The Leader in Maltese dog Discussions - ARCHIVED MESSAGE

White Shaker Dog Syndrome

After her first haircut, my 17 month Maltese, Lulu, started to shiver. That's nothing to cause alarm, after all, she had long hair, then suddenly she had no hair and it was fall in Oregon. Damp, and cold. After several days, I notice that her head wasn't actually "shivering" anymore, it started bobbing... like Parkinson's. I also realized that she was going and getting in her kennel (that she sleeps in only at night) quite a bit, when normally she would be playing like crazy after being behind a child gate all day. I knew something wasn't right. She was a strong, feisty, happy and extremely agile dog, not a timid, shaking lazy dog. What was going on? I called the groomer (who was also the breeder) and told her I was going to take her to the vet the next day, and needed to know if she fell off the table or was injured in any way - I needed to know because I feared she might possibly have a neurological condition or head injury of some sort. She assured me nothing at all happened. That night, the dog threw up. Cleaning it up, I noticed pieces of apple she ate 2 days prior. Now I was really concerned. Her gut seems to have gone on strike too. My heart sank.

The next day, we went to the Vet. He just didn't know what to think. Was it poisoning possibly? He looked in her eyes, and to him, she didn't seem to have signs of neurological disturbance. I brought her in for "observation" 3 days in a row. There was really nothing to do, other than giver her fluids, and try to feed her. Tested for lead poison... which took days to receive the results on, but in the meantime, gave her stuff to line her stomach and toxiban, just in case. Meanwhile, she wasn't eating, she was vomiting and in only about 30 hours her tremors became severe and she could barely walk. She had no balance at all, as if she was extremely drunk. Drunk with severe Parkinson's. This dog normally barked at every little noise, now she could care less what was happening outside or around her. She wouldn't get out of bed, and when she did, seemed to have no control over where she peed. Walking was such a chore that a few steps out of bed were often where she went to the bathroom. She didn't eat at all. I tried ALL the good stuff - no way. I started force feeding her liquid nutrient/calorie formula. In only a few days she had lost 20% of her body weight.

I was frantic by this point. I had been on the Internet night and day looking for hope in identifying her illness. Shaker Syndrome kept coming up in my searches, but it wasn't until I read someone else's story was I convinced. It was right on the money with Lulu's symptoms. Convinced it was Shaker Syndrome, I went to see a Neurologist. He knew immediately what it was. My Vet did suspect this at first, but their "textbook" description threw him off. She didn't have the head tilt or rapid eye movement, so he moved on to the poison theory. It was only after I paid $45 on a desperate Saturday night for a phone consultation with an ASPCA Toxicologist, who said it was NOT poisoning, that we suspected Shaker Syndrome. By writing this, I am hoping to help prevent another misdiagnosis and possibly a tragic unnecessary uthanasia. A simple prescription of Prednisone and an $80 Neurologist bill was all it took. Within 2 days the tremors were almost gone. It took about 4 days to start getting her balance back, and only about 1 day to start eating again. It's been 2 1/2 weeks now, and she's playing, running, barking, jumping on the couch and up in the window (barking at cats). The symptoms went away at about the exact same pace they came on. We had our follow up check up today, and he was very pleased with her progress. It was a completely different dog than he first saw. He adjusted the dose a bit today, because a slight tremor was coming back - common if the dose isn't just right - but other than that, she seems to be almost 100% again. I believe the Neurologist called it cerebellitis - the medical term for the actual condition. He prefers this over "White Shaker Dog Syndrome."


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