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Six Questions About Idiopathic Head Tremors

Discussion in 'Doberman Health and News Articles' started by strykerdobe, Nov 12, 2018.

  1. strykerdobe

    strykerdobe Hot Topics Subscriber

    Since Dobes are prone to Idiopathic Head Tremors. Here is some good info.
    I think some can be stopped just by redirecting with a high value treat.
    I also would try CBD Oil.

    By Laura Landstra and Jay McDonnell, DVM, MS, Diplomate ACVIM (Neurology)

    1. What are idiopathic head tremors?
    Idiopathic head tremors are a series of repetitive, horizontally (“no” gesture) or vertically-directed (“yes”), involuntary muscle contractions involving the head and neck. A typical episode lasts about three minutes (yet may seem to last much longer as you are watching it!).

    Dogs remain fully conscious and aware during the episode, and when the episode ends, your dog should be completely unaffected. The tremors are benign – meaning the dog is not caused any pain or distress, and there are no short or long-term effects.

    2. Who gets them?
    Young to middle-aged male and female dogs are most commonly affected. All dogs including mixed breed dogs have been seen with these tremors but Dobermans, Bulldogs, French Bulldogs, Boxers, and Labradors seem to be more commonly affected.

    3. What causes them?
    We don’t know, hence the term “idiopathic.” The exact cause of head tremors has yet to be determined. However, the most likely cause is dyskinesia (a movement disorder) that originates in the basal ganglia – the area of the brain involved in patterned motor activity. Another theory is that affected dogs have an abnormality involving the stretch mechanism and the proprioceptive pathway of the head – i.e., the trigeminal nerve. This theory suggests that when the dog’s attention is diverted during an episode, the head tremors temporarily stop because the neck muscles contract, thereby releasing the stretch mechanism that first provoked the tremors. In both instances, there is likely a genetic basis since it occurs most commonly in certain breeds of dogs.

    4. How are they diagnosed?
    Idiopathic head tremors are a diagnosis of exclusion, meaning that other diseases must be investigated and ruled out before idiopathic head tremors can be diagnosed. A diagnostic workup may include a bile acid test (pre- and post-prandial), ocular examination, brain MRI, and a cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) analysis. These tests will allow your veterinarian to ensure that your dog’s behavior is not caused by an ocular or progressive central nervous system problem before he/she makes a diagnosis of idiopathic head tremors. Dogs with idiopathic head tremors do not exhibit any other neurological abnormalities, and will have normal findings from both the MRI and CSF analysis.

    5. What should I do when my dog is having an “episode?”
    Don’t panic! Your dog is not affected by the tremors, but may become alarmed or stressed by your reaction. Distracting your dog is the most helpful way to end the episode. Try supporting your dog’s head, or offer your dog a treat such as peanut butter, Karo syrup, honey, or vanilla ice cream in an attempt to distract your dog out of the episode. If there is someone available, have them videotape the episode. If the episode does not spontaneously terminate in 5-10 minutes, try to distract them with food or walking outside.

    6. What about treatment?
    Currently, there is no treatment for idiopathic head tremors. Head tremors often are confused with epileptic seizures; in these cases the patient is prescribed phenobarbital. However, this drug does not improve idiopathic head tremors, and long-term administration may have deleterious effects on the liver. The most helpful “treatment” for idiopathic head tremors is to distract the patient out of the episode, as described above.

    Press play to view the video of Yukon, an Old English Bulldog that presented with episodes of “head bobbing.” He is rapidly shaking his head in a “yes” motion. It started all of a sudden and would occur for about 4 or 5 minutes at a time. He had 4 previous episodes the day this video was taken. Head bobbing is also referred to as idiopathic head tremors. The head bobbing started all of a sudden and would persist even while responding to the owner.

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  2. Tropicalbri's

    Tropicalbri's $ Premium Subscriber $ Hot Topics Subscriber $ Forum Donor $

    This is a video of Bogie after he had taken the Bravecto.
    • Wow x 2
  3. Tropicalbri's

    Tropicalbri's $ Premium Subscriber $ Hot Topics Subscriber $ Forum Donor $

    Bogie’s head tremors were not as severe as the Old English Bulldog in that video but it sure scares the crap out of you.
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  4. jazzies mum

    jazzies mum Hot Topics Subscriber

    Was it the Bravecto that caused it?
  5. Tropicalbri's

    Tropicalbri's $ Premium Subscriber $ Hot Topics Subscriber $ Forum Donor $

    We tried Simparica, that’s when it first started. It went away and I decided to use Bravecto. They developed tremorswith that. After 7mo I tried Nexguard and they both got head tremors so I said no more and made my own repellent. They haven’t had head tremors in a long time now.
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  6. jazzies mum

    jazzies mum Hot Topics Subscriber

    I am using NexGard Spectra in the monthly chew form as it prevents heartworm, controls hookworms, roundworms and whipworms, kills fleas and controls ticks, including the big baddie, the paralysis tick. My thinking has been that it is better for her to have one dose a month than many different things during the same period. Heartworm prevention and controlling the paralysis tick is the most important concern! My question is that, although she has had no side effects after four months, is it possible that head tremors might develop in time?

    And while I'm asking questions, I have been putting a small dab of neem oil on the top of her head, back of neck and between her shoulder blades as a repellent for the swarms of annoying mosquitoes that are plaguing us right now, and wonder if that is a safe option? (Poor kid can't STAND the sound of them around her head and spends all night clopping and chopping at them without a repellent! :()
  7. Tropicalbri's

    Tropicalbri's $ Premium Subscriber $ Hot Topics Subscriber $ Forum Donor $

    Not every dog develops them. Dobermans are more prone to it. As far as the flea preventions, it is a known side effect of the drug but that doesn’t mean your dobe will develop it.
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  8. Archer

    Archer Moderator Hot Topics Subscriber

    Yes, IHT and tremors related to flea/tick preventitives are two different things.

    Aoife has IHT and epilepsy and other conditions should always be ruled out before assuming that the tremors are indeed idiopathic.

    Aoife’s were misdiagnosed as epilepsy by an ER Vet and luckily I knew better and was persistent and got her into a Neurologist who did an MRI and diagnosed IHT. A simple snapping her out of them with a treat works for a second, but she goes right back into them. Sharing this because those of us who deal with them, or have dogs that are having them for the first time should know that there are varying tremors associated with IHT and to seek Veterinary care if your dog has them. Just don’t assume that the tremors your dog has are IHT they can be something else.
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  9. Tropicalbri's

    Tropicalbri's $ Premium Subscriber $ Hot Topics Subscriber $ Forum Donor $

    Bogie was right at 7mo when I noticed the head tremors. It actually occurred on a private jet to the Bahamas and I had just caught a glimpse of it.
    When we returned home it happened again and I took him to the neurologist. They ran blood work, everything but an MRI at that time. When they continued I had MRI’s done on both because Bacall had it occur as well.
    The neurologist could not rule it as IHT because he felt it was the result of the flea and tick medications. We did talk with reps from all 3 flea and tick manufacturers.
    I pulled them both off all flea and tick prevention and made my own repellent. That was about 18mo ago. It took a couple months after being off the preventions for the tremors to completely subside. I haven’t seen anymore tremors in either of them so their condition would not be classed as IHT, rather a chemical induced neuro issue. To completely rule out everything to determine its IHT, you have to have neurological testing inclusive of an MRI.
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  10. Archer

    Archer Moderator Hot Topics Subscriber

    Wow that is scary. I am glad it didn't cause anything more serious.
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