Your little bichon frise's just a white bundle of joy. Her happy disposition and sunny countenance brighten your life. That's why it's especially scary if she trembles or shakes for no apparent reason. Narrowing down the cause helps you and your vet decide on treatment options.
Bichon Frise Health
The bichon frise, the canine that puts the "companion" into "companion dog," is generally a healthy breed. Odds are good that your best friend can live into her mid-teens or longer. They might develop some of the problems that generally plague small dogs, such as dental issues from too many teeth in a small mouth or slipped kneecaps. There are certain conditions that cause tremors in the breed, which might be hereditary. Before adopting a puppy, ask if the parents ever experienced shaking or tremors.
White Shaker Dog Syndrome
Little white dogs, like guess who, are prone to white shaker dog syndrome. The cause of the shaking isn't known, but it affects small dogs, generally white, between the ages of one and seven years old. The name describes the syndrome—they're white and they shake or tremble for no apparent reason. The tremors range from mild to severe, but the dogs don't lose consciousness. Your vet conducts tests to rule out other afflictions. Prednisone stops the shaking. Many dogs stop shaking after taking the medication for two months, although relapse can occur.
The tremors you see in your bichon could be mild seizures due to epilepsy. If your dog experiences a serious seizure, known as a grand mal seizure, she'll lose control of her legs, clamp her jaws, froth at the mouth, convulse and fall over. That's pretty dramatic, as well as frightening, but if she has a petit mal seizure she might just tremble or seem slightly disoriented. To diagnose epilepsy, your vet performs neurological tests, such as an ultrasound. Prescribing phenobarbital for your dog can help prevent seizures. Since epilepsy is often inherited, don't breed your bichon if she's diagnosed with this disease.
Although quite rare, tremors in bichons could result from bichon dyskinesia, also known as involuntary movement disorder. It looks like a seizure, but it's another type of neurological problem. The dog might suddenly appear "hunchbacked" and hyperflex her legs. If she tries to move, she appears completely uncoordinated. The episode is over in seconds, with the dog apparently back to normal. However, she might have repeated instances throughout the day. The Bichon Frise Club of America advises you to video your dog during one of these occurrences, since she's almost certainly not going to do it when you take her to the vet. Since it's such an unusual condition, you might want to inform your vet about it when you bring your dog in for evaluation.
- Bichon Frise Club of America: A Comparison of Bichon Dyskinesia, White Dog Shaker Syndrome and Epilepsy
- VetInfo: White Shaker Dog Syndrome Symptoms
- Embrace Pet Insurance: Shaker Syndrome
- Bichon Frise Club of America: Involuntary Movement Disorder (Bichon Dyskinesia)
- VetInfo: Shaking Dog Syndrome
- VetInfo: Epilepsy in Dogs
Jane Meggitt has been a writer for more than 20 years. In addition to reporting for a major newspaper chain, she has been published in "Horse News," "Suburban Classic," "Hoof Beats," "Equine Journal" and other publications. She has a Bachelor of Arts in English from New York University and an Associate of Arts from the American Academy of Dramatics Arts, New York City.