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Persistent Dog Twitches

Having persistent dog twitches is most commonly due to a disease called chorea. A nervous involvement characterized by intermit­tent twitching of certain muscles or a group of muscles, chorea is quite common. The ailment may persist for months or years and, though it may occasionally contribute to dis­comfort, the normal functions of the animal remain appar­ently unaffected, and its longevity seems unimpaired.

The cause of the disease is obscure. Most cases seem to occur as an aftermath of a severe attack of distemper. It may also be a symptom of an inflammatory condition of the mem­branes that cover the nerves or spinal cord, and it occasion­ally appears in the early stages of rickets. Even the most ex­acting microscopic examination of the body tissues, on post mortem, have failed to reveal specific, characteristic manifes­tations of the disease complex, though anemia has been a pretty constant finding.

The muscles of the head and legs are most commonly af­fected because of dog twitches in chorea, though the twitching may occur in any part of the body. In mild cases, the spasmodic movements are most readily observed while the animal is lying on its side. The spasms are often less marked while the animal is asleep, and excitement may cause exaggeration of the symptoms. Consciousness is not disturbed in cases of chorea. Diag­nosis is based on the history of the case, the lack of general symptoms and the characteristic periodic movements.

Treatment of chronic dog twitches is usually ineffective, and it is not often attempted because results cannot be expected unless medication is administered over long periods of time. Vari­ous tonic preparations containing arsenic or iron compounds have occasionally been used with indifferent results. Highly nourishing food should back up any course of treatment.

In the above, chorea has been discussed in its pure form, that is, where it is present in the otherwise normal animal. Very often chorea arises as a complication of a severe attack of distemper at the height of the disease. In such cases death almost invariably ensues.

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