Dystonia in veterinary neurology

Koen M Santifort, Paul J J Mandigers*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


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.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1872-1881
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Veterinary Internal Medicine
Issue number6
Early online date10 Sept 2022
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2022


  • dyskinesia
  • hyperkinetic
  • movement disorder
  • muscle tone


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