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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.

Muscle Spasms Average Cost

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

Average Cost

$1,500

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
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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, based on your veterinarian's recommendations.

Muscle spasms can be expensive to treat. If you suspect your dog has muscle spasms or is at risk, start searching for pet insurance today. Brought to you by Pet Insurer, Wag! Wellness lets pet parents compare insurance plans from leading companies like PetPlan and Trupanion. Find the “pawfect” plan for your pet in just a few clicks!

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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. 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.

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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

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Cheagle

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Three Years

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Unknown severity

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12 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

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Dr. Sara O. DVM

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12 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

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Blue Heeler

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Eleven Years

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Serious severity

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18 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

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Dr. Linda S. MVB MRCVS

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18 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

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Muscle Spasms Average Cost

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

Average Cost

$1,500

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