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petdrz, Veterinarian
Category: Veterinary
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Experience:  Over 30 years of experience in caring for dogs and cats.
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My dogs rear right leg shakes often, especially after exercise

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My dogs rear right leg shakes often, especially after exercise or excitement but even when laying down sometimes. He was diagnosed with a slightly enlarged heart 3 years ago but the vet said it was nothing to worry about. Could the two be related? If not, what could it be? I feed him a crock-pot organic and raw diet with supplements and probiotics.
Hello and thanks for trusting me to help you and Forrest today. I am a veterinarian with over 25 years experience and would be happy work with you but need a bit more information in order to better assist you, if you don't mind.

Is it always only that leg that seems to bother him? Never any of the other?

Does he ever limp on the leg or favor it?

Have xrays ever been taken of the leg?

Thanks and I will respond further after you reply. There may be a slight delay while I formulate and type a thorough response.

Customer: replied 4 years ago.
Sometimes the other rear leg shakes, too, but it is usually the right rear leg. He never limps or favors either leg. It doesn't effect his ability to walk, run or play and he doesn't seem to be in pain but if I try to massage it he doesn't like that.
Customer: replied 4 years ago.
And no, no X-rays.
Thank you for the reply.

Leg tremors are something that we see quite regularly, but very rarely do we work up or treat for that matter because in most cases, as you have stated, they don't affect them when they walk or otherwise use the leg. They really tend to be more noticeable when the dog is not moving or is excited. My own dog experiences these and they are most apparent when she is watching me cook and hoping something will fall on the floor.

Limb tremors can be secondary to degenerative, metabolic, inflammatory/infectious or cancerous conditions or can be an idiopathic (unknown cause) tremor as described in people.This is referred to as essential tremors and are one's that happen at rest more than during movement. As you can see, the spectrum of causes is wide open and the only way to definitively confirm essential tremors is to rule out all of the other causes. This can be quite exhaustive when it comes to testing for every possible disease condition, so what we usually recommend is at least a thorough physical exam and bloodwork and full neurologic evaluation, including checking all of the nerve reflexes. If nothing out of the ordinary is noted with this work up, we are usually content to call theses essential tremors, unless other neurologic changes show up down the line.

In Forrest's case, I do not believe his enlarged heart is likely related. In fact, in this breed, many times their heart can appear enlarged on xray and it is a normal finding.

As far as treating this condition, unless it is so severe so as to be bothering them, it is usually not treated. When it is, the drug called Gabapentin, given at a low dose, is often very effective to help decrease the severity of the tremors.

I hope this is helpful. My goal is to provide you with excellent service – if you feel you have received anything less, please reply back as I am happy to address follow-up questions. Kindly rate me when you are done. Thank you for allowing me to assist you.

Dr Z

Customer: replied 4 years ago.
Could it just be related to his muscles? Is more exercise good or bad?
Most muscular diseases would not lead to trembling as much as pain, and that pain is usually most notable during or after exercise. Osteoarthritis as well, which is not muscular, but orthopedic in nature can lead to pain, usually seen when first standing up or after exercise and this can manifest as trembling. Xrays will usually identify arthritis changes but muscle disorders are hard to define without muscle biopsy. If you noted pain medications, like a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory (NSAID) seemed to relieve the tremors, then it would be safe to say they could be secondary to pain of either muscle disease or arthritis.

As far as exercise, you have to let him tell you. Moderate movement is good, but if after heavy exercise, the tremors are worse, I would tone it down a little.

Please reply if still have questions.
Customer: replied 4 years ago.
Is the fact that it is getting worse in a relatively short amount of time an indication of anything?
It could be if it was pain related. I would xray and start a trial of NSAID's pain meds to see if it helps. Also have your vet perform a neurologic evaluation to see if any other nerve reflexes were altered. This helps to rule out possible pain form other sources such as spinal or disc disease. As far as essential tremors, no, they can seem to increase or decrease at times, for no reason. Even if nothing else is found as a potential cause, and no response to pain meds, I would try the gabapentin if they are getting worse.
Customer: replied 4 years ago.
Thank you.
You are welcome. These are very challenging cases to work up and most often it is trial and error in the sense of noting response to meds tried.

Good luck and please keep me posted as to how things progress.
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