There are a number of rare diseases in which sensory and motor nerves degenerate. With loss of sensation and motor function, an affected dog does not feel the position of her limbs, is unable to position them correctly to prevent stumbling, and fails to withdraw a leg from a painful stimulus.
Neuropathy of German Shorthaired and English Pointers is first noted at 3 - 4 months of age. The pup with this sensory neuropathy begins to lick and bite at her paws, which become swollen, reddened, and ulcerated, and eventually mutilated. Loss of sensation can extend up the limb and involve the trunk. The mode of inheritance is autosomal recessive.
Dachshund sensory neuropathy begins in longhaired Dachshunds at 2 - 3 months of age. It is characterized by uncoordinated gait, urinary incontinence and loss of sensation over the entire body. Self-mutilation of the penis may be the first sign in males.
Global cell leukodystrophy is caused by an enzyme deficiency that results in degeneration of nerve cells. It occurs in West Highland White Terriers, Carin Terriers, Beagles, Pomeranians, and Poodles. Signs are unsteady gait, head tremors, nystagmus (a rythmic movement of the eyeballs), and blindness.
Scotty cramp is an autosomal recessive disease in Scottish Terriers where puppies show increased muscle tone when excited, stressed, or exercising vigorously. They show a stiff, hyper gait. Diazepam (Valium) helps, and most of these dogs can be comfortable pets.
Hypertrophic neuropathy in Tibetan Mastiffs begins at 7 - 12 weeks of age ans is characterized by hind-limb weakness that progresses to generalized weakness and ultimately, to an inability to stand. Some dogs maintain a degree of strength. This is an autosomal recessive disease.
Polyneuropathy in Alaskan Malamutes shows up at about 12 - 18 months of age. Initially, dogs show exercise intolerance but this can progress to paralysis. Some dogs may stabilize, but most dogs continue on a downward trend. Treatments have not been effective.
Hypomyelination diseases manifest when myelin, which forms a sheath around nerve fibers, is not completely developed at birth. The result is that nerve impulses are conducted very slowly. Hypomyelination occurs in Chow Chows, Weimaraners, Samoyeds, and Bernese Mountain Dogs. One form, called the shaking puppy syndrome, is a sex-linked recessive trait that affects only males.
The characteristic sign of hypomyelination is muscle tremors involving the limbs, trunk, head, and eyes of newborn puppies. The tremors get worse with activity and disappear with sleep. Severely affected puppies show uncoordinated body movements and are unable to stand. There is no cure for the disease. Tremors in Chow Chows are Weimaraners may improve gradually and disappear by 1 year of age.
Cause is dependent upon the condition.
The diagnosis is made by sensory and motor nerve conduction studies.
There is no cure, but because of the slow progression of the disease, some dogs live comfortably for many years.
There are no preventions for these conditions.
Please contact your veterinarian if you think your pet may have this condition.
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