White dog shaker syndrome

White dog shaker syndrome

What is White dog shaker syndrome?

White dog shaker syndrome causes full body tremors in small, white dog breeds. It is known under several similar names, such as “Shaker Dog Syndrome” and “Little White Shakers Syndrome”. The most commonly affected dog breeds are West Highland White Terriers, Bichon Frisé dogs, Maltese dogs, and Poodles – all fairly small breeds.

The reason behind White dog shaker syndrome is still not fully understood, but one theory suggests that the problems are caused by an autoimmune-induced generalized deficiency of neurotransmitters. The term autoimmune-induced means that the dog is attacked by its own immune system. When dogs suffering from White dog shaker syndrome have their cerebrospinal fluid analyzed, it will quite often reveal an unusually high number of lymphocytes.

Symptoms of White dog shaker syndrome

The first symptoms of White dog shaker syndrome will normally appear when the dog is around 1-2 years of age, and the attacks will often come when the dog is stressed. (White dog shaker syndrome can however appear in dogs no older than 6 months, while other dogs are over 3 years of age at the time of their first episode.)

Symptoms of White dog shaker syndrome include nystagmus (involuntary eye movement), walking problems, and seizures. The disease derives its name from the tremors that can affect the entire body of the dog. Dogs with White dog shaker syndrome can suffer from intention tremor, which means that the tremors are worse when the dog is excited or is trying to carry out a specific task. The task does not have to be difficult; it can be as simple as eating. When the dog give up trying and decides to rest, the tremors will decrease or vanish completely.

White dog shaker syndrome is not painful for the dog, and it will not affect the mental state of your dog.

In most dogs, the symptoms of White dog shaker syndrome become progressively worse over the course of 1-3 days and they stay at the same level until the dog receives adequate veterinary care.

White dog shaker syndrome diagnose

The veterinarian will make this diagnose based on the symptoms displayed by your dog, and the vet will also test your dog to rule out other possible reasons behind this type of symptoms. Dogs suffering from White dog shaker syndrome will usually have perfectly normal spinal and higher reflexes, voluntary motor functions, cranial nerve function, and conscious awareness of limb positioning.

White dog shaker syndrome treatment

A dog suffering from White dog shaker syndrome can be treated with benzodiazepines, which can control the symptoms, and corticosteroids, which may cause remission. Most veterinarians will use both drugs simultaneously to treat dogs with White dog shaker syndrome.

In most situations, the veterinarian will give the dog high doses of medication to begin with, and then gradually decrease the doses over the course of several weeks. Even if your dog seems completely recovered you should never stop treatment without consulting your vet, because the symptoms can resurface if treatment is ended prematurely.

Dogs that receive early treatment will normally get better and recover completely within a week. Lifelong treatment can however be necessary to keep the problems under control.

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