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Dr. Michael Salkin
Dr. Michael Salkin, Veterinarian
Category: Dog
Satisfied Customers: 25149
Experience:  University of California at Davis graduate veterinarian with 44 years of experience.
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We have a little dog in our care that has a persistent head-nod.

Customer Question

We have a little dog in our care that has a persistent head-nod. He was a rescue and when in kennels would do this every now and then, however now he is in a foster home after a long journey (stress related?) and now he has a nearly constant head bob. He did for one day, shortly after he arrived in his new home, make some strange cries but apart from the head nodding now seems to be happy enough.
Submitted: 2 years ago.
Category: Dog
Expert:  Dr. Michael Salkin replied 2 years ago.
Aloha! You're speaking to Dr. Michael Salkin
I'm sorry that your question wasn't answered in a timely manner. The head nodding is likely to represent idiopathic (unknown cause) head tremors. These are episodic and may be confused for focal seizures. They're often precipitated by excitement or particular head positions and owners may describe a characteristic "yes" or "no" movement of the head and normal consciousness with these tremors in contrast to the tonic-clonic or gum-chewing motions of seizures.
Tremors associated with the idiopathic tremor syndrome usually resolve within days of the initiation of corticosteroid (prednisone, e.g.)therapy which should be continued for 2-3 months. Relapses may occur. The tremors tend to improve and become less frequent over time and rarely cause any clinical dysfunction. The majority of dogs with this syndrome are small (<15kg). White dogs, including the West Highland white terrier and Maltese are overrepresented, although any breed may be affected.
Consultation with a specialist veterinary neurologist is recommended. Such a specialist is better equipped to test for the rarer causes of such behavior. Please respond with further questions or concerns if you wish.
Customer: replied 2 years ago.

The had nodding is all the time though, it is not just for a few minutes, it is not episodic and then stops and then a period without it and then starts again. Could stress and change of environment bring this on?

Expert:  Dr. Michael Salkin replied 2 years ago.
Thank you. Tremors stop as you've described and so are described as "episodic". Myoclonus - single or multiple shock-like contactions of a muscle group which may occur singly or repetitively, regularly or irregularly don't stop - even during sleep. Yes, any stressor can exacerbate tremors.
Please continue our conversation if you wish.
Dr. Michael Salkin, Veterinarian
Category: Dog
Satisfied Customers: 25149
Experience: University of California at Davis graduate veterinarian with 44 years of experience.
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Expert:  Dr. Michael Salkin replied 2 years ago.
Thank you for your kind accept. I appreciate it.

I'm going to check back with you in a week for an update. Feel free to return to our conversation - even after rating - prior to my contacting you if you wish.

Please disregard the info request.

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