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Dogs/Schnauzer Shakes and Whines


My mini-schnauzer starts shaking, whining and wants me to pick him up.  This happens periodically at different times of the day.  It seems as if he hears something that 'spooks' him, and he wants to be next to me or to be held.  These last anywhere from 5 - 20 minutes and he has had around 10 attacks over a 6 month period.  He also licks the front of his paws/legs.  I have spoken to my vet who recommended Adaptil, a diffuser that is supposed to calm his anxiety.  She was frank that it works 50% of the time and I decided to try it rather than medicate.  It has helped to reduce the frequency of the shaking but not the paw licking.  My question is - what should I do while he is shaking?  I have been holding him tight and patting him on the chest which seems to eventually calm him (although it's hard to tell if it's me helping or if he just gets over it).  I've tried distraction but that doesn't work (such as throwing a toy or giving a treat - he just looks at me like he's terrified and ignores the treat/toy).  Also, is there anything that can be done with the paw-licking?  He is regularly groomed and does not lick until he harms himself which is good - it's more of an annoyance for him I suppose.  Thanks in advance for your help.

Hi Melanie,

Thank you for contacting me about your mini-schnauzer.  Has your vet determined that this is emotional with no medical basis? My first thought after reading your email was petite mal seizures.  Please mention this to her.

DAP defusers do not work as well as DAP collars...if you get one, only get the Adaptil.  The others are infused with a horrible toxic perfume.  You can also try some calming herbs.  I use TranQuil and Pro-Quiet for my dog's anxiety.  I also give her a supplement called L-Theanine which is calming.  If the herbs do not work I would move on to Prozac or Xanax.  I was recently boarding a dog with separation anxiety. We finally had to ask the vet for Xanax and it made a huge difference.

WebMD describes shaking in small dogs as :

"Generalized Tremor Syndrome (GTS). GTS is also called steroid responsive tremor syndrome or white shaker dog syndrome. First noticed in small, white dogs such as Maltese and West Highland white terriers, it can occur in dogs of any size, breed, or color. No one knows what causes GTS.

GTS symptoms usually start between 9 months and 2 years of age. Treatment generally consists of corticosteroids like prednisone. Results can often be seen within a week of starting treatment."

I would start with herbal and natural supplements and acupuncture if this is the cause of your dog's shivering.  

It's important to determine if the shaking is due to emotional or medical factors so you can move forward with a plan of action.  Did your vet do a full blood workup?  Thyroid. Hypoglycemia?  The most important thing you can do is a full blood panel.  If an emotional approach doesn't work, the next step would be to see a neurologist.  However, the blood panel will give you a lot of important information and eliminate potential causes.

The paw licking could be anxiety or it could be allergies to his food or vaccinations.  

I wish you all the very best,

Shelley Davis

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Shelley Davis


Cageless Country Boarding, Holistic Health Concerns, Behavorial Concerns.


Crusader in the founding of Dog Runs in NYC Parks, instrumental in changing the law in NY State which allows Pet Facilitate Therapy into Acute Care Hospitals, accomplished artist and craftsperson, certified by Red Cross in pet first aid, pioneer in Children Reading To Dogs program in Ulster Co. NY, founder of Bed & Biscuit:Where Dogs Run Free,

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