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Dr. Kara
Dr. Kara, Board Certified Veterinarian
Category: Vet
Satisfied Customers: 17885
Experience:  Over 20 years of experience as a veterinarian.
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i have an 11 year old Irish Red/White Setter who is half deaf

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i have an 11 year old Irish Red/White Setter who is half deaf and half blind and toilet going a bit. She still goes and wants to go walks with our other dogs. she gets vacant momenbts quite a lot. Tonight she just started to uncontrollably shake - it felt like the inside of her head was shaking and also her back legs. This last for about 15 minutes with it subsiding or minutes in between. Could this be something to do with her brain? She is calm just now and I am watching over her. Any thoughts?? Many thanks.
Hello, I'm Dr. Kara and I have over 20 years of experience as a veterinarian. I'd like to help with your concerns about Gabriella's tremoring episode tonight.
Was she mentally aware when this episode occurred?
Were the tremors something she could stop or could she be distracted and have them stop?
It is certainly possible with your description of small muscle tremors that your girl is having petit mal seizures. These seizures affect a small group of muscles in a particular area of the body. They are not of the same significance as grand mal seizures (loss of consciousness, whole body, rhythmic, uncontrollable muscle contractions with possible loss of urine and stool continence) because the chance of body temperature increasing and subsequent brain damage is much less.
There are several things that can cause muscle contractions other than petite mal seizures. Infections, nerve damage or inflammation, kidney disease and mineral (especially calcium) or electrolyte disturbances can all cause muscle fasiculations (spasms) as well.
I need to ask if you recently applied any topical flea medications or could she have been exposed to an insecticide? If so you want to bathe her thoroughly to remove as much of the toxin as possible with something like Dawn dishwashing soap and cool water. Do not use hot water or scrub her skin as that will increase toxin absorption. Some flea control products, especially the over the counter products with high amounts of pyrethrin type insecticides can cause muscle twitches in sensitive dogs.
If this only affected her ears or head then an inner ear infection or an allergic type response would be a possibility too. But because it also affected her rear legs this seems less likely.
Another possible cause of her symptoms is intervertebral disc disease. This is when the spongy discs between the vertebrae in her spine either prolapse or leak and put pressure on her spinal cord. This is quite painful and can lead to painful muscle spasms or if there is enough pressure then even paralysis can result. Keeping her very quiet, no running, jumping or bending over (elevate her food and water bowls to head height) is best.
If she seems to be progressing in symptoms and has a grand mal seizure (unconscious, unaware of surroundings, repetitive, uncontrollable whole body muscle movements with or without loss of urine or stool) then she should be seen by a veterinarian on an emergency basis today.
If her color is good and she is eating, drinking and behaving normally otherwise I suspect that she is stable but I do recommend that your veterinarian examine her and run some tests to determine why she is having these muscle spasms. I wouldn't wait too long to have her seen as some of the things that can cause muscle spasms (like toxins, electrolyte or mineral imbalances) can cause long term problems for your girl and may be indicative of serious diseases. If this is intervertebral disc disease it is very important to relieve the inflammation so it does not progress to paralysis. If this is secondary to high blood calcium levels then addressing that promptly so there is no organ damage and tissue calcification is best.
Please let me know if you have any further questions.
Customer: replied 3 years ago.

Thank you very much for this; No she has not been exposed to anything. She did her second walk as normal and showed no sign other this out of the blue thing that anything was wrong. Her back legs were shaking violently and when I put my hand on both sides of her head it was as if she had vibrator going on inside. Her body was also shuddering.She was a bit glazed over but fully conscious.

Thanks for the further information.
I am glad to hear that toxins are not a possibility.
This episode does sound quite a bit like an atypical seizure. Not quite a grand mal episode, but a little more than I would expect with a petit mal. You can take a watch and see approach since she seems fairly normal now, though I would recommend at least a physical examination and some screening blood tests (complete blood count, biochemistry profile and thyroid profile) at your earliest convenience. If she has more episodes then the sooner she is seen the better.
Customer: replied 3 years ago.

Thank I wondered about a seizure. She is fine again just now. I certainly will take no chances with my darling dog and will immediately call our vet if it happens again. Thank you.

You are very welcome. It is tough to watch our beloved pets go through old age changes and the disease processes that come along with that, but it sounds like she has someone to watch her closely and manage them as best as possible. She is a very lucky girl. Please let me know how things go for your girl. If you have time I would love an update in a few days, Dr. Kara.
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Customer: replied 3 years ago.

Thanks I will let you know. One of my other setters is covering her in licks at the moment.

What sweet pups you have! I will look for an update from you then. Happy New Year, hopefully this is just a one time episode for her.