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What is Shaker Syndrome?

Shaker syndrome occurs suddenly in young, primarily small, primarily white dogs with no preference to gender. Several breeds have a higher occurrence of shaker syndrome: the Bischon Frise, Maltese, West Highland White Terrier, Poodle and Samoyed. The onset of shaker syndrome is marked by a full-body tremors that can be mild or severe; however, despite the appearance, a dog affected with shaker syndrome is likely not in pain and does not affect your dog’s personality.

Shaker syndrome, or white shaker disease syndrome, is a stress-related disorder occurring most commonly in small white dogs that causes incoordination, rapid eye movements and full-body muscle tremors. Shaker syndrome is form of idiopathic cerebellitis, or an inflammation of the cerebellum, which is the portion of the brain that regulates voluntary muscle movements.

Shaker Syndrome Average Cost

From 28 quotes ranging from $1,500 - $6,500

Average Cost

$2,500

Symptoms of Shaker Syndrome in Dogs

The symptom of shaker syndrome is the full-body tremor, often accompanied with random rapid eye movements. At the onset, severity of the tremors will increase for several days and then stabilize until your dog is treated. The tremors are intention tremors, which means they are worse when your dog becomes excited or is trying to execute a specific action, and they diminish or disappear when your dog is resting or relaxed.

At first, you may confuse the tremors with signs of hypothermia (low body temperature) or anxiety, particularly if you have a short-coated dog in winter, or a dog that has exhibited nervous shaking in the past. Additionally, tremors can also be a sign of other conditions of the nervous system, so it is important to identify tremors quickly and seek veterinary help as soon as possible.

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Causes of Shaker Syndrome in Dogs

The exact cause of shaker syndrome is not yet known; however, it is often associated with a mild central nervous system inflammation called nonsuppurative encephalomyelitis. It is not known is the inflammation is the cause of shaker syndrome, or if there is an unknown underlying cause of both. Because of the higher occurrence in certain breeds, there is likelihood that shaker syndrome is congenital.

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Diagnosis of Shaker Syndrome in Dogs

To aid the veterinarian in diagnosis, be sure to provide a thorough account of your dog’s health and behavioral history leading up to the onset of symptoms. The veterinarian will conduct a complete blood count, a biochemistry profile and a urinalysis and electrolyte panel. The results of these tests will be used to rule out other possible diagnosis. Additionally, the veterinarian will conduct a total physical examination.

A sample will be taken of your dog’s cerebrospinal fluid will be taken and sent to the laboratory for analysis of the nervous system and its function. The process of differential diagnosis will be used to rule out other possible causes, such as seizures, hypothermia, anxiety or fear.

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Treatment of Shaker Syndrome in Dogs

In severe cases, your dog may be hospitalized for stabilization, but treatment can often occur on an outpatient basis. Most dogs will respond promptly to immunosuppressive levels of corticosteroids, which have proven effective at suppressing the inflammatory response.

Additionally, tremors can be ameliorated with Valium to diminish anxiety and relax muscles.

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Recovery of Shaker Syndrome in Dogs

Most dogs recover within a week; while some dogs never recover. Corticosteroids will be gradually reduced until they are eliminated. Your dog may remain symptom-free, but if symptoms return, treatment will resume. Some days need to remain on corticosteroid treatment for long periods or the rest of their lives.

After diagnosis and initial treatment, you will need to schedule regular evaluations in order to monitor your dog’s recovery throughout the course of corticosteroid treatment. One reason for this is to monitor for adverse side affects, which include vomiting, gastrointestinal bleeding, diarrhea and ulcers.

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Shaker Syndrome Average Cost

From 28 quotes ranging from $1,500 - $6,500

Average Cost

$2,500

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Shaker Syndrome Questions and Advice from Veterinary Professionals

Need pet health advice? Ask a vet

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Ask a Vet

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Lucy

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Maltese

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16 Months

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Mild severity

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0 found helpful

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Mild severity

Has Symptoms

Head Shaking

I have a 16 mo old female Maltese. She seems to have White Dog Shaker Syndrome...head jerks... total body shakes... a few times a day.... more when I pick her up. Otherwise she seems fine. Plays well, eats well, sleeps well. What natural inflammatory is good and what dosage for a 2.5 lb dog?

Feb. 17, 2018

Lucy's Owner

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Dr. Michele K. DVM

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0 Recommendations

Thank you for your email. Without examining Lucy and being able to assess her neurologic function, I can't diagnose or recommend any medications for her. It would be best to have her examined by a veterinarian to determine that that is what is going on, and if so, get any recommendations for possible treatments for her, if any are needed. I hope that everything goes well for her.

