Welcome to English Bulldog News! The #1 forum for the English Bulldog Enthusiast!

REGISTER today to share photos, stories, advice, get help and access member only features and forums.

P.S. Registered members do not see above advertisements!

  • Head Tremors in English Bulldogs


    Maggie has a Head Tremor: http://youtu.be/KJlwBoFuJMY

    Head Tremors in English Bulldogs

    Nitschke was two years old when his head tremors started just prior to the video I have attached below. We taped a few episodes, showed them to our vet and he was sure they were head tremors, but wanted to be positive so he sent us to a neurological specialist in New Jersey for an evaluation. When we met with the specialist, he viewed the videos and examined Nitschke while talking with us. Based on our answers to his questions he told us Nitschke was experiencing 'idiopathic head tremors - meaning there is no real reason for them, no cure and the dog is in no pain or discomfort at all; we as humans are more bothered by them than the pup is.'

    The doctor's questions were as follows with our answers:


    • Does he respond to his name when called.. look at or walk over to you? Yes

    • Any foam or drool coming from mouth during episode? No

    • Any pacing or walking into walls/doors/furniture? No

    Based on the above, the specialist told us, "if you want, I can run about $2500 worth of testing, but you can easily stop the tremor by distracting the dog with a treat or clap of your hands while calling his name.'" We opted out of the test and would monitor our boy and with the next tremor, we did the treat with his name -- it worked. With Nitschke as with our other bully, Banks, the treat works best... say their name, give the treat and the tremor stops.


    Over a six month period of time, we logged every time the tremors took place and what we came to determine with Nitschke, they were consistent in happening when his allergies were at their worst, spring and fall. As you'll see and hear in the video, his face is very red/pink and we are discussing him vomiting and having very soft stool, all of which were symptoms of his allergies and added stress to his immune system as well as made him tired and just overall stressed. This does not mean that is the case with all bulldogs, as stated in the below article, the cause is still not fully understood so it could be a different trigger for each dog. Some members here on EBN have noticed the tremors happen when over-stimulated, over-tired or stressed. Try to keep a journal of what is taking place when the tremor happens and you will eventually determine what may be the trigger/cause for your bulldog. We found for Banks it is stress and uncertainty in what is going on around her. She has had several tremors since moving into our new home, but prior to the move it was rare that she would have them at all.

    Keep in mind, it is important to make sure that this isn't some other, more serious condition. It's definitely worth a good neurological examination by your veterinarian. A dog with idiopathic head tremors should be normal on exam unless they're having an episode at that moment. Your vet may also run bloodwork to make sure there isn't a problem with calcium, glucose, or other lab values although, if given information of a the long history of tremors the lab tests may be less likely necessary.

    Here is an article from the Metropolitan Veterinary Hospital Emergency Service Newsletter


    Idiopathic Head Tremors of English Bulldogs By Bradley Stephens, DVM

    Lucy, a two-year-old female spayed English bulldog, presented to the Metropolitan Veterinary Hospital Emergency Service with seizures, which the owner described as rapid head tremors. The owner stated that the episodes never involved any pre-ictal or post-ictal phase, loss of consciousness, urination, defecation or other autonomic signs typically seen with grand mal seizures. Lucy would walk around and respond to her name while she was in the middle of the episodes. The patient was referred to Northeast Ohio Internal Medicine Associates for further workup.

    A mysterious affliction:
    The initial physical examination was unremarkable, with the exception of a right grade II medial patellar luxation. The complete blood count and serum chemistry panel were within normal limits. A CT scan of Lucy’s head, including bone and soft tissue structures of the forebrain and cerebellum, was unremarkable. A phone consult with Dr. Marc Kent, a neurologist at the University of Georgia Veterinary Teaching Hospital, was sought. He indicated that these clinical signs were consistent with a condition tentatively called “Idiopathic Head Tremors of English Bulldogs,” or IHT. The condition consists of rapid up-and-down or side-to-side movements of the head only. They start and stop spontaneously and are not related to any identifiable pathology or seizure condition. They typically occur while the animal is resting and may occur during sleep. Although this condition is most commonly seen in English Bulldogs, a similar condition has been described in Boxers and Dobermans.

