Head Tremors in Bulldog and French Bulldogs

By: Dr. Roy Kraemer |
DVM, Bulldog Specialist Veterinarian

Dear Dr. Kraemer Lulu is a 3y Eng Bulldog, with a few scary recent involuntary head-shaking episodes; she is otherwise active, and her behavior seems unaffected during non-tremor periods. I watched a video on your site with head bobbing just like Lulu that you described as idiopathic bulldog head tremors, and I wanted to reach out to you for guidance on the next steps 🐾🩺. I have attached a short video clip capturing one of the episodes for your reference.

Best regards, Sarah Thompson  #BulldogHealth #headshake #LuluTheBulldog 🐶 👨‍⚕️

Head tremors in bulldogs and French bulldogs are also known as

  • Bulldog and French bulldog head shaking
  • “Bulldog and French bulldog head nodding”
  •  “Bulldog head bobbing”
  • “Idiopathic bulldog head tremors

Those bulldog head tremor names are used interchangeably

Head tremors in bulldog and France bulldogs

 

Bulldog Head Shaking 5 X MUST KNOW

  1. The most common origin is unknown and benign. Focal seizures should be r/o.
  2. The idiopathic type is unique to the breed and is usually painless.
  3. An exam is recommended, but for the idiopathic type, an RX is not required.
  4. Head shaking is usually transitory and short and can be stopped by distracting the pet.
  5. For nervous system wellness, we offer  Dr. Kraemer’s Affordable Head Tremors Bundles 

Members of this bulldog community prefer prevention over RX

Bulldog Head Tremor ULTIMATE

Head Tremors in Bulldog and France Bulldogs CAUSE:

Bulldog Head Tremors: IDOPATHIC CAUSE

The underlying medical origin of bulldog head tremors is unknown and is considered “benign.”.

The medical term for “unknown” is idiopathic.

 Idopathic bulldog and French bulldog head bobbing is the most comon cause of bulldog head tremors.

Bulldog Head Shaking FOCAL SEIZURES:

The thinking is that bulldog focal seizures involve a stretch mechanism localized to the head.

Bulldog Head Bobbing INTENTION TREMORS:

Bulldog intention tremors origin is the cerebellum

Bulldog Head Tremors SLEEP DISORDER:

Associated with REM (rapid eye movement) dreaming phase of bulldog sleeping

Head Tremors in Bulldog and French Bulldogs

Head-Shaking in Bulldog: PRESENTATION:

Although idiopathic tremors, less common intention tremors, and focal seizures may appear similar to the owner, they exhibit differences.

BULLDOG HEAD BOBBING INTENTION TREMORS 

The presentation of “bulldog intention tremors” in head bobbing is similar to the more common bulldog idiopathic head bobbing.

The tremors are jerkier and typically observed when your bulldog or French bulldog eats, drinks, or during other voluntary movements.

BULLDOG HEAD TREMORS SLEEP DISORDER

Bulldog sleep disorder head bobbing appears while your bulldog sleeps during the dreaming phase and resolves when your bulldog is awakened

BULLDOG HEAD SHAKE FOCAL SEIZURES

Bulldog head shaking could imitate the more common idiopathic head shaking and might improve with seizure anticonvulsive Rx.

In contrast to bulldog idiopathic head tremors patients who remain alert and responsive, bulldogs suffering from focal seizures exhibit a change in mental status

BULLDOG AND FR. BULLDOG HEAD BOBBING / IDOPATHIC:

Idiopathic bulldog head tremors remain bright and alert and the bobbing will stop when they are distracted and move their head (food, toy, treat, take a walk, etc.)

Distraction with food, toy, and treat, will usually stop your bulldog or French bulldog head from bobbing. 

Head Tremors in Bulldog DURATION:

Most bulldog head-shaking, tremors, nodding, and bobbing are short-lasting but, at times, could last for a few minutes

Head Tremors in Bulldog and France Bulldogs: DIAGNOSIS

Common diagnostic testing conducted for a bulldog and French bulldog head-shaking are:

  1. MEDICAL EXAM: a full, comprehensive exam
  2. CBC, CHEMESTRIES,URINE: a general blood test to rule out diabetes and other medical conditions that can lead to seizures.
  3. BILE ACID TEST: to help rule out portosystemic shunts (liver shunts).
  4. IMAGING:  CT and MRI
  5. OTHER: spinal fluid analysis, EEG 

Head Tremors in Bulldog: PREVENTION & TREATMENT

Seizure medication is controversial; if your bulldog has no seizure history, I usually do not prescribe anything.

