Horse Side Vet Guide ®

Equine Health Resource

Local Muscle Twitching

Code Red - Call Your Vet Immediately, Even Outside Business Hours

Code Orange - Call Your Vet at Their First Available Office Hours

Code Red - Call Your Vet Immediately, Even Outside Business Hours

  • If the results of the Whole Horse Exam (WHE) indicate fever (Temp>101F/38.3C), or heart rate greater than 48 BPM that persists an hour after recovery from exercise.

Code Orange - Call Your Vet at Their First Available Office Hours

  • If the horse's appetite and attitude are normal and you see nothing else wrong.
  • If the results of the Whole Horse Exam (WHE) suggest the horse is otherwise normal.

Muscle trembling (fasciculation) that occurs in a specific area (not all over) can range from obvious shaking to subtle twitching. Commonly affected areas include the face, especially the muzzle and eyelid, the trunk, upper limb, back or neck.

Localized muscle twitching is often seen with electrolyte imbalance, local nerve injuries, certain neurologic and muscular diseases, and a variety of other conditions. Years ago, during a large outbreak of West Nile Virus, I noticed that almost every affected horse had fine muscle tremors, usually of the muzzle, lips, and face.

WHAT TO DO

If you notice an area of the horse that seems to be twitching or trembling, take some time to look carefully at the specific areas affected. Is the trembling body-wide or local? Assess your horse’s general health using the Whole Horse Exam (WHE), and look for other signs of illness or disease. Take special note of rectal temperature, heart rate, attitude and appetite. Share your findings and concerns with your vet.

WHAT YOUR VET DOES

If there are no other signs of injury or illness, your vet may advise you to give your horse electrolytes or monitor your horse for awhile.

POSSIBLE TREATMENTS or TherapiesTo Lessen or Resolve the Sign

Author: Doug Thal DVM Dipl. ABVP

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