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Shaker Syndrome in dogs… Symptoms, expectations and costs!

When we talk about “shaker syndrome” we don’t want folks to confuse it with simple “nervousness” that a dog may feel when introduced to someone new or a new animal.  In cases like these, being nervous and shaking might be completely normal provided that it’s not too extreme and it subsides within an “acceptable” amount of time.


In this article, we actually want to talk about an actual “medical” condition which causes your dog to begin to “shake” uncontrollably.  So, without further ado, let’s dive right in.

Shaker Syndrome defined

Shaker syndrome (white shaker dog syndrome) is believed to be a stress-related disorder that causes a lack of coordination, the whole body to tremble and rapid eye movements.  Scientifically speaking, shaker syndrome is known to be a form of idiopathic cerebellitis, where idiopathic means unknown origin and cerebellitis is to inform that the condition takes place in the cerebellum which is the area of the brain that controls the voluntary muscle movement. Shaker syndrome commonly affects adult dogs between the ages of one and six year’s old, symptoms often appearing when a dog is a puppy.

This disorder is…

Distinguished by full-body tremors which can be mild or severe. Watching the tremors, one would think that it would be both stressful and painful for the dog but it doesn’t seem to actually cause the dog any pain or affect their personality.

Symptoms associated with shakers syndrome in dogs

The main symptom of shaker syndrome (white dog shaker syndrome) is full-body shaking which is often observed together with rapid eye movements.

In the beginning…

The severity of the tremors will steadily get worse over several days and then they will stabilize until you get your dog veterinary treatment. The tremors are called an intention tremor which means that the tremors get worse when your dog gets both excited or your dog is attempting to perform a specific action. With this the tremors then decrease or stop altogether when the dog becomes relaxed or is resting.

Now when your…

Dog first exhibits the tremors they will possibly be confused with being one of the possible clinical signs of hypothermia (a condition in which the body temperature becomes dangerously low) or anxiety.  This is often the case if you have a short-coated dog during the winter or if your dog has displayed nervous shaking in the past.

Other possible symptoms include:

  • Spontaneous eye movements,
  • Poor coordination,
  • And trouble walking.

Keep in mind that…

Tremors, or shaking, can also be a sign of other nervous system conditions, so it is extremely important, for your dog’s sake that you seek veterinary help as soon as possible.

Causes of shakers syndrome in dogs

While the exact cause of shaker syndrome is not yet known, it has been associated with nonsuppurative encephalomyelitis, which is a mild inflammation of the central nervous system.

At this point…

It is not yet known whether this inflammation might be the cause of shaker syndrome or whether there is still a yet unknown underlying cause of both of these diseases, since certain breeds seem to show a higher occurrence of getting shaker syndrome.  This would mean that it could be congenital, which would mean that it is inherited.

Affected Breeds

While white shaker syndrome (tremor syndrome) hasn’t been limited to specific breeds, but there are some small breeds that appear to have a higher rate of occurrence.  The dog breeds that appear to have a predisposition to shaker syndrome include;

Diagnosis of shakers syndrome in dogs

Your veterinarian will need to have your dog’s full history in diagnosing your dog which will include any, and all, behavior leading up to the onset of the shaking. The veterinarian will the conduct a complete blood count, a biochemistry profile (a blood test that is done in dogs to assess the functioning of the internal organs by measuring the electrolytes, like blood potassium, and then identifies what the levels are of enzymes that are circulating), a urinalysis, and an electrolyte panel.

With the results…

Of all of these tests in hand, your veterinarian will be able to rule out other possible diagnosis.  In addition to these tests your veterinarian will also want to conduct a complete physical examination.

Next your veterinarian…

Will likely want to get a sample of your dog’s cerebrospinal fluid (CSF); most often done by a lumbar puncture or a spinal tap (in which your dog is put under general anesthesia and the veterinarian takes a sample of CSF from the spinal cord), which will then need to be sent to a laboratory in order to get an analysis of the nervous system, and how it is functioning.

This process of…

Differential diagnosis is used in order to rule out other potential causes for the tremors, including the diagnosis of seizures hypothermia, fear, and anxiety.

Treatment of shakers syndrome in dogs

When your young dog has a severe case of shaker syndrome they may need to be hospitalized for stabilization otherwise treatment is able to occur on an outpatient basis. In the majority of cases of dogs with shaker syndrome the veterinarian will prescribe immunosuppressive levels of drugs called corticosteroids.  Corticosteroids have proven effective at suppression of the inflammatory response that causes the shaking in the dogs.


Valium has been found to decrease the tremors and by decreasing the level of anxiety that the dog feels which in turn relaxes the muscles. Your veterinarian will gradually reduce the use of corticosteroids but if symptoms reoccur treatment will resume. In some cases, the dog will need corticosteroids for long spans for the rest of their lives.

After your dog is…

Initially diagnosed and treated, regular evaluations will be necessary to monitor your dog throughout the treatment of the corticosteroids. This is necessary because your veterinarian will need to watch for possible adverse side effects including; vomiting, diarrhea, ulcers, and gastrointestinal bleeding.

Which brings us to…

Were we like to remind folks that we here at IndulgeYourPet are not doctors, veterinarians or medical professionals.  All we are is a bunch of folks who just happen to be passionate about animals and only want what’s best for them.

This is why…

If you feel like your pet may have shaker syndrome (or any other health issue for that matter) the first thing that you’re going to want to do is have him or her check out by a vet ASAP!


The truth is, an early diagnosis will often lead to the “best” medical outcome for your pet regardless of what is bothering him or her, but beyond that diagnosing a medical condition early could save you a bundle in medical costs!

Cost of treating shakers syndrome in dogs

The average cost of shaker syndrome is $1,500-$6,500 which we know is quite a wide spectrum to be talking about, but ultimately your cost will depend on the severity of your dog’s condition and the treatment needed.

This is why…

We here at IndulgeYourPet also recommend that any new pet owner take a moment and see what it might cost for you to purchase a pet insurance policy for your new animal.

Now will a pet insurance policy be right for everyone?

No, probably not.  But until you fully understand what these policies “will” and “won’t” cover and how much these pet insurance policies cost, how will you know if one might be right for you?

For more information on who we feel currently offers the “best” pet insurance policies out there, we would encourage you to check out our Best Pet Insurance Policies article.

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