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208 Breeds, 422 Health Conditions  |  Find a Vet

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White Dog Shaker Syndrome

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Condition Overview

This syndrome occurs primarily in adult dogs with white coats, although dogs with other coat colors are occasionally affected. The disease occurs most often in small breeds, including West Highland White Terriers, Maltese, Bichon Frises, and Toy and Miniature Poodles.

Symptoms

It is characterized by the sudden appearance of tremors, sometimes accompanied by wild and random movements of the eyes. The disease affects the cerebellum, which coordinates muscle movement. Sudden trembling that involves the entire body and head is the main sign. The dog does not shake while sleeping, but the more she moves, the worse the tremor gets. These tremors can be disabling.

Causes

The cause is unknown, but an autoimmune basis has been suggested.

Diagnosis

See your veterinarian if your small dog suddenly develops a tremor that seems to get worse.

Treatment

Corticosteroids reverse the shaking within a few days. Some dogs require extended treatment. About 25% of dogs retain some degree of tremor for life. With refractory cases, diazepam (Valium) may be added to control tremors.

Prevention

There is no prevention for this condition.

Support

Please contact your veterinarian if you think your pet may have this condition.

Show Sources & Contributors +

Sources

Dog Owners Home Veterinary Handbook

Publisher: Wiley Publishing, 2007

Website: http://www.wiley.com/WileyCDA/

Authors: Debra M. Eldredge, Liisa D. Carlson, Delbert G. Carlson, James M. Giffen MD

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