Shaker Dog Syndrome-Causes, Symptoms & Treatments
The mysterious White Shaker Dog Syndrome is a full body condition that dog owners are unaware of until they observe it in their little white adult dog. It primarily affects white small breed adult dogs, even though it occasionally affects the Australian Silky Terriers, Miniature Pinschers, or Yorkshire Terriers of various colors.
Veterinarians and dog owners recognize it as little White Shaker’s Syndrome, idiopathic steroid responsive shaker syndrome, “little white shakers” syndrome or the Shaker Dog Syndrome. Affected breeds diagnosed the most are West Highland White Terriers, White Poodles, Bichons frise, Beagles, Maltese, and Westie-Spaniel hybrids.
Symptoms of White Shaker Dog Syndrome
What makes this condition exceptional is that the dogs lead a perfectly normal life and have very few problems. Then out of nowhere, the unmanageable shaking begins – dog owners should be aware that not all small white adult dogs have it. Once the symptoms begin, they will begin around one year of age. Alert dog owners recognize it anywhere from six months to three years of age.
When first appearing, the dog will develop full body tremors for several reasons: when the dog is handled too much, becomes stressed out, or becomes too excited. The tremors involve the entire body and head, a condition that is extremely disabling. Wild and random movements of the eyes begin with the dog’s shaking is in full mode. The head will tilt at times, with mild to moderate hypermetric behaviors showing.
Shoulders and legs are tender to touch, with the dog unable to hold weight on their legs after serious spasms occur. Many times the dog has rapid and severe shaking, with spasms developing from the neck to the hindquarters. Overall, this leaves the dog disabled and extremely confused. When the dog is shaking, it will be unable to eat. If the condition lasts for several days, the dog will become very ill due to lack of food and physical effects of the tremors.
However, so-called dog experts say the animal’s condition is not painful and its personality will be unaffected. Dog owners who experience their dog’s devastating condition strongly say otherwise.
Causes of the White Shaker Dog Syndrome
Many medical professionals believe the white shaker dog syndrome is affected by the dog’s immune system. Statistics show that approximately 25% of the dogs who develop the condition will retain the disorder for the remainder of their lives.
White Shaker Dog Syndrome is thought to be associated with the central nervous system, an inflammation that affects the cerebellum of the brain. Because it is very rare, veterinarians are unfamiliar with the condition. When first observing the symptoms, they will diagnose it as lead poisoning – two conditions with similar symptoms.
However, blood testing and case histories will rule out other similar situations, such as organophosphate poisoning from insecticides and hypocalcemia from giving birth to puppies. Many pet owners take their dog to an internal medicine specialist as a referral from their vet, especially if the family vet is unfamiliar with shaker dog syndrome.
Treatments for White Shaker Dog Syndrome
The treatment of choice for White Shaker Dog Syndrome is corticosteroids or benzodiazepines, prescribed to reverse the uncontrollable shaking within a couple of days. Some vets prescribe diazepam (Valium Rx) and prednisone to control the tremors. Some dogs will require extended treatment for life, even though many dogs will recover.
At the beginning, vets prescribe high doses of medicine over several weeks, while decreasing the dosage as the clinical signs show improvement. It is strongly advised that dogs with this condition not be bred.
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