2016 update: Welcome! I’m glad you’re here, though I wish it were for reasons other than researching head tremors. You may have arrived here from my original head tremor post. If not, there’s more video and detail there. After you read these and compared your dog’s tremors to Coop’s, please do check out a recently updated FAQs about head tremors, treatments, what’s worked, etc.
Editor’s note: This is a guest post that I requested on behalf of everyone whose dogs are suffering from idiopathic head tremors. Based on the comments from my previous post (found here) I knew this was a topic that warranted further review. If you have additional questions, please leave them in the comments so we can continue our discussion!
What You Need to Know about Your Dog’s Idiopathic Head Tremors
Many dog owners have to watch their precious friends suffer from idiopathic head tremors on a regular basis. This problem can make owners feel helpless as their pets experience uncontrollable “head bobbing.” Some dogs bob their heads side-to-side, while others bob up-and-down. Either way, many have described the bobbing as resembling the “dog version” of Parkinson’s disease in humans.
Idiopathic head tremors can occur with just about any “bully dog breeds.” Some of these breeds include Bulldogs, Pit Bulls and Doberman Pinchers. Researchers continue to conduct studies. Yet, currently, no one really knows for sure why the tremors occur. Theoretically, the tremors are harmless. However, they can sometimes resemble seizures, which can be very stressful on owners.
How to Deal with Your Dog’s Idiopathic Head Tremors
If your dog experiences these annoying tremors, it’s important to remain calm. According to experts, the head bobbing doesn’t actually affect your pet. Yet, panicking will only cause your best friend to panic as well, which may cause the tremors to increase.
Instead, evaluate the condition of your dog. Is your buddy responsive and alert? What color are your furry buddy’s gums? Have any other parts of your pet’s body been affected by the tremors?
A typical idiopathic head tremor episode will generally last around three minutes. Once the head bobbing is over, your dog should return to normal, as if the tremors never occurred at all. If your dog does appear to have been affected, contact your local veterinarian immediately.
If your dog suffers from tremor episodes several times per day or over a period of a few days, that’s a good reason to visit your vet. Most pets never experience tremors while actually in the vet’s office. So, try to get your dog’s episodes on video. That way, your veterinarian can review the footage and use it to help him/her make an educated diagnosis.
Are Idiopathic Head Tremors Hurting Your Dog?
Many dog owners have reported their pets having recurring idiopathic head tremors for a while. Then, they suddenly just stop altogether. Until that happens, keep a journal which details the tremors. This will help you better understand what some of the possible triggers may be for the head bobbing condition.
In the meantime, remain calm, because these seizure-like symptoms are not life-threatening. That means they have no long-term effects on your dog. The actual point of treatment is to lower the stress and anxiety levels of dog owners who hate watching their pets suffer.
Dog owners with pets who suffer from idiopathic head tremors say that their buddies are entirely aware during episodes. Their ears stay up as if alert. They respond to your calls and commands as usual. And, their appetites aren’t affected.
The next time your dog suffers a tremor episode, simply try calling her/his over to you. Then, have your pet sit still so that she/he can focus. Usually, this will help to release your pet from the “tremor trance.” Some owners even say that doggie treats can also release them from the trance.
This article was written by Ryean Bishop for Bannock Animal Medical Center (BAMCvet). Worried about your pet’s idiopathic head tremors or other medical issues? Contact BAMCvet to schedule your pet’s appointment today.
Finally, for reference, here’s a video I posted of Cooper having a tremor on Saturday: