White Dog Shaker Syndrome
isn't a very scientific name, but it describes the condition
Small white dogs (Maltese, West Highland white terriers, Bichon
Frise) can develop tremors for unexplained reasons that can be very
severe. These dogs usually have really bizarre eye movements and get
much worse when excited or stressed.
The usual treatment for this is to give diazepam (Valium Rx) to
control the tremors and prednisone because we don't know what else
Many (most?) of these dogs recover but there may be residual or
recurrent problems all of their lives. They can live with the
tremoring, even if it persists, in most cases. Keeping the house as
quiet as is reasonable, avoiding stress and excitement are helpful
for long term management.
Lead poisoning can look very much like this syndrome. So can
organophosphate poisoning and hypocalcemia (although that usually
occurs after giving birth to puppies). It is possible to rule out
these conditions through blood testing and the history of the case.
Obviously, if you didn't apply an organophosphate insecticide it
isn't too likely your dog was exposed, for example.
This is a pretty rare condition for most vets to see -- I have
been practicing 18 years and have only seen it once or twice.
Mike Richards, DVM