2016 update: Welcome! I’m glad you’re here, though I wish it were for reasons other than researching head tremors. This is an old post, and–while still totally accurate–not the stopping point for this story. After you read this and compare your dog’s tremors to Coop’s, please do check out the second update post I did and a third post with a free downloadable tremor tracker. I also recently updated the FAQs about head tremors, treatments, what’s worked, etc. It has the most up-to-date data, which you can find at this Idiopathic Head Tremors FAQs link.
If you’ve been reading for a while, you might remember when Cooper first experienced his head tremors. I thought it was a seizure. It was horrifying and scary, but after tons of tests and a consultation with a veterinary neurologist, the diagnosis was “idiopathic head tremors.” In other words: his head shakes, but we don’t know why.
It doesn’t seem to cause him pain. He seems a bit disoriented during the tremor, but then he’s totally fine immediately after. I can usually distract him out of it by asking for some very basic behaviors (sit or high five) and doling out treats. I noticed that he tries to get it to stop by turning his head all the way to the right and holding completely still.
We’ve tracked the tremors – time of day, duration, notable events, food, exercise, and so on – but there is no pattern that we’ve been able to discern. It’s so frustrating.
Anyway, he was snuggled in bed while I was folding some laundry. I looked over and saw him start to tremor, so I got a few seconds of video so you could see what we’re up against. You can see him try to hold his head to the right, then I tried to give him a treat. Thankfully, if it happens when he’s in a relaxed position like this (versus standing or in the middle of play) it seems less severe and doesn’t last as long.
Have you experienced anything like this with your dogs? For me, it’s not even the worry about the tremors, but it’s that the medical mystery aspect is so frustrating!
Also, please check out this article on idiopathic head tremors contributed by a veterinary practice.