    Possible causes:
    Many explanations have been formulated for the cause of the tremors, such as a seizure focus with no forebrain involvement or a defect in the elements of the muscle fibers. The current theory is that the tremors are a result of dysfunction of the proprioceptive fibers in the neck. Abnormal sensory input, causing alternating contraction and relaxation of muscle groups, may be responsible. This explanation, while almost impossible to prove, would explain why those affected stop shaking if something is done to focus their attention on an object such as a toy or treat. With this condition there are no abnormalities on tests such as CBC, chemistries, infectious disease titers, CSF taps or on imaging studies such as radiographs, CT or MRI. Therefore, IHT is confirmed based on clinical condition and through exclusion of other disorders. Treatment for this disorder with anti-seizure drugs such as phenobarbital, potassium bromide, Gabapentin or Keppra has not been successful and is not recommended. Many neurologists recommend offering the animal something to “focus” its head position, such as a treat or toy, which supports the idea that this is actually a movement disorder and not seizure-related.

    No cause for concern:
    Animals with IHT do not progress to have actual seizures and do not have issues with quality of life. The tremors are innocuous to the patients. Symptoms other than head tremors may indicate concomitant disease, requiring further investigation. Patients with IHT have only head tremors. The tremors may persist for the duration of the animal’s life, but often stop completely. IHT should be strongly considered in any English bulldog, Boxer or Doberman that is experiencing compatible clinical signs of intermittent head tremors.
    Video samples:


    Nitschke -- http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ywxC7TWbzvo


    Vegas -- http://youtu.be/JemF3J3Owsc



    Experiences posted by EBN Members:

    "Last Sept 2009 (Samson would have been 3.5 yrs old) my boyfriend was gone hunting so it was just Samson and I in our bed. At like 5am in the morning I started feeling the bed shake and at first I thought it was an earthquake, then I saw Sams head bobbing. He sat up and he was still doing it, I have to tell you I can't remember the last time I was so scared. I started freaking out, I was started crying hysterically because I had no idea what was happening. I figured it was very serious. So I called my vet, I was ready to get in the car and leave that minute. My vet is a 24 hour facility so I was able to talk to a doctor right then. He asked me a bunch of questions and told me it was probably these head tremors. He was always alert, could walk, acted pretty normal besides the head bob. I made an appointment for a check up, he had a full exam. Physical, parasite testing, blood work, everything. He was perfectly healthy. My vet told me only to worry if anything changes about the episodes like he collapses, if his whole body starts shaking. He has had a couple since, maybe once every few months and it's always been the same. I haven't noticed it being a blood sugar thing myself, I have noticed that if I give Samson something to focus on it will stop, whether its playing or eating, just something to focus his attention elsewhere. Then if its in bed where getting up to feed him or play with him isn't convenient I just let it run its course. It is a truly terrifying experience if it happens and you aren't expecting it, have never seen it or heard of it before. For Samson it has always been just his head, no other part of his body has ever moved/switched, he is always alert, can walk, give kisses, give the paw, eat."


    "Mandy had one head tremor when she woke up from anesthesia, that was the only time I have witnessed one. I think it was due to stress. An ice cube snapped her right out of it."
    Comments 68 Comments
    1. sweetpeasmom2008's Avatar
      sweetpeasmom2008 -
      Like it!
    1. JeannieCO's Avatar
      JeannieCO -
      Thanks Christine for a much needed informative article about head tremors. While I hope that my guys never experience this, I now know from reading yours and others experience what head tremors are should mine ever have one.
    1. KMARINO's Avatar
      KMARINO -
      Christine, this was a wonderful article. Very informative. Seeing that I just went through the head tremors with Vegas last week and knowing what it was, it still is a very scary ordeal for me or any parent!! The first time it happened Vegas was around 2 and I totally flipped out and it was over a favorite toy that my husband was playing keep-a-way with him. Last week we were at the vet, so he was already a little nervous, a dog kept barking at him and it set him off again. The vet was able to watch him and knew it was just over-stimulation. Trust me, it scares the crap out of us way more than it effects our babies. Thank You for the article.
    1. Tooleysmom's Avatar
      Tooleysmom -
      Thank you so much for all your hard work putting this article together and for all of the images and research. I learned a lot and I know this will be a valuable addition to EBN. I have read about head tremors but seeing the videos and reading the reports I feel I am better prepared to understand the discussions.
    1. GraceMom's Avatar
      GraceMom -
      Wow, I had no idea about these, thanks for the info. I wish your babies the best!!
    1. bullmama's Avatar
      bullmama -
      When Mandy woke up from anesthisia and had hers I knew exactly what it was, thank you EBN. I had no treats but luckily an ice cube and that was the only time I saw one in person. Needless to say, even if you know what it is, it is still shocking to see your bulldog have one. It makes your heart bounce right out of your chest, even if you know it is harmless and does not hurt them. No matter what, the lingering question will still remain, "Why?"

