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Trembling head - distemper?

Species: Dog
Breed: Mixed German Shepher
Age: Less than 3 mon
Hi there

This is the issue with my little puppy.

I picked him up alone from the street june 12 (a week and a half ago). The poor guy was full of fleas (he is at the most two months old).

We gave him a bath for fleas but still was full of them, so I went and bought a spot on treatment, and looked like finally we got ride of the (that was around 11 pm).

Next morning I took him to the vet, he gave him a vaccine, an antibiotic and a shot for the parasites.

Since then, he's been trembling 24/7 pretty much, his little head, his right side keeps trembling non stop (no seizures), he keeps eating really well but you can clearly see he is in pain.

Although the trembling looks like is not getting worse (or any better for that matter) now he is limping in his front right leg and it makes really sad to see him like a that.

Des he haves any hopes? The main reason for his pain is the constant trembling, I don't know if it was caused by the spot on treatment of the vaccines but it hasn't gotten any better.

Can we do something to stop it? What choices do we have?

Online vet, Dr. Marie

Dr. Marie replied:

Oh, the poor little guy. He needs to go back to the vet right away for an assessment. There are several possibilities as to what could be going on and some of them are very serious.

An overdose of flea treatment could possibly cause trembling but it really is not common in dogs. (In cats, yes.) You would have to apply an extremely high dose to see side effects.

The trembling in the head makes me think that this actually is some type of a seizure. If this is the case he will need some medication prescribed by the vet to help stop the seizures. But, seizures in a dog this young are not a good sign. They could be a sign of distemper which is very serious and fatal. There are some other but less likely causes of head tremors in a puppy such as a parasite called neospora. This would be very unlikely though.

My biggest concern for this pup is the possibility of distemper. The limping could be explained by distemper as well.

I really can't stress enough how important it is to get this little guy back to the vets. I would love for you to report back when you get a diagnosis.

Dr. Marie.

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Disclaimer: Although Dr. Marie is a qualified veterinarian, the information found on this site is not meant to replace the advice of your own veterinarian. and Dr. Marie do not accept any responsibility for any loss, damage, injury, death, or disease which may arise from reliance on information contained on this site. Do not use information found on this site for diagnosing or treating your pet. Anything you read here is for information only.

Customer reply:

Hi Dr. Marie, thanks for your reply.

I've been taking him to the vet every second day, i took him to the vet this morning.

The vet even made a test to see if he has distemper and it came back negative, the nose looks good as well (he says its one of the first signs of distemper).

So if he doesn't have distemper, and is not flea treatment related, we dont have any clue whats causing him this disconfort.

The only other option i see is the vaccine, it was the type thats is knows as "quintuple vaccine" meaning it has 5 "benefits" he cried quite a bit after the Doc apply it.

The trembling in his body is constant, the right side keeps contracting and thats what is causing him the pain now. The movement in the head is back and forth, but doesnt seem to bother him as much as his right side (and front leg).

We are just giving him some light anxiety pills (for the stressed dog) but it doest seems to make much of a change.

Is valium an option? Is there a medication to ease off the trembling?

Customer reply:

Please let me know your best thoughts about this, if i have to pay some more money i'll gladly will.


Online vet, Dr. Marie

Dr. Marie replied:

I can't say that I have ever seen a vaccine have a side effect that is anything close to this. Do you know if your veterinarian has reported this to the manufacturer of the vaccine? They will be able to tell you if it is at all possible if it is a side effect. Still, I am at a loss to say how this could be possible.

Has any bloodwork been done? You can see tremors in puppies with low blood sugar, but this would be very uncommon.

There is a condition called idiopathic head bobbing where a dog has head tremors and there is no reason for it. You could ask your vet if this is a possiblity. I have not seen this before, but I found a couple of youtube videos that demonstrate the condition:

If this is what it is, it appears that some dogs recover on their own but others have it for life. Seizure medication doesn't seem to help.

I wish I could offer more. If your vet is not sure what is happening perhaps you could ask for a referral to a veterinary neurologist?

Customer reply:

Hi Dr. Marie, i aprecciate you taking the time to answer back.

This is really turning into a Dr. House epidose, i really would like your help and you can be confidente i won't do anything regarding any advice you may give me before taking him to the vet.

I want to explain what happened yesterday.

Since the poor puppy right side keeps trembling for at least 20 hours a day non stop, the doc recommend Anxitane M&L to try to relax him a bit, we ave giving 1 tablet a day, half at 9 am and half at 9 pm.

Yesterday the poor guy was crying a lot from 9 am until like 4 pm, sleeping at times and the rest just crying and crying, pretty much lying in the same spot, if he walked was limping from his front right leg.

At 7 pm, for some reason he was happy, RUNNING barking out of happiness, like if nothing was ever wrong with him, that lasted like 3 hours, then we went to sleep and by midnight he was back crying again.

What is this about, how can he be happy and running, feeling 100% for 3 hours (trembling just a little bit) then the rest he's trembling a lot more, limping and crying?

I really have no idea whats going on, but you can be sure this is exactly what is happening, just as a im describing in here.

Please take a look and help me out, if i need to pay another 8 or 15 bucks please just send me the link.

Thanks Doc!

Online vet, Dr. Marie

Dr. Marie replied:

So sorry for the delay in my response. I wish I had an answer for you. If this were my case I would probably be recommending that you see a veterinary neurologist. You could perhaps ask your vet if there is one available in your area.

If you do get an answer as to what is going on please do let me know.

Dr. Marie

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Dr. MarieDr. Marie is a veterinarian who practices in a busy animal hospital in Ottawa, Ontario. She created Ask A Vet Question as a resource for good, accurate veterinary advice online. Dr. Marie treats dogs, cats, hamsters, guinea pigs, and rats. She has been a vet since 1999.

Is an online vet visit just as good as a trip to your veterinarian? No! But, many times, asking an online veterinarian a question can help save you money. While Dr. Marie can't officially diagnose your pet or prescribe medications, she can often advise you on whether a vet visit is necessary. You can also ask Dr. Marie for a second opinion on your pet's condition.