Dog cramps: types, causes, symptoms, treatment

Dog cramps are an alarming symptom that indicates the development of a serious pathology. Owners need to know the most common causes of these seizures and the methods of first aid for them. But to determine the disease that caused the convulsive syndrome, only a specialist in veterinary medicine can contact him after his first manifestation.

Nature of seizures

Having described exactly the nature of the seizures in your pet, the owner can help the doctor quickly make the correct diagnosis and prescribe the appropriate treatment.

There are 3 types of convulsive seizures.

  • Convulsive cramps. The dog has jerky twitching of the muscles of the body, but at the same time it remains conscious.
  • Clonic convulsions. There is a sharp increase in the tone of the extensor muscles, in which the dog falls to one side and greatly extends the limbs. After 30-40 seconds, this state is replaced by relaxation, when the animal can stand up and hold the body on its paws. Spasm of the facial muscles leads to the fact that the eyes remain open even at the moment when the dog loses consciousness.
  • Tonic cramps. The contraction of individual muscle fibers occurs slowly and for a long time, causing pain, inability to relax the body or make movement.

Veterinarians also use the term focal cramps to indicate seizures accompanied by asymmetric symptoms. They develop with damage to one hemisphere of the brain and are manifested by the following symptoms:

  • unsteady gait;
  • frequent turns of the head in one direction due to unilateral contraction of the facial muscles;
  • catching nonexistent flies;
  • causeless aggression and howl.

When the second half of the brain is involved in the process, convulsions take a generalized form.

Epileptic seizures

Epileptic seizures are allocated in a separate category, as they are tied to a specific disease and are always accompanied by loss of consciousness. They can take several forms.

Partial cramps

In case of brain damage due to the penetration of infectious agents, injuries, neoplasms, metabolic disorders or severe intoxication, partial convulsions develop. According to the clinical picture, an experienced doctor can determine the localization of the pathology.

The defeat of the temporal and occipital lobes is characterized by:

  • inappropriate behavior;
  • muscle twitching in various parts of the body;
  • imaginary chewing movements;
  • intense swallowing movements;
  • smacking due to excessive salivation.

The defeat of the hypothalamus and structures adjacent to the thalamus is manifested:

  • chasing your own tail;
  • frequent bouts of vomiting and diarrhea;
  • self-mutilation.

Severe arousal in partial seizures can spread to nearby areas of the brain, leading to a generalization of the process and a general epileptic seizure.

Generalized cramps

These seizures are recorded quite rarely and always pass with complete loss of consciousness. They are characterized by 2 stages of development.

  • Tonic phaseaccompanied by an excessive increase in muscle tone.
  • Clonic phase, in which twitching of the front and hind legs, lower jaw and neck, excessive salivation, involuntary urination and defecation.

Such seizures are characteristic predominantly for congenital epilepsy. They develop as a result of the diffuse spread of excitation throughout the cerebral cortex and can be provoked by poisoning, a sharp change in diet, as well as a violation of metabolic processes in the body.

The duration of a generalized epileptic seizure is from one to one and a half minutes. Immediately after its completion, the animal has disorientation, weakness, anxiety, drowsiness. Gradually, the physiological state returns to normal.

Stages of convulsive seizures

There are 4 periods of development of clinical signs of seizures.

  • Prodromal period in dogs of small breeds it is more clearly expressed than in large animals. It is manifested by causeless anxiety, obsession, the search for a secluded place, plaintive whining and fright.
  • Aura represents the initial clinical stage of seizures, during which the animal makes chewing movements, licks its lips and nose. The gait becomes shaky, profuse salivation develops, vomiting may occur.
  • Ictal period characterized by the manifestation of clinical symptoms, which include complete or partial loss of consciousness, uncontrolled bowel movements and urination. The animal cramps the paws, after which muscle cramps can pass through the entire body.
  • Postictal period may stretch for several hours, during which the dog noticeable loss of orientation in space, there is a violation of the sensory perception of surrounding objects, increased thirst and hunger.

Causes of Dog Cramps

The causes of seizures in dogs can be divided into several main groups:

  • infectious diseases;
  • violation of metabolic processes;
  • injuries
  • poisoning.

