- Calcium deficiency. This chemical element is directly involved in muscle contraction regulation. A concomitant symptom may be snoring in sleep. Pregnant or lactating females, as well as smaller breeds are usually prone to the condition.
- Diseases of infectious or viral nature. The most serious one is rabies, which can easily transmitted from a sick to a healthy animal. Helminths, various protozoa, bacteria and fungi may also cause convulsions.
- Toxic exposure to neurotropic poisons (those affecting the nervous system).
- Inflammatory processes.
- Generalized tonic-clonic epilepsy – a cerebrum disorder abnormality causing disorders of the nervous system. It is often inherited or may be caused by a head injury or a tumor. Females are more prone to epilepsy as well as long-wool breeds.
These pathological conditions are also indicated by their duration with gradual deterioration in the condition of a pet. Upon detecting any of this symptoms, immediate veterinary assistance is required.
Other Possible Causes
Sometimes convulsive contractions are not caused by a disease, but rather by exposure to some outside factors. The main causes include:
- spinal cord, head or alvus injury;
- electric shock or lightning stroke;
- intoxication due to the bites of poisonous animals, insects or as a result of exposure to toxic chemicals.
If dog’s both forelimbs and hindlimbs are twitching, the very life of an animal depends on the forehanded care and accuracy of the prescribed treatment.
First Aid Treatment and Diagnosis
First aid treatment recommendations at convulsionary attack:
- Do not succumb to panic, especially during the first seizure. The dog will recover in a matter of a few seconds/minutes. Keep the pet at rest, obstruct the passage of light, turn off the TV.
- Put the pet on a thick blanket on the floor. Position the dog’s body on its right side so that foam or saliva would flow freely out of the mouth.
- Place a folded towel under your pet’s head to prevent head injury. Do not force the jaws open and do not try to hold the animal still, pressing it to the floor.
Diagnostic procedures: ultrasound diagnosis of the abdominal region, CT scan of the brain, checkup of the cardiovascular system, radiography of the skull and spinal column. Blood and urinary tests.
Treatment involves administration of medications that reduce frequency and intensity of attacks and eliminate the underlying cause of the disease. The health and life of the pet depend on the accuracy of the chosen treatment tactics.