White Shaker Dog Syndrome In Westies – Causes & Treatments

West Highland TerrierOwning a pet with a medical condition is scary. And even certain breeds are more susceptible to diseases, both genetic and transferable. It’s important to research what your favorite or prospective breeds are most likely to suffer from or catch from their environment. West Highland Terriers are one of the breeds most susceptible to suffer from White Shaker Dog Syndrome, a canine health issue that impacts small dogs and in particular those with white coats. Other breeds that commonly suffer from this syndrome are Bichon Frise, Malteses and Poodles.

While not confined to small dogs, this genetic condition also affects large dogs that also have white coats, like the Great Pyrenees breed. White Shaker Dog Syndrome is recognized from the generalized tremors that occur throughout their entire bodies. It mostly occurs in young dogs, from nine months to three years old, and equally between males and females. Made worse from excitement or other stimuli, the tremor may occur regularly and without regard to the dog’s activity. Other symptoms include neurological abnormalities like jerking; limb weakness and even seizures have been documented. More often than not, a dog is not suffering mentally or physically while it’s going through tremors. However, it will be important to observe these tremors and report them to your vet.

Due to its name, it’s easy to assume that White Shaker Dog Syndrome only occurs within dog breeds with white coats. While that is mostly true, its basic cause is not fully understood. Some veterinarians have proposed that it is related to melatonin levels but other dog breeds like Miniature Pinschers and Yorkshire Terriers suffer from this problem as well.

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A common theory is that White Shaker Dog Syndrome disease is connected to a minor central nervous system infection or inflammation. The infection or inflammation would most likely occur in the cerebellum, a part of the brain, which would explain the uncontrollable muscle spasms. To determine if this is the root cause of your pet’s health issues, your vet should conduct a test of your pet’s brain or spinal fluids to verify before proceeding with treatment. This means that the root problem of this disease can be treated with conventional medicine – it can be managed, not necessarily cured.

Your veterinarian will need to provide a diagnosis before proceeding with any treatments and they will be able to recognize White Shaker Dog Syndrome early on in a dog’s symptoms. It’s important to note a pet’s symptoms will not disappear unless treated. A common method of treatment is to use corticosteroids, which are a family of chemicals that are naturally produced within the body and often covered by pet insurance. These treatments are usually effective, in large dosages in the beginning stages of treatment, which is then reduced as signs of improvement begin to emerge. Please pay attention to your veterinarian’s suggestions and continued recommendations as you proceed with medical treatment. While corticosteroids are naturally occurring in the body, don’t disregard dosing recommendations as an excess can adversely impact your pet’s health.

Commonly, a dog’s health is restored or improved after three to six months of corticosteroid treatments. Of course, not every animal’s case is the same so don’t worry if your pet doesn’t respond as this article outlines. Your veterinarian will be able to better predict what will work based on your pet’s current health profile.

Similar to many canine health problems, it is recommended that you get any health issue treated early. A veterinarian will be able to recognize health issues before they spread or cause serious issues or side effects. Even if your pet will need lifelong care, which is not common, you will be able to better their life by paying attention early and seeking medical attention from your veterinarian and pet insurance.

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