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208 Breeds, 422 Health Conditions  |  Find a Vet

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Wobbler Syndrome

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Condition Overview

Wobbler Syndrome is a disease that results from compression of the spinal cord in the neck. The compression is caused by vertebral instability related to either a malformed cervical vertebrae or a ruptured Hansen Type 2 neck disc.

Symptoms

The principal sign of both conditions is a progressive loss of coordination in the rear legs, accompanied by a peculiar wobbly gait. Weakness or partial paralysis affects the front legs as the disease progresses. Manipulating the neck up and down is painful and may exacerbate the paralysis.

Causes

Most cases of wobbler syndrome occur in Doberman Pinschers over 5 years of age, and to a lesser extent in Great Danes under 2 years of age, but other breeds can also be affected. Ruptured discs are more common in Doberman Pinschers, while vertebral malformations predominate in Great Danes. The malformed vertebrae may be related to the long neck and rapid growth of Great Dane puppies.

Diagnosis

The diagnosis is made by X-rays of the cervical spine and by a myelogram.

Treatment

Medical treatment is similar to that described for ruptured discs. Dogs with mild symptoms may respond to medical management. More severely affected dogs respond best to a surgical procedure that decompresses the spinal cord and stabilizes the vertebral column. Dogs will require extensive rehabilitation after surgery. Acupuncture and cervical collars may help.

Prevention

Breed factors and genetic influences appear to contribute to the wobbler syndrome. Until more is known about the exact cause, affected individuals should not be bred.

Support

Please contact your veterinarian with questions regarding this condition.

Show Sources & Contributors +

Sources

Dog Owners Home Veterinary Handbook

Publisher: Wiley Publishing, 2007

Website: http://www.wiley.com/WileyCDA/

Authors: Debra M. Eldredge, Liisa D. Carlson, Delbert G. Carlson, James M. Giffen MD

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