Feb. 17, 2018

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Toby

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Maltese

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1 Year

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Moderate severity

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1 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Moderate severity

Has Symptoms

Shaking

Our year and a half old white Terrier/Maltese mix Toby was just diagnosed with Shaker Syndrome yesterday. He had an initial Steroid shot and Valium along with a prescription for both in pills prescribed. This was done at the Emergency clinic and we have not been to our Vet. He is responding well and does very good when not under any stimulus. My question is should I talk to the Dr. about CBD? I would also like your opinion on the oil for him.

Jan. 15, 2018

Toby's Owner

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Dr. Michele K. DVM

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1 Recommendations

Thank you for your email. Without examining him, I can't comment on what medications might be recommended for him, but I'm not sure that CBD oil would be helpful for his condition? Shaker syndrome doesn't tend to be a painful condition, and it isn't really a seizure condition either, so I'm not sure of the usefulness of the oil in his situation. If you want to talk with your veterinarian about it, they may have a different opinion than mine after they've been able to examine him. I hope that he does well.

Jan. 15, 2018

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Trouper

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Bischon

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7 Years

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Mild severity

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2 found helpful

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Mild severity

Has Symptoms

Twiching

My dog starting having twichtes that seem to effect his upper body and head the most a week ago. Took him to the vet who did say he had an ear infection and was put on meds. She said that if the twichtes continuedo it could be "white shaker sysdrome". From what I have read about this sysdrome, I am not sure his issue fits the bill. I just want to know if maybe there could be another issue. He doesn't shake all the time. Seems worse when he is relaxing. He is getting around, ok. Not his normal level, but doesn't seem to be in pain. He has become a bit more attached to me and want to cuddle alot. I am unaware of any trama or him getting into anything. So, is shaker sysdrome the most likely possiblablity, or could there be something else?

Jan. 5, 2018

Trouper's Owner

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2 Recommendations

White shaker syndrome is a possibility, but other possible conditions need to be ruled out first which may include head trauma, poisoning, spinal disorders, tumours, infections, liver or kidney disease among other causes; once other causes have been ruled out, treatment can be started to look for a response to treatment. Discuss your concerns with your Veterinarian and they will be able to explain their diagnosis which may make you more comfortable. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM

Jan. 5, 2018

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Jack

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West highland terrier

dog-age-icon

3 Years

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Mild severity

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1 found helpful

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Mild severity

Has Symptoms

Head Trembling

I have a 3 year old westie. He is allergic and takes apoquel daily. About a year ago, during winter,we saw his head shaking not very severe but constant; he was aware and didint seem to have any pain or disconfort. It happened a few times within a couple if months and then it dessapered. Today, a year or more later, we've noticed tremmors again on his head, as per before he was totally aware, responsive and seemed painless. It tends to stop when I hold his head, but they can come back after. 3 weeks ago we gave him his yearly vaccines and did a blood test and everything was good. What could it be? Should I worry? Thanks,

Dec. 14, 2017

Jack's Owner


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1 Recommendations

Head tremors may occur for various reasons and many times the cause is unknown, you should have your Veterinarian examine Jack to look for any signs of injury or pathology especially in the neck and back. Sometimes a cause cannot be identified; but cervical vertebral instability is a common cause since shaker syndrome is a more general tremor. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM

Dec. 14, 2017

Hi there our little Molly also a Westy has the same sort of thing going on only in the head we had taken her to our vet and after bloods coming back with no known answer to her head shaking they had said maybe it is Idiopathic Tremor Syndrome, but have not given any drugs or answers, they just gave me a web site to look up that’s why I have been looking into this further as it’s a worry to us, have you found out any more about, Jack problem ? Kind Regards Tracey

April 18, 2018

Tracey C.

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Amber

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Shihpoo

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11 years 7 months

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Moderate severity

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1 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Moderate severity

Has Symptoms

My shihpoo is almost 12 and shakes constantly as if she's cold. No other symptoms with any other body parts. She is white in color. My vet has always called it small white shaker dog syndrome, but nothing has ever been done about it. She is 11 lbs. This worries me. However, she has never been sick. Please give me your opinion, as her age is my concern. I thought this was only in very young dogs. Thanks!

Nov. 29, 2017

Amber's Owner

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1 Recommendations

White shaker syndrome generally presents with symptoms by two or three years of age although this may vary depending on the textbook. Other possible causes may be attributable to toxins, infections, head trauma, neck injuries among other issues; a complete examination along with blood tests and possibly muscle biopsy would be required to hone in on a diagnosis. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM

Nov. 29, 2017

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Shaker Syndrome Average Cost

From 28 quotes ranging from $1,500 - $6,500

Average Cost

$2,500

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