Differential Diagnosis for Tremors in Dogs

Mark Troxel, DVM, DACVIM (Neurology), Massachusetts Veterinary Referral Hospital, Woburn, Massachusetts

ArticleLast Updated January 20201 min readPeer Reviewed
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Following are differential diagnoses* for dogs presented with tremors (ie, repetitive myoclonus).

  • Primary neurologic disease

    • Steroid-responsive tremor syndrome (ie, little white shaker syndrome)

    • Cerebellar disorders

      • Congenital action-related tremors (eg, hypomyelination/dysmyelination)

      • Cerebellitis (infectious, immune-mediated)

      • Neoplasia

    • Idiopathic episodic tremors (eg, idiopathic head tremors, benign postural tremors [geriatric dogs])

  • Toxin exposure

    • Tremorgenic mycotoxins (penitrem A and roquefortine)

    • Metronidazole intoxication (more commonly causes central vestibular dysfunction rather than tremors)

    • Other less common toxins

      • Amphetamines/pseudoephedrine

      • Bromethalin

      • Carbamates

      • Cocaine

      • Ethylene glycol

      • Heavy metals (eg, lead, aluminum)

      • Ivermectin

      • Macadamia nuts

      • Marijuana

      • Metaldehyde

      • Methylxanthines (eg, caffeine, theobromine, theophylline)

      • Organophosphates

      • Paintballs

      • Strychnine

  • Endocrine/metabolic disease

    • Hepatic encephalopathy

    • Hypocalcemia/eclampsia

    • Hypoglycemia

  • Infectious disease

    • Canine distemper virus

    • Rabies

  • Iatrogenic disease

    • Blood transfusion reactions

*These differential diagnoses are listed in no particular order, as there is no published literature to accurately describe frequency/incidence to the author’s knowledge.

Editor’s note: This article was originally published in December 2019 as “Tremors.”