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Rebecca, Dog Veterinarian
Category: Dog
Satisfied Customers: 14906
Experience:  More than 30 years of companion animal practice.
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My dog has had what seems to be a minor muscle spasm on the

Customer Question

My dog has had what seems to be a minor muscle spasm on the under side of his neck (at the base of his neck, almost to his chest). It's a very rythmic spasm/tick, but we've noticed it more at some times than others. At times it seems to stop or be in frequent, and at other times it spasms every 2 seconds for long periods of time. This has been going on for a couple days.
He's a 3-year-old Beagle/Chiwuawau mix, and he's not overweight (18 pounds). He's eating fine (and very healthy), chewing bones, wagging his tail, playing, running and walking fine, jumping up on the couch, and doesn't seem to be in any pain. I'm wondering if this is something we should be worried about as we're hesitant to take him to the vet (and inevitably spend big bucks) if there is little concern. Thanks!
Submitted: 2 years ago.
Category: Dog
Expert:  Rebecca replied 2 years ago.
I am sorry to hear you are worried about Oscar. I am a veterinarian and will do my best to help.
Is this spasm right in the middle of his neck, or off to one side? It could be you are seeing a "jugular pulse", where jugular vein is beating with his heartbeat. If this is what you are seeing, you could check by doing this: the next time you see the spasm, put a hand on his chest and feel his heartbeats. If the spasm seems to occur with each heart beat, it is likely that the tic/spasm is related to his heart.
If it is not timed with the heart beats, then it probably is a spasm in a neck muscle. I would not be too worried about a muscle spasm.
If he is that healthy and young, this is probably not a serious problem. If it seems to be getting worse, or is timed with the heart, you might want your vet to listen to his heart the next time you are there, to be sure he does not have a heart murmur or other problem.
If he is eating, his gums are pink, playful, not painful, it is probably not serious.
Let me know what else I can help with or answer.
Customer: replied 2 years ago.
It is right in the middle of his the equivalent location as a human male's Adam's Apple would be. I could definitely see where you're coming from with the jugular pulse because that's exactly what it looks and feels like - a pulse. It just caught us really off guard because it's something we haven't experienced with him before. And when he's sitting still and it's happening (and it's been happening quite often), it's a strong enough "pulse" that his head moves slightly with each pulse.But I just checked, and his gums are pink. He's too excited with me having just walked in the door from work to be able to feel his neck and chest at the same time, but I'll try that shortly.
Customer: replied 2 years ago.
And I just reread your last message and I wanted to ask one more question. If it is a muscle spasm, it that something that could be persisting for ~4 days? We first noticed this on Friday morning.
Expert:  Rebecca replied 2 years ago.
From your description, I would more suspect a pulse, than a muscle spasm. It is possible for a spasm to go on that long, but unlikely.
Let me know what else I can answer.
Customer: replied 2 years ago.
The fact that the noticeable pulse seems to come and go - would that be considered strange/unusual, or do you still believe it's a pulse? As soon as I notice it happening again (once he's sitting down), I'll feel his chest for his heartbeat.
Expert:  Rebecca replied 2 years ago.
The only way I could be sure it is a pulse, if I could examine him. If the tics/spasms do occur with a heartbeat, it is probably a pulse.
Jugular pulses can mean an abnormality with the heart. This would not be common in such a young dog, but I would have it checked out.