A special place in this classification is occupied by death cramps in an old dog.

Single episodes of excitement can be observed in pets with a sensitive nervous system. In representatives of shorthair breeds, a convulsive seizure can occur from a cold, after a long stay on the street or in an unheated room. But in the hot season, there is a high probability of seizures from heat stroke.

Infectious diseases

Since convulsions themselves are not a separate disease, for their elimination it is necessary to correctly diagnose and develop a comprehensive treatment of pathology. Only in this case can the absence of recurrent muscle spasms be predicted.


The most dangerous disease characterized by global damage to the nervous system is rabies. Convulsions and paralysis often begin to develop already in the first stage of the disease. In addition, the animal noted:

  • aggressiveness turning into fury;
  • constant profuse salivation and secretion of foam from the mouth;
  • strabismus;
  • exhaustion;
  • rabies.

3-5 days after the appearance of the rabies clinic, the pet dies, because the treatment has not been developed. The only measure that helps prevent this disease is timely vaccination.


Despite the fact that most dogs are insensitive to tetanus toxin, a sharp decrease in the resistance of the animal's body can lead to infection and the appearance of symptoms of the disease. The pet has a strong weakness, lethargy, strenuous gait.

Convulsive contractions of the masticatory muscles lead to difficulty in movement of the jaw. Gradually, the process spreads to the muscles of the neck, forelegs and other parts of the body. At the last stage, prolonged tonic cramps appear, in which the body and limbs are very straightened, causing pain and making movement impossible. After this comes the death of the animal.

Carnivore Plague

In those cases when the dog that has suffered an intestinal or respiratory form of the plague, after the recovery period begins to involuntarily contract the muscles of the lips and cheeks, twitch its legs, and the animal makes imaginary chewing movements, this may indicate the development of the nervous form of the disease. signs increase, photophobia appears, the dog beats in convulsions, the interval between which is 30-60 minutes. Sometimes at this time the pet does not recover and dies within 24 hours.


This disease can develop in the form of complications after:

  • purulent otitis media, rhinitis and other inflammatory processes in the head;
  • sepsis;
  • traumatic brain injuries.

But the most severe form of encephalitis develops after a tick bite, which is the carrier of the causative agent of the disease.

Characteristic signs are convulsions, accompanied by:

  • strong temperature jump;
  • paralysis;
  • increased pain in the head and neck;
  • unaccountable aggression, followed by apathy.

If you notice a tick on the dog’s body, you should immediately consult a specialist, since infection occurs within the first seven minutes after sucking the parasite. Treatment begun after the onset of clinical symptoms in 90% of cases is ineffective, and the animal dies.

After vaccination

Cases are recorded when, after vaccination, puppies begin to have convulsions, vomiting, diarrhea, and fever.

Most often this occurs during the application of the complex vaccine to young animals with weak immunity or without preliminary deworming.

Metabolic disorders

Seizures may be evidence of metabolic disorders in the body associated with deficiencies in feeding, genetic predisposition, and features of the nervous system of animals. They can also occur during poisoning, after childbirth or as a result of malfunctioning of internal organs.

Acute hypoglycemia

An insufficient amount of glucose in the blood also adversely affects the health status of the dog, as well as its excess. A slight decrease in its concentration leads to lethargy, apathy, refusal to feed and gastrointestinal upset. But a sharp drop in sugar appears:

  • clonic-tonic convulsions;
  • loss of consciousness;
  • paresis and paralysis.

If you do not enter a glucose solution intravenously or subcutaneously, the animal falls into a coma and dies.

Important! If it is not possible to inject the drug, but the dog is conscious, then you should try to pour 100-150 ml of very sweet water into her mouth. But this must be done very carefully so that the animal does not choke.

Convulsions field labor (eclampsia)

As a result of dysfunction of the parathyroid gland and the cessation of calcium intake from bone tissue into the blood, postpartum convulsions are observed in some females. At the same time, this mineral is intensively excreted in milk, leading to its deficiency in the mother's body.

Clinically, at the first stage, this is manifested by a loss of interest in puppies, unreasonable anxiety, and disorientation in space. Then painful cramps, muscle tremors, and fever appear. Dyspnea and tachycardia develop. In the absence of therapeutic measures, convulsive seizures become more frequent, become longer. The female falls into a coma and dies.

