A bulldog walking outside

Tremors and seizures

Team Walmart Pets

July 2, 2021


min read

When it comes to our pets, pet parents are always doing everything they can to make sure they live happy, healthy and fulfilling lives. So when our best friends start shaking unexpectedly and all of a sudden, being scared or worried is a totally understandable reaction. In this article, we’re going to break down the differences between a twitch, a tremor and a seizure—from the bad news to the benign.

Tremors in cats and dogs

Tremors not associated with the elements or a scary surrounding environment may be the result of metabolic disease, exposure to toxins or seizures from your pet’s brain. Tremors can range from mild head shaking to widespread shakes that affect the entire body. Severe cases will interfere with a pet’s ability to walk or stand.

There are many different types of tremors and unfortunately, some dog breeds are predisposed to shakes and quakes. Bulldogs and other large breed dogs can have head tremors; old dogs can have hind limb tremors, and small dogs are prone to generalized tremors. 

Tremors are nothing to shake a stick at, but they are less worrisome than seizures. If no underlying cause is found, and your pet’s day-to-day activities aren’t affected, your vet may recommend just shaking them off. In the case of “Little White Shaker Syndrome,” which can affect small dogs, oral steroids can quickly help.

Tremors in sleeping cats and dogs

Sometimes you might notice your buddy sleeping and having a tremor. Before you pick up the phone and call the vet, be aware that these “tremors” are oftentimes just the result of the dogs or cats dreams. Maybe they’re chasing squirrels in an endless park, or dreaming about a big ball of yarn to swat. Regardless of what our pets dream about, just be aware that your pet gently shaking or twitching while they sleep is perfectly normal behavior.

Seizures and idiopathic seizures in cats and dogs

Seizures, on the other hand, are a different story. Seizures are a result of an abnormal burst of activity from your pet’s brain to their muscles. Focal seizures in cats only impact a portion of their brain, and rarely result in a loss of consciousness. Idiopathic seizures is an inherited disorder and is also the most common of all the seizure types. Generalized (also known as grand mal) seizures affect the entire body. Pets lose consciousness and have stiffness of the muscles. They may paddle their legs as if swimming and may lose control of their bladder and bowels. 

Witnessing a seizure can be scary and might even lead you to experience your own shakes and quakes! Try to remain calm and remember that your pet is not in pain, and that they might need you to be there for them. Stay by your pet’s side, but do not try to comfort them, as this may lead to unintended bites. 

Do your best to check the clock so you can time the seizure. Though it may feel like an eternity, most seizures are short. Seizures lasting more than four or five minutes warrant an emergency trip to your vet. 

Once your pet recovers, have plenty of food and fresh water available and then call your vet so that your pet can be examined. You and your vet can work together to formulate a plan that works best for your pet and your family.

And to keep your best friend safe, protected and living their best life all-year-long, enroll them with Walmart Pet Insurance

Pet Health

Photo by Rodolfo Sanches Carvalho on Unsplash