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Dr. Gene
Dr. Gene, Veterinarian
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Experience:  DVM degree from Ontario Veterinary College
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What are the causes for tremors in dogs?

Resolved Question:

If a dog has hind leg tremors, sporadically, has a yearly check up with blood tests showing no obvious problem; is there something about this that I should be concerned about and check further?

Submitted: 8 years ago.
Category: Veterinary
Expert:  Dr. Gene replied 8 years ago.

Hi there,
Just a few of questions first...
-- Are the tremors involving both hind legs and no other part of the body?
-- Any difficulties rising off the floor or going up the stairs?
-- Are the tremors happening when your dog is laying down only, or at other times?
-- Are the tremors happening when he's awake or asleep?
-- Please describe the tremors - fine shaking movement or violent jerks?
-- Can you interrupt the tremors?

Customer: replied 8 years ago.

1. Happens mainly in the right back leg, but a couple of times left leg

2. He is extremely active, plays fetch, frisbee (I keep it down low) and no trouble getting up and down

3, Tremors only happen (sporadically) when he is standing

4. Awake only, standing

5. Fine steady shaking, would call it a tremble

6. If hold his hip area, or massage a moment, they tend to quit

Expert:  Dr. Gene replied 8 years ago.

Thank you,
Movement disorders are common in people and are more and more recognized in animals as well. By the answers you gave, I think the following are most likely causes of the tremors (in rough order of most to least likely):
-- Neuropathy (non specific nerve disorder affecting the nerves supplying the hind legs)
-- Degenerative joint disease (osteoarthritis) and associated pain - even though he is great otherwise; pain of osteoarthritis is usually worse not during exercise but during rest, especially if bearing weight on the painful joint
-- Pain associated with nerves (due to compression by bone or diseases like cancer)
-- Spinal cord diseases like lumbosacral instability and inter-vertebral disc disease
-- Primary orthostatic tremor (not a well known condition in dogs with no known cause and no treatment but is exactly what you are describing)
-- Senile tremors, yes can happen even in an 8 year old dog.
My recommendation is to have x-rays of the lower spine, pelvis and knee joints taken, to have a neurologic exam performed and evaluate joints/spine for pain. If everything is normal, I would try a 2 week course of pain medication (a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medication prescribed by your vet) to see if this helps the tremors. I would restrict his activity to on-leash walks only for that 2 weeks (and otherwise as well).
Hope this helps! Please let me know if you have any other questions and best of luck!

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