What Does Shaking in Cocker Spaniels Mean?

Epilepsy is common in cocker spaniels.
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Watching your beloved cocker spaniel shake or tremble is a scary experience. Cocker spaniels are predisposed to certain conditions that cause shaking. Some are treatable, some are not. Take your pet to the vet as soon as possible, even if the shaking stops. A cocker spaniel's shaking could denote a serious illness.


According to the California-based Mar Vista Animal Medical Center, cocker spaniels are among the breeds most likely to suffer from seizure disorder, known as epilepsy if a specific cause can't be found. The intensity of seizures vary. While a grand mal seizure involves stiffening of the body, along with loss of consciousness and bodily functions, psychomotor seizures can involve brief periods of trembling or shaking. If your cocker spaniel experiences frequent seizures, your vet can prescribe medication for seizure suppression.

Lysomal Storage Disease

Young cocker spaniels might be affected with a genetic condition known as lysomal storage disease, resulting from a lack of enzymes affecting the central nervous system. While puppies appear fine at birth, they soon fall behind their littermates developmentally. While the type of enzyme deficiency varies, nearly all affected puppies experience tremors and lack of coordination. Other symptoms include vision loss, behavioral changes, weakness and difficulty swallowing. Unfortunately, there is no cure for lysomal storage disease and dogs usually die within six months of the onset of symptoms.

Multi-System Neuronal Degeneration

If you've got a shaking, red cocker spaniel, there's a chance he suffers from a rare disease known as multi-system neuronal degeneration. The cocker spaniels known to have inherited this disorder all came from a common ancestor. Symptoms include tremors, behavioral changes, hyperactivity, lack of coordination, aggression and extreme anxiousness. Affected dogs develop symptoms around the age of 1 year. There is no treatment for this disease, and euthanasia is generally recommended.

Other Causes

It's quite possible that your cocker spaniel shakes because of a condition not specifically related to his breed. Shaking can be a sign of poisoning, always a veterinary emergency. Shaker dog syndrome was first diagnosed in small, white dogs, but can affect any canine. Your vet can prescribe steroids to stop the tremors, which dogs generally outgrow. If your older cocker spaniel starts shaking, it could be a sign of kidney disease. Your vet performs blood and urine tests as part of the diagnosis. Elderly dogs often develop leg tremors. Your vet might be able to prescribe medication that gives relief.

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