In human beings, involuntary twitching often is a symptom of a medical issue -- think seizure disorders, for example. In dogs, twitching can point to the same. However, canine twitching can signify an array of other diverse things, including deep sleep and even feelings of intense stress and nervousness.
If you're admiring your precious pooch as he sleeps at night, you might notice some occasional twitching -- specifically of the face, ears and trunk. These movements often denote the REM (rapid eye movement) stage of sleep. The REM stage is characterized by dreaming -- and lots of it.
Twitches are a common indication of seizures in dogs. One doggie ailment that routinely leads to seizures is canine distemper. This virus, once it makes way to a canine's brain, frequently leads to seizures that cause twitching and shivering behaviors. A vast array of other medical conditions and situations also can bring upon twitching, such as encephalitis, liver disease, canine epilepsy, hypoglycemia, poison ingestion, renal failure, head injuries, meningitis and heatstroke. These situations all can be extremely dangerous to dogs, so it's crucial to pay attention to any signs of them. If your dog twitches a lot, take him to the veterinarian immediately.
If your precious dog is still a spry puppy, twitching can be a positive thing rather than a cause for concern. Puppies in optimal condition tend to be extremely mobile, and that includes twitching. If a young pup's health is compromised for whatever reason, however, he might remain completely motionless.
When dogs feel unsettled and nervous, their body language often displays it. Twitching is just one such example of how canines express their uncomfortable emotions through body language. Along with twitching, other hints of nerves, apprehension and discomfort in pooches include tight and rigid body stances, narrowed eyes, licking of the nose, panting, yawning, salivation, sniffing, restlessness, shedding, constant moving around in circles, exhaustion and issues with bladder control. If your dog is twitching and you notice some of these other body language hints accompanying his abrupt and quick motions, it could mean that something is bothering your poor pet greatly.
By Naomi Millburn
DogChannel.com: Why Does My Dog Have Seizures?
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DogChannel.com: Breeders and Newborn Puppies
The Marin Humane Society: The Difficult Dog
Rock County Humane Society: Your Dog and Hot Weather
Caring Hands Humane Society: Body Language of Dogs
About the Author
Naomi Millburn has been a freelance writer since 2011. Her areas of writing expertise include arts and crafts, literature, linguistics, traveling, fashion and European and East Asian cultures. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in American literature from Aoyama Gakuin University in Tokyo.