Jump to section

What are Muscle Spasms?

Muscle spasms are localized twitches that might 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.

Compare Pet Insurance & Wellness Plans

Save up to $273 per year

Compare plans
advertisement image

Muscle Spasms Average Cost

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

Average Cost

$1,500

Protect yourself and your pet. Compare top pet insurance plans.

Symptoms of Muscle Spasms in Dogs

A muscle spasm is often 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
arrow-up-icon

Top

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.

arrow-up-icon

Top

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.

arrow-up-icon

Top

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.

arrow-up-icon

Top

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, based on your veterinarian's recommendations.

arrow-up-icon

Top

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. 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 take your dog to the veterinarian, they may prescribe different medications or therapies, and the treatment will depend on the frequency, cause, location and severity of the muscle spasm.

arrow-up-icon

Top

*Wag! may collect a share of sales or other compensation from the links on this page. Items are sold by the retailer, not Wag!.

Muscle Spasms Average Cost

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

Average Cost

$1,500

Protect yourself and your pet. Compare top pet insurance plans.

arrow-up-icon

Top

Written by Darlene Stott

Veterinary reviewed by: Michele K.

Published: 09/30/2015, edited: 02/26/2021

Muscle Spasms Questions and Advice from Veterinary Professionals

Need pet health advice? Ask a vet

question-icon-cta

Ask a Vet

dog-name-icon

dog-breed-icon

Cheagle

dog-age-icon

Three Years

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Unknown severity

thumbs-up-icon

4 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Unknown severity

Has Symptoms

Muscle Flutter

When I pet her back (in the middle, and up to the neck) her muscles visibly twitch, similar to a spasm. She doesn’t react like she’s in pain, but I’ve never noticed this before. What could cause this? Also, I’m not entirely sure if she’s a cheagle—this is a guess.

Nov. 29, 2020

Owner

answer-icon

Dr. Sara O. DVM

recommendation-ribbon

4 Recommendations

Hello, dogs have a muscle that runs along the back called the cutaneous trunci. When you touch this muscle is will twitch. This is the same muscle that they can use to move their skin. If your dog is otherwise acting normal I would think that you are just touching this muscle.

Nov. 30, 2020

Was this experience helpful?

dog-name-icon

dog-breed-icon

Blue Heeler

dog-age-icon

Eleven Years

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Serious severity

thumbs-up-icon

4 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Serious severity

Has Symptoms

Muscle Spasm

My dog is 11.5 year old blue heeler/American bulldog mix. He’s always been in pretty good health for his age and size (80lb). He does have a little hip dysplasia, but nothing that has slowed him down much. Yesterday we had a big cold snap and the dog was extra active. Today he just seems to not feel good. I know his legs/hips are sore so I gave him a spring and then his cbd/hip vitamins. He is eating and seems pretty alert still but when went to run on him just now, he crumpled and wined in pain when we hit his side (not even to his hip yet). It feels like he’s having a muscle spasm/shaking.

Oct. 27, 2020

Owner

answer-icon

Dr. Linda S. MVB MRCVS

recommendation-ribbon

4 Recommendations

Hi there, you are through to Dr Linda. I'm sorry to hear this has happened; poor boy. There are a few things that could have occurred here including exacerbated arthritic pain, a ruptured ligament in the knee, a dislocated hip, a muscle strain etc A vet check would be sensible to determine exactly what is going on. I suspect very much he will benefit from some prescribed pain relief and anti-inflammatories. Rest him as much as you can and ensure he has a nice padded bed and is kept warm. Wishing him all the best.

Oct. 27, 2020

Was this experience helpful?

dog-name-icon

dog-breed-icon

Shar Pei

dog-age-icon

2 1/2

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Unknown severity

thumbs-up-icon

1 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Unknown severity

Has Symptoms

Sensitive To Touch On Her Back And Side That Makes Her Twitch When Touched.

Why does my dog twitch when you touch her back area, or even down sides? Her race will twitch/contract and it worries me. She does make any noise as if she is in pain. But to me it looks like that can’t feel okay. She isn’t limping, she runs around with the other dogs and plays, she eats great, she just seems super sensitive to touch on her back and sides. Please help me.

Oct. 3, 2020

Owner

answer-icon

Dr. Sara O. DVM

recommendation-ribbon

1 Recommendations

Hello So sorry to hear about your dog. They do have a muscle that runs down the back that will twitch when you touch it but if this is abnormal behavior, he may have an upset stomach. If the is vomiting or having diarrhea, it would be best to see your vet. You can also give them a bland diet of chicken and rice to help settle their stomachs. Good Luck.

Oct. 3, 2020

Was this experience helpful?

dog-name-icon

dog-breed-icon

Great Pyrenees mix

dog-age-icon

Nine Years

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Unknown severity

thumbs-up-icon

0 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Unknown severity

Has Symptoms

Tender Paw

My wife was walking our pup Norah, she came up a little lame on her left paw, we do not see anything so maybe a bite? It is a little red but she is still keeping weight off it. It also seems to be in a spasm state?

Sept. 28, 2020

Owner

answer-icon

Dr. Michele K. DVM

recommendation-ribbon

0 Recommendations

Thank you for your question. I think, given her age, it is possible that she may have some arthritis in her foot or some other type of injury like that that is causing this sort of lameness for her. If she does not improve, and continues to limp or seem bothered by that foot, then I think it would be best to have her seen by a veterinarian. They will be able to examine her and see if she needs any medication or treatment. I hope that all goes well for her.

Oct. 3, 2020

Was this experience helpful?

dog-name-icon

dog-breed-icon

Dachshund

dog-age-icon

Seven Years

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Unknown severity

thumbs-up-icon

0 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Unknown severity

Has Symptoms

Neck Discomfort

My dog hasn’t been herself, she has muscle spasm in here neck, swollen boobs and is walking like it hurts she can’t roll in the dirt anymore which she loves doing without whinning

Sept. 28, 2020

Owner

answer-icon

Dr. Michele K. DVM

recommendation-ribbon

0 Recommendations

Thank you for your question. Without being able to see her, unfortunately, it is difficult for me to say what might be going on, but it does seem that she is in pain, and it would be best to have her seen by a veterinarian as soon as possible. Since most OTC human pain medications are not good for dogs, they will be able to examine her and see what is going on, and get the right treatment for her. I hope that she is okay.

Oct. 7, 2020

Was this experience helpful?

dog-name-icon

Bison

dog-breed-icon

Mixed

dog-age-icon

3 Months

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Moderate severity

thumbs-up-icon

0 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Moderate severity

Has Symptoms

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.

dog-name-icon

joycey

dog-breed-icon

Pit bull

dog-age-icon

7 Years

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Moderate severity

thumbs-up-icon

0 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Moderate severity

Has Symptoms

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.

dog-name-icon

Lena

dog-breed-icon

Mini-Schnauzer

dog-age-icon

Four Years

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Moderate severity

thumbs-up-icon

0 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Moderate severity

Has Symptoms

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.

dog-name-icon

maddy

dog-breed-icon

Pointer

dog-age-icon

13 Years

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Fair severity

thumbs-up-icon

1 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Fair severity

Has Symptoms

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

dog-name-icon

Cooper

dog-breed-icon

Labrador Husky

dog-age-icon

3 Years

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Moderate severity

thumbs-up-icon

0 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Moderate severity

Has Symptoms

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

Protect yourself and your pet. Compare top pet insurance plans.

Compare Pet Insurance & Wellness Plans

Save up to $273 per year

Compare plans
advertisement image
Need pet insurance?