      Like Mandy and many others it is due to stress. I have heard many theories, but for those who only experience it rarely I think stress is a key factor. So many have them during sleep though, so that is a different cause and effect.

      Thank you Christine for writing this wonderful and informative article. Thank you Christine, Karen and Cheryl for sharing Vegas, Maggie and Nitschke with us, we miss Maggie and Nitschke very much. xx
    1. ABEBD's Avatar
      ABEBD -
      Hello,

      There are two types of head shakes.

      I have a male that has the mild one. Not sure of the exact name, but this is the one that he will still be alert, will respond to his name or the door opening or the sound of the ice cube tray?

      Over the years what we have noticed is that if he does NOT drink enough water, he will get this shake. During the warmer (Az - HOT!) months, I make sure that he also has a water bowl in the house and I watch to make sure he drinks. All of the other dogs drink enough but he is such a potato that he wont even hardly go outside to go to the bathroom or drink.

      What we have found is that when he gets these shakes, if we give him 2 frozen otter pops, he snaps out of it quickly. He likes the grape flavored the best.
      It is like low blood sugar and the cold and sweet calms him down. I cut the top off and break off a small piece at a time. He crunches and eats it. By the middle of the second otter pop he has calmed down and the shake has ended.

      It is amazing how fast this works. When we first noticed this problem when he was younger, we would just wait to see. We would hold his head to try to control and calm him down. It would last for 7-10 minutes. Once we found out about using the otter pops, we keep a bag frozen at all times. Making sure he drinks enough water he will go for 6-8 months without getting one.

      Just an opinion.
      Like others, everyone has one.

      Good Day~
    1. KT221's Avatar
      KT221 -
      This was very helpful. Thank you for posting. Miss Muffin was just diagnosed with this yesterday. I'm so incredibly relieved...it was such a scary experience and I was so very worried!
    1. Biogirl71's Avatar
      Biogirl71 -
      Very good info - thanks. Do you know if there is foaming, does that make a difference?
    1. 2BullyMama's Avatar
      2BullyMama -
      Quote Originally Posted by Biogirl71 View Post
      Very good info - thanks. Do you know if there is foaming, does that make a difference?

      Never noticed any foaming nor did I see it in any of the articles I read during research.
      @Libra926
    1. Libra926's Avatar
      Libra926 -
      @Biogirl71

      If there is foaming....it probably is more severe than a head tremor. As you know, Vegas has idiopathic epilepsy. When he has petit mal seizures, there is no foaming. When he has a grand mal seizure....there is foaming.

      How do you tell the difference between a grand mal and petit mal seizure? I raised that same question to the dr and she said...."You know him best. No matter how much research you do, people will tell you different things." So we base the seizures on foam. If it's there or not will classify it for us. Also, during a grand mal, Vegas falls over onto his side and during a petit mal, he remains conscious.

      I know I kinda wandered from your original question on head tremors. Hope this helps with your question.
    1. Ftse 100's Avatar
      Ftse 100 -
      Yhank yo to seu fr sharing this, it does seem very scary to see them have these tremors and it is nice to know if it happens what to do.
    1. Biogirl71's Avatar
      Biogirl71 -
      @Libra926 - thank you, that was very helpful. Frank has had periodic episodes of small head tremors but he will always respond instantly to a treat like yogurt, frozen pop, or peanut butter. I know this is very common and has never worried me. However, yesterday he had a short episode where he was shaking his head, foaming, and wasn't very responsive to getting a treat. It only lasted about two minutes, then he was responding to us and was able to lick a frozen pop. He never fell down or anything but seemed a little disoriented very briefly after but nothing like walking into walls. We just watched him very carefully the rest of the day and he has been completely normal since. I don't know what else to do other than just be hypervigilant for any more episodes like that. It really scared me but I wasn't sure if I should be extremely worried about it or if it was just a longer episode of head shaking.
    1. Libra926's Avatar
      Libra926 -
      Vegas just had a big one this morning at 1am. He had already been in bed and asleep for several hours, yet all of a sudden he was up and had this "urgency" about his movements. He wouldn't sit still..he was moving all around the bed in an almost "frantic" fashion. I put him on the floor for more wandering room and he fell over in the bathroom and started seizing.

