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What are Muscle Spasms?

Muscle spasms are localized twitches that result from overexertion, neurological damage, or a physical injury. Though spasms are not dangerous in and of themselves, they can be painful, especially if they are sustained for a long period of time. They may also be an indication of a more serious condition, such as a pinched nerve, a slipped disc, or muscle damage. Muscle spasms are typically detectable as tremors beneath the skin, though a visit to the veterinarian is usually recommended for a proper diagnosis both of the spasm and of the underlying cause.

When your dog participates in strenuous physical activities or doesn’t get enough fluids, muscle contractions may be interrupted, resulting in localized spasms. Spasms are often a sign of muscle strain or physical damage. Though the spasms are not life-threatening, they can be painful and may be indicative of a more serious condition that requires medical intervention.

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Symptoms of Muscle Spasms in Dogs

A muscle spasm is easily noticeable as twitching or tremors in one area of your dog’s body. These are usually visible and can also be detected by touch. Muscle spasms themselves are typically a response to another injury or condition, and your dog may exhibit additional symptoms depending on the injury’s origins and extent, including:

  • Lameness
  • Depression
  • Pain
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Causes of Muscle Spasms in Dogs

Muscle spasms can be caused by a variety of conditions, including muscle strains or injuries, neurological disorders, allergies, dehydration, or an adverse response to medication. Seizures may also result in similar tremors, but these are distinguishable from muscle spasms by the fact that they are not localized.

When normal muscle contraction is interrupted, the muscles spasm and can cramp if sustained for long enough. This can occur due to nerve damage, physical injury, or pain in the back or legs.

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Diagnosis of Muscle Spasms in Dogs

If you notice localized twitches or ticks beneath your dog’s skin, your dog is most likely suffering from muscle spasms. The muscle spasm may clear on its own with rest and fluids, but you should bring your dog in to the veterinarian if the condition persists or is accompanied by other symptoms, such as lameness or pain. The veterinarian can perform an examination and locate the source of the spasms, which allows for proper treatment.

During this initial visit, the veterinarian will need to establish a history and medical profile. Helpful information includes:

  • Your dog’s fitness and activity levels
  • Changes in medication
  • Recent sprains or physical injuries
  • Amount of fluid intake

Further tests may be required depending on the source of the spasms. Ask the veterinarian to show you where the spasms are originating so that you can apply the proper therapy to relieve discomfort and prevent further spasms.

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Treatment of Muscle Spasms in Dogs

A number of muscle spasms can be prevented by ensuring that your dog is well hydrated and does not overexert him or herself. If your dog’s muscles begin to spasm or cramp, provide plenty of fluids and gently stretch or massage the affected muscles. Heat or cold therapy can also lessen muscle spasms while relieving any associated pain or discomfort.

Ask the veterinarian about muscle relaxants or pain relievers for your dog, which can help the cramping muscles relax and reduce spasms. Nutritional supplements, such as vitamins and minerals, herbal muscle relaxers, and electrolytes, can provide support for your dog’s muscular system while enhancing the healing process. Consult the veterinarian regarding the best treatment for your dog.

Depending on the source of the muscle spasms, additional treatment may be required to address the root cause. These include physical therapy, massage, or surgery to remove the affected nerve or source of cramping.

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Recovery of Muscle Spasms in Dogs

The best method for dealing with muscle spasms is to prevent them. Both during and after exercise, make sure that your dog has access to plenty of fluids and remains hydrated, especially on warmer days. Refrain from any strenuous activities that may lead to a sprain or muscle injury, and help your dog warm up prior to any exercise and cool down again at its conclusion.

A follow-up with the veterinarian is typically unnecessary unless the muscle spasms were a symptom of a more serious condition. Once the spasms have cleared, you can help strengthen your dog’s muscular system with nutritional supplements or a more supportive diet.

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Cost of Muscle Spasms in Dogs

The best way to start treatment (and possibly avoid a spasm altogether) is to make sure your dog has plenty of water. You can also buy electrolytes for your dog at most pet stores for around $10-$24. You may also want to buy vitamins for your dog if the source of the spasm is a nutrition imbalance. They usually cost between $15 and $45. Most pet stores may even carry herbal muscle relaxers that sell for $20 to $55 a bottle. Many drug stores carry hot and cold pads that can sell for $15 to $45 depending on the quantity and size. Another great option is taking your dog for a massage. Each session will cost around $55 to $75 for 60 minutes, but this can be very effective. If you choose to take your dog to the veterinarian, they may prescribe Methocarbamol, a muscle relaxant. This medication can cost $25 per 100 ct. or $75-$100 per 500 ct. The veterinarian may prescribe Tramadol for pain relief. Tramadol can cost $86 per 100 ct. The treatment will depend on the frequency, cause, location and severity of the muscle spasm.

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Muscle Spasms Average Cost

From 1633 quotes ranging from $500 - $6,500

Average Cost

$1,500

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Muscle Spasms Questions and Advice from Veterinary Professionals

Need pet health advice? Ask a vet

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Australian Shepherd

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Seven Years

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Unknown severity

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3 found helpful

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Muscle Spasms

My dog fell down a couple of stairs three days ago. She rubbed it off. Today I noticed muscle spasms. And she whines here and there. She’s resting more. I set up an appointment with my vet. Is my dog in danger ??

