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My 10year old Weimaraner began 6 months ago to violently…

My 10year old Weimaraner began...
My 10year old Weimaraner began 6 months ago to violently kick his legs while sleeping and it will shake the bed. If I don’t wake him he will do this for 20 Mims or more and then repeats this throughout the night.
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Answered in 20 minutes by:
3/5/2018
Dr. Kara
Dr. Kara, Dog Veterinarian
Category: Dog
Satisfied Customers: 19,004
Experience: Over 20 years of experience as a veterinarian
Verified

Hello, I'm Dr. Kara. I have over 20 years of experience as a veterinarian and I'd like to help. Please give me a moment to review your concerns.

Are you easily able to wake him when he is doing this?

Hs he ever had a seizure when he is awake?

Has he been otherwise normal? Eating & drinking normally, no weight loss, no changes in behavior or coordination?

Has he had any recent blood tests since this behavior started?

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Customer reply replied 5 months ago
Nothing has changed in any of the categories. I had a dog that had epilepsy so I know what. Seizure looks like. This is not it. You can wake him but it takes a while. It's like he is in a deep sleep. Once you wake him he goes right back to sleep and begins again. So much so it shakes the entire bed
Customer reply replied 5 months ago
He recently had blood work as he had surgery for bloat 3 months ago.
Customer reply replied 5 months ago
I would like to continue chatting not speak.

Thanks very much for that information. That helps. Was this going on before/when he had bloodwork for bloat surgery, or was this after?

Any history of heart disease or a murmur or rhythm irregularity?

No worries about the phone call offer, I'd prefer this too.

Please give me several moments to type up my thoughts.

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Customer reply replied 5 months ago
This behavior started 6 months ago prior to any surgery.

Thanks! Be back soon with my thoughts.

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All dogs dream, but when they sleep there is a part of the brain that dampen gross motor motions in response to what they are seeing and experiencing in their dream. In young puppies this is not as developed so we see lots of movement and twitches, and likewise as they age that part of the brain also seems to be less effective. It is not uncommon to see running motions, vocalizations, and ear movement as well as changes in facial expression. This may well be the case with your fellow because it is happening during his deep sleep (REM) time given the length of time it takes to waken him.

If these tremors seem to be muscle spasms of a group of muscles that he cannot control or stop it is certainly possible that your fellow 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. We cannot distract a dog and get these muscle twitches to stop, they seem to stop and start of their own accord.

This is possible with him because although you can wake him and get them to stop, it seems to take longer that usual and it always seems to affect the same group of muscles.

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. None of these can be consciously stopped by your pup.

I need to ask if you recently applied any topical flea medications or could he have been exposed to an insecticide? If so this can be a reaction to a toxin and 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 in sensitive dogs. This seems very unlikely because of the length of time it has gone on, and that it does not happen when he is awake. Toxicity symptoms should happen all the time.

A brain or spinal cord tumor would be another possibility, but again these twitches should be more consistent, awake or asleep.

If he 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.

If his color is good and he is eating, drinking and behaving normally otherwise I suspect that he is stable but I do recommend that your veterinarian examine him and recheck some basic blood tests to make sure that they are not related to changes in elctrolytes or mineral balances. I wouldn't wait too long to have him seen 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.

It will be very helpful for your veterinarian to see one of these episodes. If you can tape one of these episodes on your cell phone then that would be very helpful.

If his bloodwork is normal it may be helpful to put him on medications to control seizures and see if they help. Phenobarbital, or Keppra would be my first choices. You may need to start them at a higher dose to stop the episodes and then you may be able to use them only at night a few hours before bed.

Please let me know if you have any further questions.

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Customer reply replied 5 months ago
Ok thanks for your help.

You are very welcome, please let me know what they find.

Dr. Kara
Dr. Kara, Dog Veterinarian
Category: Dog
Satisfied Customers: 19,004
Experience: Over 20 years of experience as a veterinarian
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