Doberman as a breed, are quite prone to many health concerns; Von Willebrand Disease, Dilated Cardiomyopathy, Hypothyroidism, Wobbler Syndrome, Bone Cancer, Bloat and Hip Dysplasia to name a few. Many, however, don’t know that idiopathic head tremors can also be added to that list.
Kyuss suffers from these tremors, and I flipped out thinking it was a seizure the first time he had an episode. He was about 9 or 10 months old at the time, and being my first dog, outside family pets, I was considerably worried.
He appeared normal throughout the entire thing, except for having a shaking head of course. He was alert and happy despite my obvious anxiety. I shoved him into the car and off to the vet we went. Naturally, by the time we got there the tremors had stopped. My vet informed me that it could be a seizure and to monitor him closely to see if it happens again.
So home we went, and I was online as soon as I set foot in the door, searching the interwebs like a mad woman. It didn’t take long for me to discover a video, with a Doberman nonetheless, exhibiting the same head bobbing.
So, what are they? Well, the bobbing/shaking can be up and down, side to side or something in between. They’re localized to the head and neck and the body is not affected. The dog will look alert, be able to move and walk, and respond normally. It’s not
sure known what triggers them, but generally, they occur when the dog is in a sleepy state, such as when first rousing or settling down.
Diagnostic testing such as EEG’s, CT/MRI’s and spinal fluid on dogs with the condition will all come back normal. It’s also unknown if it’s genetic in nature. The tremors may last anywhere from a few minutes to a half hour or more.
Whenever Kyuss has an episode, which is about twice or three times yearly, I find a dollop of peanut butter on a spoon works wonders to ‘snap him out of it.’ Many speculate that jaw movement stops the tremors. Others believe it’s the brain focusing which causes them to cease. I’m not sure which it is, but the peanut butter is what I swear by.
If your dog is exhibiting similar symptoms you should always seek the advice of a vet first. Seizures can look very similar, but are much more serious.
Kyuss’ Head Tremors
This video was taken today, April 20th 2012. Sorry for such a short video, the memory card in my camera was full.
In total the tremor lasted about 2 – 2.5 minutes. By the time Kyuss had finished the peanut butter on the spoon the tremor had subsided.