What Causes Quivering Jaw in Dogs?

I am an animal lover and I have a special place in my heart for dogs. If you are like me, then you are keenly cognizant of the fact that loving pets as hard as we do comes with its ups and downs. Because dogs have such short life spans in comparison to humans, we tend to experience loss multiple times over the course of our lives. In addition to losing an animal, the idea of watching one suffer, or at least appear to be suffering can be devastating as well. Something that appears to be somewhat common in dogs is quivering jaw — a tremor response that affects the dog along the jawline. If you have seen this or you have a dog that is currently experiencing this, you are probably wondering what is causing it and is it impacting your dog’s quality of life. Here what I can share with you about this condition. I hope that it helps.

Quivering jaw is a form of tremor, which is an involuntary, rhythmic response that results in repetitive muscle movements. These movements consistently alternate between relaxation and contraction — leading to a twitching movement along the jawline. This type of involuntary movement can happen in other areas besides the face. In some situations, the tremors will be rapid and other times slow and vibrating. This condition is actually known as tremor syndrome and it is most common in young to middle-aged dogs.

Oddly enough, this condition seems to affect white colored dogs more often than other colors. Additionally, certain dog breeds are more predisposed to contract the syndrome. Some of the breeds that are at higher risk for tremor syndrome include Springer Spaniels, Chows, Weimaraners, Dalmatians, Doberman Pinschers, Labrador Retrievers, and Samoyeds. These breeds are referred to as shaker dogs because of how common this syndrome is with them.

Types and Symptoms

While tremors that affect the jawline may appear to be more noticeable, these tremors can impact any part of the body. It is important to understand that the part of the body that is impacted does not indicate a worsening of the condition. In some cases, such as quivering jaw, the tremors are highly localized, which gives the appearance of greater intensity from a visual perspective. In other cases, the tremors are more generalized in nature, affecting the entire body.

Common Cause of Tremor Syndrome

  • Idiopathic (unknown)
  • Side-effect to medication
  • Trauma or Injury
  • Congenital – a condition present at birth
  • As a result of kidney failure
  • A disease of the nervous system
  • Hypoglycemia (lower than normal sugar levels)
  • Inflammation
  • Toxicity — either plant-based or chemical-based
  • Injury to trauma

Diagnosis

If your dog is experiencing the symptoms of tremor syndrome, it is in the best interest of the pet to visit a veterinarian to have the condition properly diagnosed. If your dog is one of the breeds that are prone to tremor syndrome, it may be nothing serious to worry about, but it is always better to be safe than sorry.

The veterinarian will be able to perform a comprehensive physical exam on the animal while reviewing the dog’s complete medical history, which will include the background history of the symptoms onset and progression. It will be important to be able to inform the doctor of any incidents that may have contributed to the onset of the condition, such as taking medications, flea and tick treatments, the recent trauma that falls in line with the time the symptoms started, etc.

It is possible that a complete lab workup will be necessary to perform a biochemistry profile. If the cause is associated with brain disease, it is likely that the lab tests will come back normal, while if the cause is metabolic in nature, it will show up in the biochemistry profile. It could be something as simple as low blood glucose levels, which can be treated.

The doctor may also order more comprehensive examinations, such as CT-Scan, MRI, and X-rays. These type of test can indicate structural issues and posterior abnormalities. Depending on the cause of the tremors, the doctor will inform you of the best course of action to alleviate the tremors or at least mitigate the impact. In most cases, the tremors can be effectively managed and the quality of life of the animal will be close to normal.

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