With diseases of the liver and kidneys

In diseases of the kidneys and liver, toxic decomposition products accumulate in the body of dogs, which are introduced into the brain by the bloodstream, causing damage to its structural elements. This is manifested by convulsive phenomena, anorexia, vomiting, fermentation processes in the intestine. Due to the rapid development of pathology, even timely treatment may not give positive results. After a short-term improvement, the animal falls into a coma and dies.

Helminthic infestations

Intoxication of the body, accompanied by convulsions, also develops with severe helminthic invasion, when toxic waste products of intestinal helminths enter the bloodstream.

Important! Puppy roundworm infection occurs during the period of intrauterine development. If you do not conduct timely treatment from worms, then parasites can cause not only growth retardation and decreased immunity, but also a rupture of the intestinal walls, leading to the death of babies.


Dogs are believed to be animals that are not sensitive to cadaveric poison. Therefore, eating carrion or previously buried foods does no harm to them. However, this statement does not apply to representatives of artificially derived breeds contained in the "greenhouse" conditions of apartments and houses.

Such pets can be poisoned by poor-quality food or dog food stored in inappropriate conditions.

Important! Of particular danger to dogs are feeds affected by Aspergillus fungi, the toxins of which affect nerve cells in the brain and cause seizures.

Poisoning can also be caused by synthetic poisons containing:

  • in household chemicals;
  • in drugs against ecto and endoparasites;
  • in fertilizers;
  • in bait for rodents and insects.

Symptoms of poisoning depend on its cause, but the most characteristic signs are:

  • apathy;
  • complete rejection of feed;
  • vomiting
  • diarrhea;
  • a sharp decrease in body temperature;
  • clonic-tonic convulsions;
  • blood in urine and feces;
  • tachycardia;
  • dyspnea.

Important! If poisoning is suspected, it is forbidden to induce vomiting in the dog during seizures. This can be fatal if stomach contents enter the lungs.

After operation

If seizures occur after surgery and are accompanied by fever, then this indicates an infectious agent enters the body. Seizures can occur after anesthesia or the use of other drugs if their dosage is not observed.

Cramps in a dream

Not only in puppies, but also in adult dogs, after overexcitation, convulsive twitching of the limbs during sleep can be noticed. If the animal does not wake up at the same time, and the cramps themselves do not turn into painful tonic muscle contractions, then you should not worry. But if the pet wakes up from fright and pain, cannot rise on its paws, whines mournfully and loses its orientation in space, then this can indicate serious disorders of the nervous system.

Dying cramps

In older dogs, involuntary muscle contractions may occur. This is due impaired nerve impulse patency and muscle weakness. Such phenomena can be observed for a long period of time, without leading to death.

However, before death, the nature of seizures changes. They become prolonged and are accompanied by a strong weakening of cardiac activity, rare respiratory movements and a decrease in body temperature.

First aid

Not knowing what to do during an attack of seizures in their pet, many owners try to open their mouth and give an anticonvulsant. It is strictly forbidden to do this, as it can lead to injuries to the jaw of the animal, getting the medicine into the respiratory tract or vomiting.

Important! During a seizure, a sharp jaw compression can occur in the dog as a result of excessive contraction of the masticatory muscles. Not having time to remove his hands, the owner will receive serious injuries.

Noticing cramps in your pet, you should:

  • remove heavy, hard and sharp objects from the animal’s reach;
  • turn off the lighting and sound sources (TV, computer, etc.);
  • spread a disposable diaper or piece of tissue in case of involuntary urination or defecation;
  • prevent saliva or vomit from entering the lungs by turning the dog on its side.

Immediately after the end of the attack, several drops of a sedative (Corvalol) should be dripped onto the tongue of the animal. This will help relieve nervous tension and delay the onset of a second seizure until the veterinarian arrives.

Important! If frequent painful cramps are caused by the growth of an inoperable malignant tumor, then it is worth consulting with a doctor about the advisability of euthanasia.

Do not try at home to independently diagnose and treat the dog. Improper therapy leads to complications or death.

Watch the video: How to Know if Your Dog is Going to Die (February 2020).