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Dr. Kara
Dr. Kara, Dog Veterinarian
Category: Dog
Satisfied Customers: 14858
Experience:  Over 20 years of experience as a veterinarian
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Our dog is having neck spasms that have been going on and off

Customer Question

Our dog is having neck spasms that have been going on and off for about a week. She is about 11 years old (she is a stray, so no medical history) and was diagnosed recently with stage 2 kidney failure. She loves to jump on furniture and I'm wondering if that could have caused it. It was very obvious after she jumped up on a chair where she loves to lie. Yesterday we took her to a pet ER and they took a long look at her and the vet said it was not neurological. She is eating well, walking fine, drinking fine, plays with her toys and otherwise "normal." Her kidney values are actually better. She shows no obvious signs of pain, just has these spasms that seem to act up when she turns her neck. The vet at the ER said it could be caused by stress, (we lost one of our other dogs a week ago), but could it be a slipped disc or something worse? Thanks.
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: Dog
Expert:  Dr. Kara replied 1 year ago.
Hello, my name is***** and I have over 20 years of experience as a veterinarian. I understand your concern for your girl because you are noticing her having neck muscle spasms. It is possible with your description of twitching that your girl is having petit mal seizures. These seizures affect a small group of muscles in a particular area of the body. They are not of the same significance as grand mal seizures (loss of consciousness, whole body, rhythmic, uncontrollable muscle contractions with possible loss of urine and stool continence) because the chance of body temperature increasing and subsequent brain damage is much less. These pups aren't painful or weak at all, and tend to ignore the spasms with no change in activity level , so we often don't treat them. There are several things that can cause muscle contractions other than petite mal seizures. Infections, nerve damage or inflammation, kidney disease and mineral (especially calcium) or electrolyte disturbances can all cause muscle fasiculations (spasms) as well. I need to ask if you recently applied any topical flea medications or could she have been exposed to an insecticide? If so you want to bathe her thoroughly to remove as much of the toxin as possible with something like Dawn dishwashing soap and cool water. Do not use hot water or scrub her skin as that will increase toxin absorption. Some flea control products, especially the over the counter products with high amounts of pyrethrin type insecticides can cause muscle twitches in sensitive dogs. Another possible cause of her symptoms is intervertebral disc disease (IVDD). This is when the spongy discs between the vertebrae in her spine either prolapse or leak and put pressure on her spinal cord. This is quite painful and can lead to painful muscle spasms or if there is enough pressure then even paralysis can result. Does she seem weak or painful at all?If you think this may be related to IVDD then keeping her very quiet, no running, jumping or bending over (elevate her food and water bowls to head height) is best. Do not use a collar on her, but switch to a harness so there isn't any pressure or jerking motion on her neck. She should improve over the next few weeks. If she seems to be progressing in symptoms and has a grand mal seizure (unconscious, unaware of surroundings, repetitive, uncontrollable whole body muscle movements with or without loss of urine or stool) then she should be seen by a veterinarian on an emergency basis today. If her color is good and she is eating, drinking and behaving normally otherwise I suspect that she is stable but I do recommend that your veterinarian examine her and run some tests to determine why she is having these muscle spasms. I wouldn't wait too long to have her seen as some of the things that can cause muscle spasms (like toxins, electrolyte or mineral imbalances) can cause long term problems for your girl and may be indicative of serious diseases. If this is intervertebral disc disease it is very important to relieve the inflammation so it does not progress to paralysis. If this is secondary to high blood calcium levels or changes in potassium levels (both possible in dogs with kidney disease) then addressing that promptly so there is no organ damage and tissue calcification is best. Please let me know if you have any further questions.
Expert:  Dr. Kara replied 1 year ago.
Hello, I just wanted to make sure that you received my response and did not have any further questions. If you have questions feel free to respond or if you are all set please remember to rate my response so that I receive credit for my work, thank you, ***** *****