We have all experienced cramps in some way or the other at various points in our life. The sudden jerk in the leg while running, the stretch in your leg muscles while doing a dead-lift in the gym, or the pain while stretching your body out and feeling a sudden pull. Let us first review what cramps are, as they are not just limited to that.
What are cramps?
A muscle cramp is a sudden and involuntary contraction of one or more of your muscles. Now, this can happen in any way, like a temporary paralysis of muscles from overuse, sharp abdominal pain, persistent and most intense though dull lower abdominal pain associated with dysmenorrhea, or menstrual pain in the abdomen. All of these are various types of cramps that we feel at times.
Common Causes of Cramps
Straining or overusing a muscle
Compression of your nerves from problems such as a spinal cord injury or a pinched nerve in the neck or back
Low levels of electrolytes such as magnesium, potassium, or calcium in the body
Not enough blood circulation to your muscles
There can be other reasons, too, but these are the most common ones. Now, you may be wondering; what about our pets? Do dogs get cramps? A lot of the common scenarios that lead to cramps are also common in dogs. So yes, dogs get cramps too!
Cramping in Dogs
The definition is the same here. Even the most common cause, which is muscle overuse, is the same for dogs, leading to cramps. They are caused by nervous hyperactivity. Active dogs usually go through this while playing or running. Depending on the size of the dog and the cause of the cramps, they can last for a couple of minutes or for days if it’s more serious. The severe case is when the reason is a lack of calcium in the blood.
Signs of Cramping in Dogs
The signs can be either mild or very serious, depending on the cause of the cramps. The common symptoms include –
When should you be concerned about Dog Cramping?
The signs can get severe in some cases when the cramp is no longer a temporary condition but a symptom of an underlying disease. If your dog is shaking or trembling, do not assume that the dog is just getting old or is feeling cold. It can signify discomfort caused by s poisoning, pancreatitis, or kidney disease. For example, dogs who have swallowed large amounts of chocolate, moldy compost, or sugar-free sweetener xylitol often suffer severe muscle tremors.
Treatment for Cramping in Dogs
Our mothers usually recommend a banana to boost potassium levels in the body in case of cramps. But this won’t work on our beloved puppies. However, some quick remedies can be done to cure cramps in dogs. These include –
Gentle massage – A gentle rub and massage can increase blood circulation and reduce pain. The added benefit is that it will strengthen the bond between you and your dog.
Cold compress – Once the cramping body part is located, using an ice pack will help reduce inflammation and thus reduce pain. Cold therapy is also used for the pup to recover faster. Applying an ice pack for 3-5 minutes a few times a day is recommended.
Water – the ultimate elixir – Dehydration is also one of the causes of cramps in our four-legged friends. Providing clean and fresh water can help cure dehydration and, thus, cramps caused by it.
Rest – Sleep is no less than a superpower. It helps repair the body. Good sleep will help your dog recuperate after strenuous activity and exercise.
Medication – In some cases, if the cramps are more frequent than usual, vet-prescribed medication and anti-inflammatory supplements may be needed
Physical therapy – Consulting a professional and conducting physical therapy for dogs can not only help dogs recover faster but also prevent future crams from happening.
Supplements – Nutritional supplements, such as vitamins and minerals, herbal muscle relaxers, and electrolytes, can provide support for your dog’s muscular system while enhancing the healing process.
Surgery – In extreme cases, surgery can be performed to remove the affected nerve to cure the cramps.
How to Prevent Cramps for Dogs
Prevention is always better than a cure; we all know that. The best way to deal with muscle spasms is to keep them from happening in the first place. There are multiple techniques to help with this including –
Adequate fluids – Make sure that your dog's diet includes adequate fluids and water to prevent dehydration, especially on warmer days.
Limit the exercise – Refrain from exhausting your dog while in a training session or during strenuous physical activity.
Follow up – Visit your vet again a few days after the initial cramp to check for ongoing signs or symptoms that signal something more serious may be going on.
Nutritional diet – Once the past spasms have healed, add more nutrients to your dog’s diet to increase their immunity in the future. Talk to your vet about what nutrients your dog might be lacking.
Cramping, just like humans, is a common phenomenon amongst our pets, like dogs and cats. Most of the time, it will be a temporary condition that will continue for a brief 5-10 minutes. Despite the temporary nature, it can be very uncomfortable for your dogs. Not all crams will be minor. At times, cramps can be a sign of an underlying disease. Do consult your vet in case of any signs and take all precautions to prevent cramps from happening in the first place.
Happy Mood and Health to your Doggo, and lots of Love and Licks to you!