Dreams Can Cause Pet Spasms

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Q My dog is a female Sheltie-poodle mix. The symptom is spasms. They occur only at night during sleep. Over the years these movements have increased in frequency. She is 11 years old. Could it be serious enough to consult a vet? I have forgotten to mention it on the occasions when she has been to the vet.

She was once set spinning in the street by an automobile. Only obvious result was a scar close to the eye.

Henry Williams,


A Spasms at night while sleeping may be due to your pet’s sleeping pattern or even dreams. It is common for both humans and their pets to have some muscular movements while sleeping, especially with human nightmares. If these spasms become more frequent or occur when your pet is awake, then she should be examined by your veterinarian to determine if a neurological disorder is developing. Since your pet has had a history of being hit by a car that resulted in some head trauma, a neurological exam may be necessary to discover any possible permanent damage to the brain. An electroencephalogram or even a CAT scan may be necessary if her signs warrant further investigation. At 11 years of age, some normal neurological degeneration should be considered, as well as the remote possibility of a brain lesion or tumor. These signs may be subtle at first and will require a careful history on your part.


Q I have a 14-year-old female cat who is really starting to show her age. She is thin, sleeps a lot, and is a little weak when she walks. She still eats well with no vomiting. Her coat is clean and she still takes care of herself. Yet I’ve been told that she may be suffering and should consider putting her to sleep. What do you think?

Stephanie Adams,

Santa Ana

A Euthanasia of a loved pet is an extremely emotional and personal decision with no clear guidelines. The quality of your pet’s life and her relationship with you should be more important than the quantity of life. Your cat sounds like a relatively normal geriatric feline. Most pets when they get older slow down their activity, sleep more, and are slower in getting around the house because they are developing arthritic changes in the joints. I feel that as long as she still takes care of herself, maintains a good appetite, and still offers companionship, then her life is worth living to both of you. If her health declines, you will know in your heart when a decision needs to be made. Talk to your veterinarian, who will help you.


Dakota is a 1-year-old neutered male golden retriever. He loves children and other dogs. Dakota has a good temperament and an outgoing personality. This lovable, active, housebroken pooch is like a cuddly teddy bear. Dakota is available for adoption at the Laguna Beach Animal Shelter, 20612 Laguna Canyon Road, (714) 497-3552.

Also waiting to be adopted at the Laguna Beach Animal Shelter:

Bearded collie: Luto, a 2 1/2-year-old neutered male, housebroken, playful, needs to be groomed on a regular basis.

Red Merle Australian shepherd: Austin, a 2 1/2-year-old male, good with children, very energetic, needs lots of room to romp, housebroken.

Silky terrier: Sammy, a 2-year-old neutered male, black-and-tan coat, outgoing personality, loves children and other dogs, bouncy but quiet, perfect little lap dog.


Mixed short-haired terrier: Margie, a spayed female, 8 months old, red coat, a devoted and affectionate companion who wants to please, loves people and other dogs.

The Laguna Beach Animal Shelter is open daily from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. All animals are adopted by application. Fee: $75, includes all vaccinations, three wormings, neutering or spaying, and bath.

Got a question about your pet? Send it to Dr. Glenn Ericson, Ask the Vet, Orange County Life, The Times, 1375 Sunflower Ave., Costa Mesa, Calif. 92626. Ericson, a practicing Orange County veterinarian, is president of the Southern California Veterinary Medical Assn.