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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 the simple “nervousness” that a dog may feel when introduced to someone new or a new animal. In such cases, nervousness and shaking might be expected, provided it’s not too extreme and subsides within an “acceptable” time.


In this article, we want to talk about an actual “medical” condition that causes your dog 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, causing 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 when the condition takes place in the cerebellum, which is the area of the brain that controls voluntary muscle movement. Shaker syndrome commonly affects adult dogs between the ages of one and six, with 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 earthquakes, one would think that it would be both stressful and painful for the dog, but it doesn’t seem to cause the dog any pain or affect its personality.

Symptoms Associated with Shakers Syndrome

The main symptom of shaker syndrome (white dog shaker syndrome) is full-body shaking, often observed together with rapid eye movements. In the beginning, the severity of the tremors will steadily get worse over several days and then stabilize until you gain your dog veterinary treatment. The tremors are called intention tremors, which means that the tremors get worse when your dog gets both excited or attempting to perform a specific action. With this, the tremors decrease or stop altogether when the dog relaxes or rests.

Now, when your…

Dog first exhibits tremors, which may be confused with 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.

Other possible symptoms include:

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

Remember that tremors or shaking can also be a sign of other nervous system conditions, so it is essential, 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 unknown, it has been associated with nonsuppurative encephalomyelitis, a mild central nervous system inflammation. At this point, it is unknown whether this inflammation might cause Shaker syndrome or whether there is still an unknown underlying cause of both of these diseases since certain breeds seem to show a higher occurrence of Shaker syndrome. This would mean it could be congenital, meaning it is inherited.

Most Commonly Affected Breeds

While white shaker syndrome (tremor syndrome) hasn’t been limited to specific breeds, some small breeds 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 entire history in diagnosing your dog, which will include any behavior leading up to the onset of the shaking. The veterinarian will then 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 identify 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 another possible diagnosis. In addition to these tests, your veterinarian will also want to conduct a complete physical examination.

Next, your veterinarian…

You 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 to get an analysis of the nervous system, and how it is functioning.

This differential diagnosis process is used 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 severe Shaker syndrome, they may need to be hospitalized for stabilization. Otherwise, treatment can occur on an outpatient basis. In most cases of dogs with Shaker syndrome, the veterinarian will prescribe immunosuppressive levels of corticosteroids. Corticosteroids have proven effective at suppressing the inflammatory response that causes shaking in dogs.


Valium has been found to decrease the tremors and 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 must watch for possible adverse side effects, including vomiting, diarrhea, ulcers, and gastrointestinal bleeding.

Which brings us to…

We want to remind folks that we at IndulgeYourPet are not doctors, veterinarians, or medical professionals. We are all a bunch of folks passionate about animals and only want what’s best for them. If you feel your pet may have shaker syndrome (or any other health issue), you’ll want to have them checked out by a vet ASAP!


An early diagnosis will often lead to the “best” medical outcome for your pet regardless of what is bothering them, 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 broad 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 also 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 suitable 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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