Dystonia in veterinary neurology

J Vet Intern Med. 2022 Nov;36(6):1872-1881. doi: 10.1111/jvim.16532. Epub 2022 Sep 10.


Dystonia is a clinical sign and main feature of many movement disorders in humans as well as veterinary species. It is characterized by sustained or intermittent involuntary muscle contractions causing abnormal (often repetitive) movements, postures, or both. This review discusses the terminology and definition of dystonia, its phenomenology, and its pathophysiology, and provides considerations regarding the diagnosis and treatment of dystonia in dogs and cats. In addition, currently recognized or reported disorders in dogs and cats in which dystonia is a particular or main feature are discussed and comparisons are made between disorders featuring dystonia in humans and animals. We suggest that when describing the phenomenology of dogs and cats with dystonia, if possible the following should be included: activity being performed at onset (e.g., resting or running or exercise-induced), body distribution, duration, responsiveness (subjective), severity, temporal pattern (i.e., paroxysmal or persistent, severity at onset and at later stages), presence or absence of autonomic signs (e.g., salivation), presence or absence of preceding signs (e.g., restlessness), presence or absence of signs after dystonia subsides (e.g., sleepiness), coexistence of other movement disorders, any other neurological manifestations, and possible links to administered medications, intoxications or other associated factors. We also suggest that dystonia be classified based on its etiology as either structural genetic, suspected genetic, reactive, or unknown.

Keywords: dyskinesia; hyperkinetic; movement disorder; muscle tone.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cat Diseases* / diagnosis
  • Cat Diseases* / therapy
  • Cats
  • Dog Diseases* / diagnosis
  • Dog Diseases* / therapy
  • Dogs
  • Dystonia* / diagnosis
  • Dystonia* / therapy
  • Dystonia* / veterinary
  • Humans
  • Movement Disorders* / complications
  • Movement Disorders* / veterinary
  • Neurology*