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Shaking Dog – Causes, Diagnosis and Treatment

Shaking or tremors are rhythmic involuntary movements that occur during waking hours. There are several causes for tremors or shaking in dogs and they vary depending on which part of their body is affected.

If shaking occurs in the head then it might be due to abnormalities in the cerebellum, inflammation, vestibular diseases, drugs and trauma or due to some genetic causes. If the tremors or shaking occur in the rear limb or pelvic region then the causes might include pain, metabolic diseases like kidney failure, tumors or other lesions in the spine and neuromuscular diseases.  If dog trembling is generalized and the whole body is shaking then it might be due to toxins or degenerative neurologic diseases.

White shaker dog syndrome is a generalized shaking disorder that occurs mostly in small dogs. It was so called because this syndrome was first diagnosed in dogs with white coats. However, this syndrome is also found in different breeds of different colors. Dogs affected with this syndrome exhibit fine tremors throughout the body. Some of the other symptoms associated with this syndrome are abnormalities in the neurological system like head tilts, weakness in the limbs and seizures.

Dog shaking or shivering can also occur due to fear, excitement or anxiety, nervous energy or it can be just a reaction to cold.

Symptoms

Involuntary or abnormal shaking involved in your pet’s limbs, head or entire body. If the shaking or trembling persists for a long time it is strongly recommended to consult your vet as soon as possible. Repeated seizures that cause your dog to shake badly even for a few seconds needs immediate medical attention.

Diagnosis

Though dog trembling can be due to some harmless or common causes, it is advised to consult your vet to rule them out. General diagnosis might involve a good exam and a complete blood count check. Urinalysis and biochemical profile can also be recommended to rule out kidney diseases and metabolic disorders. If your vet suggests a consult from a neurologist then it might involve more tests including abdominal and chest X-rays. In certain cases even X-rays of the spine are recommended.

To diagnose tumors in the spine a Myelogram might be needed and a CT scan or an MRI might be recommended to diagnose structural disorders in the spine and brain. To confirm any neuromuscular disorders an EMG (Electromyelography) might be needed. A CSF or cerebrospinal fluid tap might be recommended to rule out inflammatory processes or encephalitis.

Treatment

Treatment that addresses both the primary and underlying causes is essential to cure dog tremors. Treatments for shaking dog are varied and can range from as simple as avoidance of excitement and exercises to more complicated treatments that might even include surgery in case of disc protrusions.
In some cases of generalized dog tremors, treatment involves prednisone or other type of corticosteroids which are given in high doses initially and then decreased gradually over a period of several months.

Precautions

Try to avoid exposing your dog to any toxins. One of the common symptoms for generalized dog shaking is weight loss and so, regular monitoring of your pet’s weight and appropriate diet changes can help to prevent not only tremors but also various other conditions.

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