Click here to visit the most complete Maltese site on the WWW
Please bear in mind when reading topics pertaining to health issues, that most of these questions were answered by helpful Maltese owners with no formal education in veterinary medicine. When in doubt seek a professionals advise.
Archived Message

White Dog Shakers
by Ken Leigh
White Dog Shakers "diseasWe have an 18 month old female white Maltese and recently she was diagnosed with "White Dog Shakers disease". The symptoms are an uncontrollable shaking (most noticeable shaking of the head) and very wobbly on her legs - mostly the back legs. The vet put her on cortisone tablets (one every second day) and it seems to have lessened her symptoms. Can anyone help me get more detailed information on this disease?Thank you - regards Ken and Dianne Leigh, Lamb Island, Australia


Ken, check the archives. I've seen this subject here before and I know you'll find a lot of information there.

Ken,My seven month old Maltese "Missie" is also suspected of having this problem. My Vet does not seem to know much about the causes and showed me an article for one of his text books which said Shaker Dog Syndrome affected "Young" dogs. It seems there are many different opinions. I am trying to find out as much as I can in order to make my Missie's quality of life better. If you have had any success with your treatment I would love to hear about it. This is a terrible disease and your first hand knowledge will be of great assistance in helping me and my Vet to give Missie the best care possible.
Hi Ken, I saw your post and had to answer. My dog had White Dog Shaker Syndrome last year. Firstly, the good news is it is a very treatable disease and not in itself life-threatening. I was very lucky--when it happened to Baby I went to the local University Vet Med Teaching Hospital and a Neurosurgeon from Africa caught it immediately, whereas my own vet was treating her for hypoglycemia, etc. The cortisone was what cured her. It was given in large doses and for a very long period of time. With proper treatment the shaking stopped completely within the first week and has not returned since. I will happily answer any questions that I can if you want to E-mail me directly. Otherwise, I know I have participated in all previous discussions of this disease and there is a lot of stuff in Archives. I do this because when Baby got sick and I posted the same query you did, no one answered. I was absolutely terrified at the time and so I always respond when this issue is posted. Good luck, try not to worry too much. It probably looks a lot worse than it is.
Thank you to everyone who replied. Our dog "Misty" has White Dog Shakers Syndrome and is on cortisone tablets. Recently she had four puppies (three of which survived) and it seems that the whole experience of puppies has taken a lot out of her. Today (four days after the birth) her white dog shakers syndrome symptoms are really noticeable. Has anyone any experience or knowledge of whether white dog shakers syndrome is hereditary or genetic - and likely to be passed on to her puppies???? Thank you. Ken Leigh. Australia
Ken Leigh
Maggie was diagnosed with White Dog Shaker Syndrome last Fall. She was put on prednisone(steroids). She received 20mg a day, 10 in the morning, and 10 at night. The vet said that we needed to hit the disease hard! Well, we did. Within a week, she had stopped shaking. Although she went into depression, and her hair started to fall out.(She has a beautiful hair now.) We didn't know what to do. She was always depressed, and she would have accidents all over our apartment. We learned to live with it. She was getting better. After two weeks of the 20 mg, she went down to 10 mg a day, and etc. When it came time to take her off the medicine, we had to take her off a little at a time. We weren't doing it right, and she went back to shaking again. We moved to Chicago and found a great Vet that had treated other dogs with this problem. He told us how to take her off, and she has been free of that medication since January 1. She is back to her normal self! It took a while, but she is all better. There is a 25% chance that she could get it again, but there is that 75% chance that she won't. We are hoping for the 75% chance. This is a disease that can be helped. It is scary, but Maggie is fine now, and your baby will be just fine too.
Jennifer & Maggie
I can't beleive what I just read, you bred a female who you knew had white dog shaker syndrom,why would you put her in such jepordy,are you trying to kill her and after the fact you ask if it is hereditery, if you don't know then you are saying lets bring some more into the world and let them suffer with this awful problem. This is why professional breeders who care about their dogs sell them with a spay/neuter contract, as I do, as people like you don't know what you are doing. Plase do not breed anymore.
>Whenever Maggie has this disease, the vet said that this was not something that was passed down from her mother or father. It is something that just happens and they don't know why. I am not saying that he was right or wrong, that is just what I was told. Good Luck!
Dear Ken: I'm sorry to hear that you little one is suffering with this syndrome. Hopefully she will be feeling better in a few weeks. I must say, and not in a spirit of judgement, that I'm a bit surprised that you bred her. Of course, you may have found out after the fact. I would encourage you to do as much research into the condition before you do any breeding. Please disclose to the families who provide homes to the puppies that the mother does in fact have this condition. Better yet, I would encourage you to consider not breeding her again, if for no other reason than to protect her from any further systems damage. Pregnancy places a stress on all the major body systems in people as well as animals. Besides it would be best to avoid passing on this disease to future generations. Again, I'm not posting in a spirit of admonishment, just out of concern for both your baby and her off-spring. I personally would want to be aware of any genetic possibilities prior to purchasing any animal. Thanks for hearing me out.
Thanks for the posting from Jennifer and Maggie. Missie has been on her medication now for two days and is terribly depressed. I was beginning to think there was something else wrong with her. It is wonderful to be able to draw on the experience of others who have been through this illness with their own little ones. Missie also has another problem that was picked up during her tests. The two top vertebrae in her spine are fused together. My Vet assures me she was born this way and it should not cause her too many problems. I am in constant contact with the people who bred Missie who requested to be advised of the test results as soon as I got them. As a result of Missie's problems they have decided to have their female neutered. This was a very responsible decision on their part and I appreciate their concern that no more pups are born with these problems. For my part, Missie cannot be neutered until we have stabilised her condition. However the Vet will give her an injection when the time is right to ensure we don't have any accidents. Missie is such a loving little dog and I would have loved her to have pups, but I could not bear to think that I would pass these problems onto someone else. I will just be grateful for Missie and leave it to others to breed healthy, happy Maltese.
Sharon Dale

Copyright 1998 © Jay Bianco All rights reserved.