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Dr. Kara
Dr. Kara, Veterinarian
Category: Dog Veterinary
Satisfied Customers: 16311
Experience:  Over 20 years of experience as a veterinarian.
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My dog is experiencing leg kicks. First time we've seen

Customer Question

My dog is experiencing leg kicks. First time we've seen that. He is about 7 years old. This answer seems to explain the problem.
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: Dog Veterinary
Expert:  Dr. Kara replied 1 year ago.

Hello,Hello, my name is***** and I have over 20 years of experience as a veterinarian. I understand your concern for your fellow Tony because he seems to be having muscle spasms that are causing him to have what appear to involuntary back leg kicking movements. I suspect that you read one of my previous responses to a similar problem. Each dog may be slightly different though as there can be several causes, so while I'll repeat the general information for you if you have more specific information or further questions please let me know.

These can be secondary to 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 or as dangerous for your pup 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 his body temperature increasing and subsequent brain damage is much less.

But there are several other things that can cause muscle contractions other than petite mal seizures. They include an infection, nerve damage or inflammation, toxin exposure, kidney disease and mineral (especially calcium) or electrolyte disturbances can all of which cause muscle fasciculations (spasms) as well.

Have you recently applied any topical flea medications or could he have been exposed to an insecticide? If so you want to bathe him 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 his 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, lethargy and a decreased appetite in sensitive dogs. Another possible cause of involuntary leg movements is intervertebral disc disease. This is when the spongy discs between the vertebrae in his spine either prolapse or leak and put pressure on his spinal cord. This is quite painful and can lead to painful muscle spasms or if there is enough pressure then even paralysis can result. Keeping him very quiet, no running, jumping or bending over (elevate his food and water bowls to head height) is best.

If Tony 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 he should be seen by a veterinarian on an emergency basis today.

If his gum color is good and he is eating, drinking and behaving normally otherwise I suspect that he is relatively stable but I do recommend that your veterinarian examine him as soon as possible and run some tests to determine why he is having these muscle spasms as soon as possible. I would encourage you not to wait too long to have him examined as some of the things that can cause muscle spasms (like toxins, electrolyte or mineral imbalances) can cause long term problems for your fellow 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 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.
Hi Rick,
I'm just following up on our conversation about Tony. How is everything going?
Dr. Kara