      It lasted about a minute and 1/2. Once done, he was back up. I took him downstairs and filled a treat ball with green beans and he followed/chased that for awhile. My husband came downstairs and relieved me....not sure what time they came back to bed.

      Again....the manner in which he chased the ball was almost "frantic".

      Right now he is sleeping soundly.
    1. Biogirl71's Avatar
      Biogirl71 -
      Poor boy. Thanks for updating with specific information on his behavior. It is very helpful to know some specific behaviors associated with the more severe condition.

      I hope that he is doing better.
    1. jennifer1's Avatar
      jennifer1 -
      My 2 year old female named Happy just had her first head shaking episode and it was more like a shivering not anything close to the seizures we experienced with our other Bulldog Chopper - who passed 2 years ago. He had Gram Mal siezures and it was tough to go through for Chopper and us!! The video was really helpful since I was not sure what was going because - she was alert and responsive but her head was vibrating, Thank you for posting the video's its really helped me identify the issue mainly because the "vibrating came out of nowhere and it was the first time and I was very scared.
    1. Casper's Avatar
      Casper -
      Quote Originally Posted by jennifer1 View Post
      My 2 year old female named Happy just had her first head shaking episode and it was more like a shivering not anything close to the seizures we experienced with our other Bulldog Chopper - who passed 2 years ago. He had Gram Mal siezures and it was tough to go through for Chopper and us!! The video was really helpful since I was not sure what was going because - she was alert and responsive but her head was vibrating, Thank you for posting the video's its really helped me identify the issue mainly because the "vibrating came out of nowhere and it was the first time and I was very scared.
      Hey Jennifer and Welcome to EBN, The information here is just awesome.... Happy will surely reap the benefits of all the great articles and information here.... Hope to see you around in other threads... Please make yourself at home..... This place is like Bully Heaven.....
    1. JennieS's Avatar
      JennieS -
      I was doing a search on head tremors and found this thread. Ruthie gets head tremors but she is also epileptic and on phenobarbital. For the past few nights she has had them, I try everything to get rid of them but once I get them stopped, we got back to bed and they start back up. Usually it takes about 3-4 times of giving her something hard to chew on for her to actually stop. Hers only come on at nighttime and I'm having such a hard time finding what the triggers are that starts them. We've been dealing with them since we got her about 3 years ago and the epilepsy is new. She will have the tremors for about a week then they go away for a few months and then come back, it's a cycle. I'm very stumped on them
    1. 2BullyMama's Avatar
      2BullyMama -
      Quote Originally Posted by JennieS View Post
      I was doing a search on head tremors and found this thread. Ruthie gets head tremors but she is also epileptic and on phenobarbital. For the past few nights she has had them, I try everything to get rid of them but once I get them stopped, we got back to bed and they start back up. Usually it takes about 3-4 times of giving her something hard to chew on for her to actually stop. Hers only come on at nighttime and I'm having such a hard time finding what the triggers are that starts them. We've been dealing with them since we got her about 3 years ago and the epilepsy is new. She will have the tremors for about a week then they go away for a few months and then come back, it's a cycle. I'm very stumped on them
      @Libra926 and @ChanelnBrutus can be of more assistance.... their babies have epilepsy.
    1. ChanelnBrutus's Avatar
      ChanelnBrutus -
      Quote Originally Posted by JennieS View Post
      I was doing a search on head tremors and found this thread. Ruthie gets head tremors but she is also epileptic and on phenobarbital. For the past few nights she has had them, I try everything to get rid of them but once I get them stopped, we got back to bed and they start back up. Usually it takes about 3-4 times of giving her something hard to chew on for her to actually stop. Hers only come on at nighttime and I'm having such a hard time finding what the triggers are that starts them. We've been dealing with them since we got her about 3 years ago and the epilepsy is new. She will have the tremors for about a week then they go away for a few months and then come back, it's a cycle. I'm very stumped on them
      Hi there! Sorry you and Ruthie are going through this. @Libra926 has a ton of advice as her Vegas was diagnosed with epilepsy! Brutus had a couple
      Seizures after he had an invasive surgery! He does get tremors and fly biting at times! We don't know the triggers but we distract him any way we
      Can! We had him on meds but I didn't like the side effects and the neurologist said she didn't want to continue with such strong drugs bc he wasn't having seZuires anymore! Cheryl will be by soon and she can help you! Hope it all works out!


      Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk