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Understanding White Shaker Dog Syndrome

I decided to write this blog post in the hope that it will help any dog owner who has a dog with this condition. White shaker dog syndrome first came to my attention when we brought our little Maltese puppy home. Everything was wonderful in the first couple of weeks, we loved the new addition to our household and revelled in the sheer joy that our new puppy brought, that was until one day she started shaking, it was like little tremors that affected her entire body, similar to when us humans get a chill and we shake for a few seconds til it passes, however, with our little Bella it didn't pass.

After a night of her shaking and the shaking getting worse, we immediately made an appointment and went to see our vet who diagnosed her with white shaker dog syndrome (WSDS). Apparently, it can be quite common in white dogs (although it can affect dogs of any colour), we had no idea, like most new dog parents.

Maltese Dog With Vet

This blog post delves into this syndrome, offering insights and support for dog owners navigating this sometimes confusing but ultimately treatable condition.

Recognising the Signs:

The most prominent symptom of WSDS is, unsurprisingly, tremors. These involuntary muscle contractions can range from mild shivers to severe shaking, often worsening with excitement, exercise, or stress. Other potential signs include:

  • Loss of coordination or balance
  • Difficulty walking or running
  • Head tremors
  • Nystagmus (rapid eye movements)
  • Seizures (in rare cases)

Diagnosis and Treatment:

If you notice any of these signs in your little white dog, consult your vet promptly. WSDS diagnosis typically involves a physical examination, neurological assessment and sometimes blood tests to rule out other potential causes. While there's no cure for WSDS, the good news is that it's manageable with the right treatment plan. This often includes:

  • Corticosteroids: These medications help suppress the immune system and reduce inflammation in the brain.
  • Diazepam: This anti-anxiety medication can help control tremors and calm your dog.
  • Lifestyle changes: Minimising stress and providing a calm environment are crucial for managing WSDS symptoms.

Management and Care:

Pet owners play a crucial role in managing dogs with White Shaker Dog Syndrome. This includes administering prescribed medications as directed by your veterinarian, monitoring the dog's overall health, and providing a safe and comfortable environment. Regular check-ups at your vet are essential to assess your dog's response to treatment and make any necessary adjustments.

Here are some tips for supporting your dog:

  • Prioritise a calm environment: Provide a quiet space for your dog to relax and minimise stressful situations.
  • Maintain a consistent routine: Sticking to a regular schedule for meals, walks, and playtime can help reduce anxiety.
  • Keep playtime gentle: Avoid roughhousing or overly stimulating activities that might exacerbate tremors.
  • Shower them with love and affection: This doesn't even need to be said, but, a strong bond between a dog and their human can do wonders for a dog's emotional wellbeing.

Living with a white shaker dog may require some minor adjustments, but the love and companionship these lovely dogs offer are worth every wag of their tail. By understanding WSDS, providing proper care, and showering them with love, you can ensure your little white shaker enjoys a happy and fulfilling life. In fact, our little Bella is 10 years old now, nothing stops her and she is as happy and healthy as she can be. She does have what the vet calls a 'maintenance dose' of Prednisone, half a tablet once a week and she is right as rain, you wouldn't even know she has the condition.

P.S. Remember, even though "white" is in the name, WSDS can affect dogs of any colour! The important thing is to be aware of the signs and symptoms so you can get your pup the help they need.

I hope this blog post has been helpful and informative. If you have any questions, please feel free to leave a comment below.

Disclaimer: This blog post is for informational purposes only and should not substitute for professional veterinary advice. Always consult your veterinarian if you have any concerns about your dog's health.

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