Aug. 6, 2020

Owner

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Dr. Michele K. DVM

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Thank you for your question. I would not say that she is in danger, no. She may have sprained or strained something when she feel, and she may be sore, from your description. It is good that you are having her seen by your veterinarian, as they can examine her and see what might be causing her pain. I hope that she feels better soon.

Aug. 8, 2020

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Schnauzer

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Five Months

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Unknown severity

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Noisy Breathing

She has parvo and she hasn’t ate and hasn’t really drank in 4 days. She was sleeping and started jumping twitching and is now stiff and is only blinking

Aug. 1, 2020

Owner

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Dr. Michele K. DVM

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Thank you for your question. It would be best to have her seen by your veterinarian right away. Parvo virus can be fatal if not treated, and it sounds like she needs medical attention. I hope that she is okay.

Aug. 1, 2020

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Black Lab

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Three Years

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Unknown severity

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Disorientation

Black lab. 2 months shy of 3 years of age. Showing disorientation. Rib area seeming to spasm. Nape of neck doesnt show dehydration. Please help

Aug. 1, 2020

Owner

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Dr. Michele K. DVM

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Thank you for your question. Unfortunately, without being able to see your dog, I cannot comment on what might be going on, and it would probably be best to have your dog seen by a Veterinary. They would be able to examine your dog, see what might be causing this problem, and get treatment. I hope that your dog is okay.

Aug. 1, 2020

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Shihpoo

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Four Years

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Unknown severity

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1 found helpful

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Paw How Is Twitching And Limping

What do I do to keep him comfortable until I can get him to the vet cuz I got to find a new that passed away

July 30, 2020

Owner

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Jessica N. DVM

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Hello- Thank you for your question. I would recommend keeping him confined and resting until you can get an appointment made with a veterinarian. I would call around and see if he can be seen in the next couple of days so that a vet can assess the location of the pain, decide if x-rays are needed, and prescribe appropriate pain medication for him. I hope you gets to feeling better soon.

July 30, 2020

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Poodle

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Four Years

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Tension Around Chest

Koda is whining and breathing heavily, although he has been laying around for a few hours. We went on a three mile walk this morning and he kept laying down whenever we paused to cross a street. If prompted to stand on his hind legs and lean on my chest, his upper chest and back tense up, almost like a giant heave or a sob.

July 26, 2020

Owner

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Dr. Sara O. DVM

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Hello, So sorry to hear that your dog isn't feeling well. From the signs that you are describing I would recommend that he got to the vet as soon as possible. Him breathing very heavy even after resting for a few hours worries me that he may have something pretty severe going on. I hope your dog can get into the vet soon and start to feel better.

July 26, 2020

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Bison

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Mixed

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3 Months

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Moderate severity

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Pain
Sapsms

A 2.5 month old mixed breed stray pup I recently took in started having some skin troubles.I took him to the vet for consultation and they prescribed him half an Ivermectin tablet per day four days for four days.On the third day I started noticing the pup become weak and on the same day he started whining and crying loudly while trying to sleep.Later I noticed him having spasms in his right front leg and he couldn't sleep and whined and cried all night.I took him to the vet again and they gave him vitamin B supplements.I'm not sure what to do further.

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joycey

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Pit bull

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7 Years

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Moderate severity

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Moderate severity

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Weight Loss Muscle Spasms Lethargy

Our 7 year old pitbull,Joycey has experienced weight loss and muscle spasms since her ear surgery. She has had an abdominal ultrasound and x-rays all negative. She is also lethargic.

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Lena

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Mini-Schnauzer

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Four Years

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Moderate severity

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Moderate severity

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Spasms

My four year old mini-schnauzer seems to be having some contractions. She will stretch her body as if she was going to do a normal stretch, but will begin to whine as if in pain. She is having normal bowel movement; not much urine when she goes. Please help. Can't bear to see her in pain.

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maddy

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Pointer

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13 Years

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Fair severity

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What Looks Like Cramp Doesnt
Looks Like Cramp Leg Goes Stiff

hi my 13 year old pointer is very fit,but when she gets up its almost like she gets cramp and after a massage of her leg, she is fine, this does not happen all the time any advice would be helpful

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Cooper

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Labrador Husky

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3 Years

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Moderate severity

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Moderate severity

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Pain
Shaking
Crying
Panting
Exhaustion
Cramp

Hello! I'm really concerned about my dog, Cooper. He's a Lab/Shepherd mix and is about 3.5 years old. Within the past 6 months he's had some awful (I'm guessing?) Leg cramps. During these episodes his eyes water and he shakes horribly. It usually subsides if we start calming him and trying to rub his legs and then he's back to normal, but exhausted and thirsty.. Does this sound like a bigger problem than just leg cramps?

Muscle Spasms Average Cost

From 1633 quotes ranging from $500 - $6,500

Average Cost

$1,500

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