Idiopathic Tremor & French Bulldogs: Symptoms, Treatment

Idiopathic tremor is a condition connected with the nervous system that results in rhythmic movements such as shaking the head, hands, arms, legs, and voice tremors; however, this disorder is not connected to Parkinson’s.

To date, experts have not been able to identify the primary cause of the disorder. Thus, the term is referred to as ‘idiopathic.’ However, there is a hypothesis that it can be connected to dyskinesia, which causes the same rhythmic movement as idiopathic tremor.

Idiopathic tremors in French Bulldogs are most popularly referred to as bulldog head bobbing. This head shaking or bobbing is very common among the canine family particularly, the French Bulldogs, which is benign and head bobbing does not last for more than a minute or two. If you own a pet French Bulldog, you must identify the normal head shaking to idiopathic tremor so that you can seek medical help at the right time, since the presentation of both activities can be pretty similar.

How to identify

The natural head bobbing amongst the French Bulldogs has its origin at the cerebellum part of the brain. In this regard, the type of bobbing has more rapid movements, and you can observe them presenting these head jerkins when they are eating their meals, drinking water, or in between their play or exercise sessions.

French Bulldogs further display rapid eye movement (REM). These movements can result from dreams, heavy meals, or when your pet has undergone some excessive exercise during the day.

How to identify focal seizure

Furthermore, the focal seizures in French Bulldogs are also very similar to the idiopathic tremor. However, you can identify the difference by observing their movements. Bulldogs under idiopathic tremor are calmer, more alert and actively responds to commands. On the contrary, a bulldog with focal seizures undergoes rapid changes in its emotional and mental well-being.

According to Dr. Kraemer, head shaking in bulldogs is a widespread occurrence. It is not a life-threatening emergency.

Symptoms of Idiopathic tremor in French Bulldogs

The symptoms of idiopathic tremor are as follows:

  • French Bulldogs undergo involuntary head movements, which can be jerky, side to side or up-down movements. They are popularly known as ‘head bobbing.’
  • Idiopathic tremor is more common in the canine family between the stages of six months to three years.
  • The duration of these tremors can last up to a minute or two.

Treatment

According to Dr. Kraemer, you can try the following treatments for idiopathic tremor in your bulldog:

  • Unless your Frenchie has a history of epilepsy or seizures, do not rush to oral medication. It is better not to prescribe any medication, since the tremors do not last long and are a non-painful disorder. This can cause more harm than good to your pet.
  • When your pets go through idiopathic tremors, try the art of distracting them with a treat. Interact with your Frenchie visually by showing a toy or a leash. This activity will distract your pet, and their focus will be directed towards communicating with you.
  • Before assuming anything, make sure you consult a veterinarian if your pet’s parents have a history of epilepsy or seizures. The tremors in your pet can be a result of other conditions such as food poisoning, toxins and vital imbalances, which could prove risky.
  • To identify idiopathic tremor from the conditions mentioned above, the most competent treatment will be to have your pet undergo basic blood and urine tests, bile tests, MRI and ECG. These tests will give you an answer to why your pet experiences tremors occasionally and give you a definite scale of how worried you should be.
  • As mentioned, exercise and walks can play a vital role in reducing the condition of idiopathic tremors. As long as you keep your pet active and distracted, the chances of head bobbing are likely to decrease as your pet gets older.

Nutrition

  • Since the exact cause of idiopathic tremor is still unknown, no definite medicine can be prescribed for the same. However, for idiopathic tremor in an adult dog, you can prescribe supplements that are anti-inflammatory. These supplements, such as fish oil, joint care, etc. which can help reduce the tremors and body shaking among aged bulldogs.
  • Besides giving supplements to your aged Frenchie, you can try feeding your younger ones with food that has rich calcium content, such as yogurt, peanut butter and honey. Try these as treats to distract them. Furthermore, mix about a teaspoon of honey in their drinking water, particularly in their morning breakfast meal. Before introducing yogurt to your pet, make sure they are lactose intolerant. It is more advisable that you ingest yogurt which is fat-free. These are healthier than the regular ones.
  • Avoid giving human food. French bulldogs love fruits and vegetables. However, it would be best not to feed them with human food containing ginger, garlic, onions, and anything with caffeine. These food types can cause electrolyte imbalance which can decrease their mental abilities, digestion and sleep pattern.

Well-made supplements for Frenchies to prevent idiopathic tremor:

Idiopathic tremor: French bulldog chilling in sun

Final thoughts

The actual cause of idiopathic tremor among the French Bulldogs and a few other canine breeds is still objective. Likewise, the symptoms and treatments are still very minimal compared to other disorders identified by experts in both the scientific and medicinal fields. However, since the condition is a non-painful disorder, you do not need to worry if you see your Frenchie head bobbing. Understand that your pet is involuntarily reacting to a nerve urge. The best you can do is, follow the treatments mentioned above and hopefully, in the following years, more studies on the idiopathic tremor can be made to make the lives of the owners much more manageable by understanding precisely what needs to be improvised in case of such a presentation.

What is essential is, as an owner, you need to have good knowledge about how you can identify an idiopathic tremor from another pathological condition that can be serious or even fatal so that you can seek proper medical assistance at the right time.

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