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Ask Dr. Michael Salkin Your Own Question
Dr. Michael Salkin
Dr. Michael Salkin, Veterinarian
Category: Dog Veterinary
Satisfied Customers: 29738
Experience:  University of California at Davis graduate veterinarian with 45 years of experience
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She has recently started trembling. I think it was day before

Customer Question

She has recently started trembling. I think it was day before yesterday when it started. She has never done this before. She is a miniature schnauzer, weighs 12 lbs and is 3 years old. She has been spade, has all her immunizations. Everything else appears normal. Stools and urine are normal. She is eating normal. She abdominal muscles become very tight when she starts trembling. She does not appear cold and usually does not like blankets over her. She has a super thick coat. I am at a loss as to what may be wrong with her.
JA: I'm sorry to hear that. What is the dog's name?
Customer: Maggie
JA: Is there anything else important you think the Veterinarian should know about Maggie?
Customer: I can't think of anything. She is walked outside on a leash, never left to just run free. She is very pampered. I have also noticed over the past month that her little white beard looks brown and it is very hard to clean if not impossible. She does lick her feet a lot, and they look brown also. She primary black with a very small amount of white. She is feed Blue Buffalo dry food, grain free.....has never had any issues with that.
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: Dog Veterinary
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
What happened to my answer?
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Am I going to get a response?
Expert:  Dr. Michael Salkin replied 1 year ago.

I'm sorry that your question wasn't answered in a timely manner. My moderator asked that I address your question which I'm pleased to do. Trembling may represent both behavioral (anxiety, fear) and medical disorders. Because she's otherwise normal, an idiopathic (unknown cause) tremor syndrome should be considered. This is a brain disorder that causes spontaneous generalized tremors and is responsive to immunosuppressive doses of corticosteroids. Caretakers typically notice an acute onset of a fine, whole-body tremor that often worsens with exercise, stress, and excitement and lessens with rest or sleep. The course of the disease is nonprogressive.

The most notable finding is a fine, whole-body tremor in young (less than 5 years) and small breeds (less than 30 lbs). Additional but uncommon findings may include poor menace responses (poor response to "attacking the eyes" with your fingers), head tilt, nystagmus (eyes flicking back and forth), paresis (weakness), tetraparesis (all four legs involved), ataxia ("drunken sailor"), seizure activity, and an elevated body temperature. The goal of treatment is to eliminate tremors and is achieved mainly with corticosteroids such as prednisone though diazepam can also be used. If tremors return when therapy is complete, they're typically mild and associated with excitement.

Please let Maggie's vet know what you're seeing. I would expect her vet to want to perform a thorough physical and neurologic exam on Maggie. Maggie might be referred to a specialist veterary neurologist as can be found here: www.acvim.org/ Please respond with further questions or concerns if you wish.

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Sorry, I do not think it is behavioral. She has never done this before. Now, just tonight, she has started yelping out in pain when I pick her up. Her belly muscles are very tense. She has had a BM x 2 yesterday and x 1 today. No vomiting and she has been eating and drinking. I am now wondering is she is having pain some where. She will yelp when I pick her up of move her slightly while she is standing on her feet. I am considering taking her to the Emergency Vet.
Expert:  Dr. Michael Salkin replied 1 year ago.

I agree with you. Thank you for the additional information. A painful medical disorder should be considered. Vocalizing when lifted and abdominal tensing is strongly suggestive of back pain such as is seen with degenerative disk disease (a "slipped disk") in a 3 year old miniature breed.

Supportive evidence of a disk may include vocalizing when approached or lifted, having trouble jumping up or down and navigating steps, ataxia (“drunken sailor”), trembling/shaking (pain responses), a change in posture such as the neck held rigidly and head lower to the ground or a"hunch" in his back, and a change in behavior - a normally social dog becoming aloof or, conversely, a normally aloof dog becoming "clingy". Maggie's vet will want to carefully palpate (feel) about your dog's spine looking for areas of hyperpathia (increased sensitivity) suggestive of a disk. Conservative care involves the use of a nonsteroidal antiinflammatory drug (NSAID) such as carprofen or meloxicam, a narcotic analgesic such as tramadol, and a skeletal muscle relaxant such as methocarbamol or diazepam. These drugs are usually administered for at least ten days. Most simple disks will remiss within a few weeks. It's important to keep these dogs as quiet as possible lest they hurt themselves further.

Should paresis (weakness) or paralysis arise in any limb(s), she'll need the attention of her vet at your earliest convenience. Such dogs are then surgical candidates for spinal cord decompression. Please respond with further questions or concerns if you wish.