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Can Dogs Get Muscle Spasms?


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A muscle spasm or cramp can strike at any time, and boy do they hurt! If you've ever experienced a spasm, you know well that it can leave you practically lame. The affected muscle seizes up and sends a shooting pain from the area. The pain can last from just a few seconds to several hours or more in severe cases. These spasms affect all sorts of people for a whole slew of different reasons. But have you ever wondered if our furry friends suffer from the same issue?

Can Dogs Get Muscle Spasms?


Dogs for sure get painful muscle spasms just like humans! That being said, our canine counterparts are quite a bit tougher than we are, for the most part. They often soldier through muscle spasms without so much as a whimper. Sometimes these spasms happen in dogs for simple reasons that are easily resolved. Other times, veterinary attention is needed to help stop the spasms from happening. Either way, to be safe you should bring your pup in to see your vet if you suspect that spasms are going on.

Does My Dog Have Muscle Spasms?

As we've already touched on, muscle spasms in dogs can be subtle! So, how do you tell if your dog is experiencing these painful cramps? There are some warning signs that you can look for.

  • If your pooch has a spasming muscle, you may be able to see it twitching under the skin. 
  • The area will likely feel very hard and the affected muscle may be bunched up in a lump. 
  • If there is an underlying condition causing the spasm, your dog may even be unable to walk.

Usually, a muscle spasm is caused by too much exercise, not enough water, or a combo of both. But sometimes, a muscle spasm is an indication of a bigger problem, like a slipped disk or a severe allergic reaction.

While most muscle spasms are harmless, it's always a good idea to let a vet confirm what's wrong. A physical examination can reveal other injuries or conditions that may be causing the spasms.

To read more about all of the signs and related issues associated with muscle spasms, check out our guide, Muscle Spasms in Dogs.

How Do I Treat My Dog's Muscle Spasms?

Once you know that your dog is getting these nasty contractions, you likely will want to know how you can help. There are different things that can be done to ease your pooch’s pains while enduring spasms.

  • Make sure that you keep your pup well hydrated if prone to muscle spasms. Hot or cold therapy can be used to relax the muscle. For extra bad cases, your vet may prescribe a muscle relaxer.

  • After you've figured out the cause of the spasms, they can often be prevented. Your vet can provide you with supplements or a special diet specifically for muscles.

How Are Muscle Spasms Similar in Dogs and Humans?

Most of the characteristics of a muscle spasm are the same across the board no matter your species. Things to watch for include:

  • Twitching

  • Pain

  • Lameness

How Are Muscle Spasms Different in Dogs and Humans?

Because muscle spasms are not always obvious, and our dogs can't explain to us what the problem is, the issue presents itself a little differently in our canine companions. Notable differences are:

  • Pain tolerance - dogs are way tougher than us, and may not show signs of pain even while suffering.

  • Identifying the spasm - a person can easily point to the affected muscle, it can be harder to find the spasm on a dog.

  • The cause of muscle spasms in humans is sometimes from consuming caffeine or cold medicine, neither of which dogs take.

Case Study 

For some dogs, especially tall ones, muscle spasms are just a part of growing up. One Labrador was having sporadic muscle pain and twitching in his shoulder. His concerned owner brought him to the vet to get a check-up. The vet ran x-rays on the pup to see if there were any injuries in the shoulder. Everything came back clear, and the vet diagnosed the dog with growing pains. As the dog got older, the spasms stopped bothering him.

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