Diagnosing White Shaker Dog Syndrome

White shaker dog syndrome gets its name because it usually affects small dogs with white coats. Vets don't understand what causes white shaker dog syndrome, but they theorize that it might be related to inflammation in the brain tissue or infection of the brain. Here's what you should know about white shaker dog syndrome, its symptoms and its diagnosis.

Symptoms of White Shaker Dog Syndrome

White shaker syndrome usually strikes dogs between one and six years of age. Breeds with white hair coats are most susceptible to white shaker syndrome, hence the name.

Dogs with white shaker syndrome develop continuous and uncontrollable tremors. The tremors may be mild, or they may be so severe as to interfere with the dog's ability to walk and move. Dogs with white shaker syndrome don't appear to have any neurological disorders or medical conditions. The causes of white shaker syndrome remain a mystery.

Diagnosing White Shaker Syndrome

In order to diagnose white shaker syndrome, your vet will need to rule out other conditions that could cause uncontrollable, continuous tremors. Since the cause of white shaker syndrome remains unknown, there isn't any test that can diagnose it. Your vet will make the diagnosis only after he's ruled out all other conditions that could cause tremors. Such conditions include:

  • Nervous system disease or infection
  • Epilepsy
  • Poisoning or expose to toxins

Your vet may order a wide range of tests in the process of diagnosing white shaker syndrome. Blood tests, spinal taps and EKGs are all used to rule out the possibility that a known medical condition could be behind your dog's tremors.

Treating White Shaker Syndrome

Many dogs recover from white shaker syndrome on their own after a few weeks, without treatment of any kind. However, your vet might prescribe steroids, like prednisone, or sedatives like diazepam (Valium) to soothe the tremors associated with white shaker syndrome. Treatment with oral medications like these usually last about 12 weeks, and can be of great benefit in easing and resolving the symptoms of white shaker syndrome. However, even after your dog recovers from white shaker syndrome, he'll remain vulnerable to recurrent bouts of the illness.

You'll need to look after your dog with special care and attention while he's recovering from white shaker syndrome. Make sure food and water bowls are easy to reach and easy for your dog to eat and drink from, in spite of his constant tremors. 

Keep your dog calm and eliminate as much stress as possible from his environment while he's recovering from white shaker syndrome. Stress and excitement often make the tremors more severe. 

Your dog may not be able to enjoy his normal activities while he's recovering from white shaker dog syndrome. Normal activities like going for a walk or playing outside may be beyond him. Movement may be difficult for him and the excitement of new activities and surroundings may make his tremors worse.

While your dog is recovering from white shaker syndrome, try to keep him away from stairwells and areas with with uneven surfaces. His tremors affect his balance and ability to walk, and make him more vulnerable to falls.