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American Maltese Association

A National Breed and Member club of the American Kennel Club

White Shaker Dog Syndrome

Written by: 
Vicki Fierheller

White Shaker Dog Syndrome, also known as idiopathic cerebellitis, is a rare, strange affliction that causes generalized tremors in young dogs (9 months to 3 years old). It occurs predominantly in small white dogs, although it is seen in non-white coated breeds as well.

The condition tends to be sudden onset, with the dog suddenly developing shaking or tremors that can be mild to severe enough that the dog has difficulty walking. It usually worsens with excitement or stress and lessens with rest. Nystagmus (darting eye movement) is often seen.

The cause has not been determined, but it may be due to an inflammation in the brain or may be autoimmune-induced, causing a deficiency of neurotransmitters.

There is some speculation that it could be an ultra mild form of Maltese Encephalitis (GME), but thankfully, is easily treated.

Treatment usually involves glucocorticoids (e.g., prednisone) and possibly diazepam (Valium) if the symptoms are severe. The prognosis for recovery is very good. Overall, most dogs recover quickly and completely with no ill effects. Occasionally some dogs may relapse and some may require a low dose of corticosteroids to keep the clinical symptoms at bay.

Since the cause is unknown, it is best not to breed dogs that have had an incidence of White Shaker Dog Syndrome.

Health Catagory: 
Neurological System
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