Bulldog head tremors, are usually intermittent and are usually considered harmless, thus NO treatment is required.

Head Tremors in Bulldog TIPS & WARNINGS:

Below are a few selected bulldog head-shaking tips and warnings courtesy of Dr. Kraemer

HEAD TREMOR AND PAIN TIP:

Bulldogs and French bulldogs exhibiting head tremors and bobbing are usually fully alert and acting normally.

Though distressing to the owner, bulldog idopathic head shaking is not painfull nor a distress signal

BULLDOG HEAD SHAKING GENETIC LINK TIP:

There may be a genetic link to bulldog head tremors

BULLDOG HEAD BOBBING NEURO DISEASE TIP:

Bulldogs with idiopathic head tremors do not develop other neurological signs as a result of this condition.

BULLDOG HEAD SHAK DIRECTION TIP:

Your bulldog and French bulldog head shaking can present as a side-to-side movement (saying “no”) or an up-and-down movement (saying “yes”).

BULLDOG SHAKING LEGS TIP:

Many senior bulldogs and French bulldog owners wonder why their aging dog’s hind legs shake and if it’s related to bulldog head shaking.

Shaking of the extremities can happen when standing up or lying down and can be progressive.

Just like “bulldog head shaking”, the origin of the shaking is unknown ( idiopathic.)

therapeutic joint supplement for bulldogs leg shaking

Bulldog leg tremors might be associated with:

BULLDOG LEG SHAKE MEDICATION:

Anti-inflammatory and analgesic medication (NSAID) can be tried to help relieve leg tremors associated with bulldog arthritis.

BULLDOG AND FR. BULLDOG LEG SHAKE / SUPPLEMENTS:

You can add supplements like Dr. Kraemer’s V4B:

Fish Oil EFA immune-joint-skin Therapeutic Chew Fr Bulldog

 

HEAD TREMORS DISTEMPER VIRUS WARNING:

Your bulldog might be head- or leg-shaking due to other medical conditions; thus, you should always consult your veterinarian.

One example is the canine distemper virus. Those unfortunate bulldogs are usually present with jaw shaking and leg muscle shaking in addition to head tremors and can be observed even while your bulldog is sleeping.

Bulldog Distemper Encephalomyelitis is rare because of the introduction of the vaccine and its integration into our canine pet’s wellness core vaccine series.

HEAD TREMORS ELECTROLYTE IMBALANCE and TOXINS WARNING:

Other types of tremors can be due to poison and toxins, hormonal abnormalities, and electrolyte imbalances.

Tremors in Bulldog and France Bulldogs TRUTH & MYTH

To assist you in navigating the abundance of online advice, information, and misinformation, here is a concise list outlining the true and false aspects of bulldog head nodding:

BULLDOG HEAD TREMOR SUGAR-TREAT MYTH:

Offering ice cream, honey, or sugary liquids is not recommended.

Those are often given to treat seizing bulldog puppies and French bulldog puppies suffering from hypoglycemia (low blood sugar) events.

For bulldogs and French bulldogs, idiopathic head shakes use distractions that move the head, such as other food, treats, or a toy. 

HEAD TREMORS CALCIUM SUPPLEMENT MYTH:

Offering calcium supplements to a bulldog or French bulldog with a head shake has little to no merit.

Calcium supplements are only given to bulldog females for “postpartum calcium deficiency” (i.e. eclampsia), and are based on empirical low blood calcium (blood test).

Recommended by Owners Approved by Bulldogs

 

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The information provided on this platform is for general informational purposes only. It is not intended as a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your veterinarian regarding any medical condition. It's important to always consider professional medical advice promptly and not to delay seeking it based on information you've read on this platform. Any reliance on the information provided here is entirely at your discretion.

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