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Having Muscle Spasms in Dogs

Why is my dog having muscle spasms?

What are Having Muscle Spasms?

Your dog may have muscle spasms for a variety of reasons.  If your dog is having muscle spasms, you will notice movement or a twitching in a part of his body. Usually occurring in response to an injury or condition, muscle spasms can occur as a result of the following:

  • Overexertion, possibly resulting in dehydration
  • Neurological damage
  • Physical injury
  • Hypoglycemia

Muscle spasms can be painful, particularly when they are continuous. Upon understanding what is causing the muscle spasms to occur in your dog, you can make efforts to minimize their occurrence.

Why Having Muscle Spasms Occurs in Dogs

Your dog may have muscle spasms for the following reasons:

Overexertion, Possibly Resulting in Dehydration

If your dog engages in a large amount of physical activity and/or he does not drink enough fluids, an interruption of his muscle contractions can occur, resulting in muscle spasms. 

Neurological Damage

Your dog’s central nervous system and peripheral nervous system can experience neurological damage. Some neurological disorders are the result of trauma and injury while others may be due to a genetic predisposition, a reaction to medication or an underlying health condition. 

Physical Injury

If your dog experiences a physical injury, like a muscle strain or damage, a pinched nerve or slipped disc, it can lead to muscle spasms. When injured, your dog’s muscles will become tense so as to protect the joint that has been damaged. A physical injury can also result in neurological damage.


If your dog has a low blood sugar concentration it is known as hypoglycemia. The main energy source for your dog is sugar in the form of glucose. When his blood sugar levels are low it will affect the function of his organs and brain. Hypoglycemia may be due to:

  • Endocrine or hepatic disorders
  • A higher requirement for glucose

Not getting enough glucose due to fasting or experiencing toxicity

What to do if your Dog is Having Muscle Spasms

If your dog appears to be experiencing muscle spasms, you will want to think about whether it happens regularly or rarely. If you have seen spasms occur on a regular basis, and/or the spasms continue even after your dog has gotten rest and is fully hydrated, or if he is displaying lameness and appears to be in pain, he should be evaluated by your veterinarian. 

Your veterinarian will ask you about what you have observed as far as your dog’s muscle spasms (location and frequency) and will examine your dog to locate the source of the spasms. Your veterinarian will attempt to determine the cause of the spasms and will inquire as to whether your dog may have become injured recently. Based upon the information that you provide and what he sees during his examination of your dog, your veterinarian may recommend additional evaluations. If he suspects hypoglycemia, your veterinarian will test your dog’s blood glucose value as well as seek to find out the cause of the condition and measure how his organs are functioning. Once your veterinarian has determined what is causing your dog to have muscle spasms, appropriate treatment will be recommended. Treatment can include:

  • Administering fluids
  • Stretching or massaging the muscles affected
  • Physical therapy
  • Hot or cold therapy
  • Muscle relaxants
  • Nutritional supplements
  • Surgery

Prevention of Having Muscle Spasms

Ensuring proper hydration is important in avoiding muscle spasms, therefore you will want to provide your dog with plenty of water that he can easily access. Avoiding physical overexertion is also helpful. Should you notice your dog experiencing a spasm, you can gently stretch or massage the muscles that are affected. Supervising your dog and keeping him on his leash when in places where there is a lot going on can help him to avoid situations that can lead to injury.

A healthy, well-rounded diet that provides your dog with all of the nutrients he needs is key for his overall health and annual examinations by your veterinarian will allow any health conditions to be caught early before they progress and become more difficult to treat.

Cost of Having Muscle Spasms

The cost of your dog’s muscle spasms will depend on what is causing them. If the muscle spasms are the result of overexertion and/or dehydration, rest and rehydration can resolve the twitching at no cost to you. Should the muscle spasms be due to hypoglycemia, the cost will be dependent upon the underlying condition that is causing it to occur. On average the treatment can cost from $1,000 to $8,000.

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