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Why Does My Dog Have Leg Spasms?

There’s no getting away from it. As dog parents, like any other parent, when we notice something strange in our dogs, the immediate instinct is to panic.

When that anomaly is a leg spasm, and it happens more than once, that concern is not only very real, but justifiably scary. Here’s what causes leg spasms, what you can do, and when you should worry.

Are Muscle Spasms Dangerous?

Spasms are always scary for dog parents, but the good news is that they’re not always serious for your dog. They may simply be the result of strenuous exercise, or even mild dehydration. In fact, if they are isolated events after a long walk or a run in the dog park, there’s probably not much for you to worry about.

What Other Causes of Muscle Spasms in Dogs Are There?

While the vast majority of leg spasms in dogs are nothing to worry about, they can be a sign of an underlying problem. If they’re happening frequently, or when your dog has not been exercising, they may be caused by one of the following:

  1. Muscle injuries or strains
  2. Neurological conditions
  3. Allergies
  4. Reactions to medication
  5. Dehydration

What Are the Symptoms of Muscle Spasms?

The most obvious symptom of leg muscle spasms in dogs are the spasms themselves, which can be sharp jerking motions or slight twitches, or anything in between. There are other symptoms, however, that might not be as obvious:

  • If spasms are frequent, they can lead to physical pain
  • If pain persists, it can result in lameness or limping
  • Dogs with persistent leg spasms may become depressed

Again, these additional symptoms are more common in dogs who have more frequent leg spasms, and are probably not a concert in most cases.

How Will Your Veterinarian Diagnose the Cause of Leg Spasms?

If your dog has experienced spasms more than once, or if they are a regular occurrence, you probably want to visit the veterinarian, just in case. Here’s what’s likely to happen during the visit:

  1. Your veterinarian will ask you questions about your dog’s activity levels
  2. He or she will ask when the spasms occur, and if they seem to be triggered by activity
  3. They will ask about any medication your dog may be on, and any medication changes
  4. They might ask about changes in diet that may have triggered an allergic reaction
  5. They’ll ask about fluid intake
  6. Finally, they’ll ask about recent strains, sprains, or injuries

If there’s no easily discernable cause of the spasms, after taking this history, your veterinarian may require additional tests to rule out more serious possibilities, like neurological conditions.

Treating Leg Muscle Spasms in Dogs

If there are no serious causes for the leg spasms your dog has been experiencing, then there are some simple steps you can take to prevent them from happening – and prevention is definitely better than cure!

  1. Make sure that your dog stays well hydrated at all times.
  2. Dial back the exercise a little bit.
  3. Ask your veterinarian about dog safe muscle relaxants.
  4. Also ask about nutritional changes that might help. Sometimes, something as simple as a slight trace element deficiency can cause these issues in humans and in dogs.
  5. Explore massage as a possible treatment.
  6. In very extreme cases, surgery can help to cure your dog of cramping and spasms, by removing offending nerve.

In most cases, leg spasms in dogs is nothing life threatening or serious, however, they’re also not fun for your dog. If you can find ways to avoid them and provide relief when they do happen, you’ll be doing your furry buddy a great service.

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