Dog Twitching: All You Need To Know About Involuntary Muscle Trembling

Gurpuneet Kaur
Feb 29, 2024 By Gurpuneet Kaur
Originally Published on Nov 18, 2021
Fact-checked by Shruti Thapa
A happy Pitador dog posing on porch for the camera.
Age: 3-18
Read time: 5.8 Min

Human pets are often very close to their heart, and they usually want what's best for them!

While a sweet gesture of our pet wins our hearts, an unusual movement or behavior might stress you out, too. Read on to learn about signs and symptoms to determine if your pet needs to see a veterinarian or not.

It is getting cold outside! This extremely cold weather leaves you shivering or trembling, too. But is it a cause of concern? No, shivering may be a sign or symptom of a seizure, but every time you shiver may not mean you are suffering a seizure. Similarly, a dog twitches or tremors due to several generalized reasons and causes, but every time you spot your puppy twitching, you may not need to visit a veterinarian.

Reasons for trembling or twitching or tremors in a dog may vary from excitement and joy to pain, injury, or serious health disorders. Thus, a dog does not require treatment every time it twitches. You may enter your home and find your puppy tremoring or twitching suddenly. While you might find it weird, it may be acting like that because it is overwhelmed to welcome you home. Likewise, if a dog is hurt, it may tremor or twitch in pain, injury, or anxiety. Are you wondering how you will be able to tell the difference? Why your dog is twitching? Is it a seizure or just a sign of happiness and excitement? Read the article to help figure out several localized reasons and causes, so that you will know when to seek the help of a veterinarian!

If you enjoy this article, why not also read about dog pacing and dog running away here on Kidadl?

Why do dogs twitch in sleep?

Do you find yourself moving while you sleep? You might not realize it, but you may do it often. Since you are unconscious while you sleep, you probably won't be able to evaluate your own habits. However, you can notice body movements or tremors in others while they sleep. Also, people shiver during their sleep. It is usually because they are dreaming or in a deep sleep. Although the involuntary body movement during sleep might scare you and make you wonder if the person is having a seizure, those movements could likely be very normal. Likewise, your pet might twitch or tremor while it sleeps. There are several speculations and explanations about a dog twitching, some of them can include:

Dreaming: Although you can't ask your dog whether it dreams or not, you can assume your dog to be communicating when it tremors during sleep. It might also bark, but it is quite normal. Thus, do not distress your dog by waking it up while it is dreaming or having night terrors.

Development: Newborns twitch more often than older dogs, as it helps in their growth development and strengthens their brain and muscles. Hence, age may affect the twitching activity in a dog. Also, while generalized tremor syndrome can occur in any breed of dog, irrespective of size, age, or color, the symptoms are usually known to commence within the age of nine months and two years.

Anxiety and neurological disorders: Your dog may be prone to experience separation anxiety. If it anticipates being away from its owner or feels threatened about its safety, dogs usually twitch to portray signs of anxiety or nervousness. Call up a veterinary doctor to manage your dog's condition. Likewise, a dog also tremors due to a damaged central nervous system or peripheral nervous system. Since trauma, injury, or genetic predisposition lead to neurological disorders, this calls for a veterinarian too and speedy treatment.

 Medical health conditions such as low blood sugar, epilepsy, or kidney diseases: If you suspect your pet is suffering from any health-related issues like kidney failure, abnormal blood sugar levels, or epilepsy, rapid tremors may be one of the symptoms or signs that your pet needs to be seen for diagnosis and treatment. Look for symptoms and call a veterinarian to treat your dog with appropriate and speedy treatment since a delay in treatment or ignorance of symptoms may lead to severe consequences.

Muscle stiffness: Twitching may occur due to spasticity, such as when your dog's muscles, usually legs and neck, become stiff.

Is it normal for dogs to twitch?

You might find dogs twitching weird but usually, it is normal unless the behavior is not associated with health-related issues. An animal, although it has a brain, it is not designed to speak in order to convey messages to humans. Thus, an animal may convey its feeling by sign language or vocalizing. Since dogs bark, ducks quack, and you talk, either of the species cannot interpret what other is conveying. But you, as a human being, can put in efforts to interpret the message being conveyed by your pet. In the same way dogs wag their tails, they also twitch or tremor. Although twitching can be a sign or symptom of health-related diseases, it does not always require medical attention.

To precisely answer what you are looking for, yes, it is normal for dogs to twitch once in a while. However, it can be serious if the frequency increases or if your dog is basically found twitching all the time.

Close up of Beagle dog

What to do when your dog is twitching?

Be a patient observer and notice and study your pet's actions and habits! If dogs twitch more than a few times, they may be either injured or dehydrated, or in pain. If the former, try gently massaging or stretching your dog's muscle. If that doesn't ease your pet, take it to the vet for help and supervision. If it is injured, clean and dress the wound appropriately. If your dog is dehydrated, provide it with sufficient water and air, as well as proper care. If your dog is still discomforted, take your dog to the vet to run a full physical examination to diagnose the cause.

Neither worry too much, nor ignore your dog's health. While a dog's twitching head or paddling legs during sleep is a good indication of active dreaming, frequent tremors may be concerning. After all, prevention is better than a cure; thus, ensure your dog is hydrated and is being fed a well-balanced diet.

How to know if your dog is twitching or having seizures?

While a dog dreams while it sleeps and is found paddling or tremoring or making jerky movements, dogs pant and tremble when having seizures. Also, most dogs wake up when called while dreaming, whereas many dogs may lose consciousness when having a seizure and may fail to respond when called.

Do not panic in either situation! If you feel your dog needs a vet, call your vet for an examination.

Here at Kidadl, we have carefully created lots of interesting family-friendly facts for everyone to enjoy! If you liked our suggestions for dog twitching, then why not take a look at dog biting paws, or Siberian husky facts?

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Written by Gurpuneet Kaur

Bachelor of Arts specializing in Economics

Gurpuneet Kaur picture

Gurpuneet KaurBachelor of Arts specializing in Economics

As a skilled content writer, Gurpuneet has written and managed engaging content for multiple websites and companies. Driven by a passion for helping young people achieve their full potential, she brings a unique perspective to her work. She is currently pursuing a degree in Economics from Sri Guru Gobind Singh College Of Commerce. With extensive experience as a tutor, Gurpuneet has made a significant impact by providing guidance and academic support to students. Her dedication extends beyond tutoring as she has volunteered with Action India, where she offered medical assistance and educational aid to underprivileged communities. Additionally, Gurpuneet has contributed to the creation of student study guides for various educational agencies.

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