Idiopathic Head Tremor Syndrome is quite rare with dogs and doesn’t it manifest itself in all breeds. Research suggests that Labradors, Dobermans, Retrievers, Boxers and British Bulldogs are the most prone to the condition. We will try to provide you with everything you need to know about Idiopathic Head Tremor Syndrome and if you worry if your dog exhibits symptoms.
Idiopathic Head Tremor Syndrome, or IHTS for short, is also known as Episodic Rapid Repetitive Myoclonus. The head tremors are usually vertical or horizontal making it appear as though your dog is shaking his head ‘yes’ or ‘no’. The cause of IHTS is unknown, but it’s believed that the condition is hereditary due to the fact that affected Dobermans were tested and traced to back to a common sire. Upon further study, it was discovered that males were more affected than females, although this discrepancy varied between breeds. In Bulldogs, over 50% were females, but in Doberman Pinschers only 27% of those affected were female.
As of today, there is no cure for IHTS but some theorize that the condition is related to the stretch mechanism in the neck area. Interestingly, many dogs can be distracted during an episode, to the point of tremor cessation. Even though there is no cure for IHTS, there are typically no adverse effects or long-term damage in any way. Usually the head tremors last for a few minutes and dogs do not generally exhibit any kind of distress or experience pain during an episode. IHTS is rare and is often confused with other conditions that can cause seizures. If you suspect your dog has IHTS then you’ll need to pay a visit the veterinarian to undergo several tests. Your dog may be administered a Bile Acid Test, MRI, CSF (Cerebrospinal Fluid Analysis) and blood work to rule out other causes.
Keep in mind that, with Idiopathic Head Tremors, there really isn’t too much to worry about and the seizures usually don’t last too long. The quickest way to end an episode is to distract the dog by offering treats, play, or to going for a walk. Try not to show any concern or distress during an episode of IHTS as it may cause unnecessary anxiety, which is widely believed to exacerbate the condition.