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Ask Dr. Michael Salkin Your Own Question
Dr. Michael Salkin
Dr. Michael Salkin, Veterinarian
Category: Dog
Satisfied Customers: 32859
Experience:  University of California at Davis graduate veterinarian with 45 years of experience.
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The other night my dog was limping her right paw. She was not

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The other night my dog was limping her right paw. She was not acting like she was in pain at all. In the middle of the night she was panting excessively, I let her off the bed, and she was walking like an "old dog" with arthritis, (She is a 2 year old lab mix) Her back and front leg muscles were spasming, to the point where you could actually see the muscles jumping around. She acts completely fine during the day, her limp is gone. Last night, she woke up with excessive panting, to the point where the bed was actually shaking from her panting, but no muscle spasms. What could be the cause?
Fiona's presentation is curious because it appears only at night. That's suggestive of over-exercise during the day which is causing that "Charlie-horse" effect of spasming at night. Curiously, it's similar to what I experience after strenuous hiking in the mountains. Other considerations include a polymyositis (multiple muscle inflammation) and polyneuritis (multiple nerve inflammation) but these are very rare diseases and don't distinguish between night and day. Her initial lameness followed by excessive panting does suggest pain and I can concur that muscle spasms can be quite painful...yet she didn't appear to be spasming last night. Perhaps there was painful musucle inflammation but without spasms. I'm hopeful that this is going to be a transient and benign problem because it can be quite challenging clarifying the rare muscular and nerve disorders of dogs often requiring advanced testing by specialist veterinary internists. Please respond with additional information and further questions or concerns if you wish.
Customer: replied 2 years ago.
Do you think that with a few doses of her "doggy aspirin" that we should see a decrease in her spasming and panting? After the initial occurrence of her spasms I contacted an emergency vet clinic and they said she may be having a seizure, but she was completely alert the whole time. Do you think that a seizure could also be a possibility?
It's a consideration. A simple partial seizure (previously called petit mal) can be evidenced by focal or asymmetric sensory or motor activity involving any part of the body. A complex partial seizure (also called psychomotor seizure) can be associated with autonomic signs such as salivation and vomiting and is associated with a change in mentation (mental status) and/or behavior. Only a general seizure (previously called grand mal) involves a loss of consciousness. You can certainly see if aspirin dosed at 10 mg/lb with food up to every 12 hours is of value. Please continue our conversation if you wish.
Customer: replied 2 years ago.
Based on what you know, if Fiona continues to have spasms/panting issues after 5 days worth of aspirin, (ruling out that her spasms are pain related) what would your next step be in figuring out what the issue is?
I would video her behavior including her walk during an episode. This is a good example in which a picture is worth a 1000 words. In fact, I'd like to see a video if you could upload one to an external site such as YouTube and then give me the link to it. Remember not to mark it as "private". If I believe her to be experiencing a seizure, I can lead you in the right direction. An anticonvulsant drug rather than an antiinflammatory drug such as aspirin would be indicated.
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Customer: replied 2 years ago.
I will do so, if it should happen again, which I hope it doesn't. Thank you so much for your time!
You're quite welcome. Thank you for your kind accept. I appreciate it. I can't set a follow-up in this venue so please return to our conversation - even after rating - with an update at your convenience.