Would giving my dog sugar help with her idiopathic head tremors?
Original Question: "Hi there! I just had a quick question related to Bulldogs. I have a female American Bulldog and she’s now seven. She has had a few instances where she almost had what I can’t think of any other word to describe other than a seizure but only of the head. Her head was just shaking and wiggling moving back-and-forth but it didn’t seem to bother her at all! She just continued to want to play ball and be her normal self. This happened a few times over the course of a few months and maybe once six months later. I researched it and found a lot of videos of similar things happening to dogs that looked exactly like an American Bulldog. In one video the owner said it happens often and she would feed her dog pieces of watermelon? It stopped the dogs shaking head!! (I’m sure you can find the video) Most of the videos and people I found talking about it related it to a sugar deficiency? Often times they would give their dog something with sugar in it? Ironically at this time we had another dog living with us for 6 months and my dog started eating better quality dog food as a result. She had always eaten ALPO before (the cheap stuff I know) Could the switch of her food to the BETTER quality brand have caused the head spasms? Maybe because the sugar content went down? When they did happen I tried the YouTube’s advice and gave her a fortune cookie (only thing I had with sugar for a dog at the time) and it worked! They make it stop instantly! Now I keep them on hand but she’s back on ALPO now and they stopped altogether. I fear I’ve made her diabetic with that crappy food but obviously it’s too late to change now. Is it related to sugar at all? Or am I crazy for believing the internet and should I get her checked out? I should note though it's been about a year head tremor free back on ALPO :) Thanks!" - Tara
Thanks for your interesting question. I had to do a bit of research on this one! This sounds like a disorder that has been documented in the literature called “idiopathic head tremors,” which can occur in any breed, but seems to occur frequently in Bulldogs. Unfortunately, it seems there is not a lot known about underlying causes or treatments for this disorder. The good news is that it does not represent a life-threatening problem, and many dogs stop tremoring as they age. I would still strongly recommend that you rule out other causes of tremoring or abnormal movements by having your vet perform a complete neurological exam and blood work at a minimum. As a side note – diabetes would cause an elevated sugar level in the blood (not a low level), and so giving more sugar would not help if this is the case. Other non-diabetic illnesses can cause a low blood sugar level and can also cause seizure-like activity — you can screen for these fairly easily with blood work and a urinalysis with your veterinarian.
I hope this is helpful for you.
Dr. Kim Hester
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