How is white shaker dog syndrome diagnosed?
Original Question: My Maltese cross was diagnosed with White Shaker syndrome, but all of the articles I'm reading say that the symptoms last for days. Carly's episodes last just minutes. She'll lose her balance (usually lifting one or both legs on one side and falling over), get stiff, shiver, and usually licks her lips a lot, or pants and drools. The episodes last between 5 and 30 minutes, and then she's fine. Occasionally, she will have an episode a day or two apart, but usually it's weeks or months between. She is 7 years old, and has had them as long as we've had her, just over 2 years. Does this match with a mild case, or should we get a second opinion? The vet said that she doesn't need to take steroids because they happen so infrequently. Thanks! - Holly
Thanks for your question.
It would not be responsible for me to try and diagnose or direct the treatment of a patient through a message service such as this. The symptoms you are describing are serious so my strong advice is to work with a veterinarian to develop a treatment plan. Having said that, there are a few thoughts I can share with you.
Diagnosing white shaker dog syndrome is uncommon. It can manifest in many different ways so there is no way for me to know if this is a reasonable diagnosis. Furthermore, as far as I know, there is not a diagnostic test that confirms its presence. The diagnosis is made based on signalment, history and visible clinical signs. It leads me to consider other possible disease states that could cause the clinical symptoms that you detail in your question. These symptoms can be caused by other conditions such as general seizures/epilepsy, neurological infection, toxin ingestion, degenerative nerve conditions and others. The fact that you are witnessing symptoms on a daily basis is concerning and I would recommend that you seek another opinion on the threshold of clinical impairment present to warrant treatment. For example, if these neurological events are actually seizures, most veterinarians would agree that the frequency would support the initiation of an active treatment plan.
My recommendation is to visit a veterinary neurologist. White shaker dog syndrome is uncommon. I’ve seen one confirmed case in 15 years. Since the diagnosis is made largely on history and a physical exam, I think you should have a veterinary neurologist offer an opinion about the diagnosis. They are the practitioners that see the uncommon cases on a routine basis and are much more experienced and equipped to confirm a diagnosis and ensure that there is not another concurrent or underlying condition present.
Thanks and good luck.
Dr. Clayton Greenway
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