Possible Causes of Dog Muscle Spasms

The most common causes of dog muscle spasms are physical or neurological, but viruses, toxins and disease can cause similar symptoms. In the dog, tendon, bones and muscles form a complex and interconnected system designed to propel, support and protect the animal. An injury or abnormality anywhere in the body can cause a muscle spasm.

Spasms Due To Injury

Often, when a large muscle spasm occurs in your dog, injury to the legs or back can be at fault. When an injury occurs, the muscles tense in order to protect and brace the damaged joint. Certain breeds of dogs-those with unusually long backs such as Dachshunds and Bassett Hounds-are more prone to back spasms.

Chronic back spasms can be treated with pain medication, surgery, chiropractic or acupuncture.

Leg muscle spasms can appear suddenly in any dog. They are often the result of over activity or an abrupt movement. If the pain is not severe, it is usually safe to let the dog "walk it off".

Epileptic Seizures Include Spasms

Canine epilepsy causes recurrent seizures in dogs. Prior to a seizure, dogs may experience anxiety, stress and muscle tremors. There are drug and surgical treatments available to control seizures.

Degenerative Myelopathy Causes Back Leg Weakness

Degenerative myelopathy is caused by nerve function loss in the spinal cord. It is most common in German Shepherd Dogs, but is seen in other breeds as well. Initial symptoms include back leg weakness and loss of coordination. Exercise and supportive care are the only current treatments.

Canine Stress Syndrome and Spasms

Similar to (and often misdiagnosed as) epilepsy, CSS is a hereditary condition that causes muscle tremors, spasms and seizures. It is believed to be neurological in nature and is most commonly seen in Labrador Retrievers.

Hypoglycemia Causes Muscle Weakness

Low blood sugar or hypoglycemia affects dogs, particularly toy breeds, puppies under the age of three months or dogs under physical, parasitic or nutritional stress. Symptoms include lethargy, confusion and muscle weakness or spasm.

Distemper Causes CNS Failure

Distemper is a contagious and often fatal viral condition that causes gastrointestinal, respiratory and central nervous system failure. Most dogs are vaccinated against this deadly disease. There is no cure for distemper but supportive care can save lives. Symptoms of distemper include seizures and paralysis as well as depression, cough, nasal discharge and eye inflammation. If you suspect your dog has distemper, contact a qualified veterinarian immediately.

Other Possible Causes of Spasms

Brain tumors and encephalitis can cause muscle spasms. Encephalitis, a swelling of the brain, is spread by mosquitoes. There is a type that is specific to the Pug, as well. Brain tumors and encephalitis require immediate veterinary treatment.