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Why Is My Dog Twitching?

Updated April 17, 2017

Your dog's twitching could be harmless, or the sign of physical trouble. Learning the range of what could be ailing your animal will help you decide when not to worry and when to get to the veterinarian quickly. If the episode passes, your worries can be eased; if the twitching persists, get him the medical care he needs.

Common Signs

A dog often will twitch in her sleep, especially during exciting or frightful dreams. It might also be chilly where your pet is resting, and these twitches are actually instinctual shivers to ward off the cold. Get your dog a blanket, turn up the heat and see if the twitching improves. If the episodes continue, it could be a symptom of something more serious that only a veterinarian can properly diagnose.

Viral Infection

If your dog is having facial twitches that look like he's trying to chew his tongue, it could be a sign of being infected with the distemper virus. A pulsing will occur between the eyes and temples -- sometimes on one side, other times on both. Other common symptoms include diarrhoea, vomiting and conjunctivitis. Though antibiotics can help treat the symptoms and eradicate the virus, and disinfectant can kill the virus in your home, it's likely the twitching will continue as the result of permanent nerve damage. Get your pets vaccinated against distemper to avoid this virus.

Other Causes

According to veterinarian Michael Goldberg at Vets.ca, constant twitching in isolated areas -- like the legs, for instance -- could also be a sign of other ailments, in some breeds. For labradors, states Goldberg, twitching could be a sign of muscular dystrophy. It could also be a case of nerve damage caused by an injury that's causing surrounding muscle tissue to contract against your dog's will. As a homeopathic remedy, Goldberg recommends upping your dog's daily vitamin C intake through a supplement called calcium ascorbate.

What It's Not

Constant twitching could lead some dog owners to surmise that their dog has developed some form of seizure disorder. These ailments display themselves, however, in more complete trembles and a loss of muscular control, not in simple twitches. Observe when and how much your dog is twitching, then run the exact symptoms by your veterinarian if the problem persists. Get the twitching on video so your vet can see the symptoms.

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About the Author

Dan Harkins has been a full-time journalist since 1997. Prior to working in the alternative press, he served as a staff writer and editor for daily publications such as the "St. Petersburg Times" and "Elyria Chronicle-Telegram." Harkins holds a Bachelor of Arts in journalism from the University of South Florida.