It is recognised as a disease of Dobermans but there are few published data on its prevalence in the breed. We use cookies to improve your experience of our site. Da Costa (2011) suggested, from a recent survey of the Veterinary Medical Database in the USA, that 5.5% of Dobermans were affected. With wobbler syndrome, surgery is usually needed, in addition to anti-inflammatory drugs. Signs of Wobblers Syndrome often begin with a mild, unsteady gait in the dog's hind legs. Hip dysplasia in Doberman Pinschers. Your vet will take blood samples and perform a skin scraping to get to the bottom of the problem. Dobermans are typically middle-aged when they become affected, in contrast to the situation in great Danes in which younger animals are affected. Veterinary Radiology and Ultrasound 43: 124–131, Hazewinkel HAW, Goedegebuure SA, Poulos PW and WTC Wolvekamp (1985) Influences of chronic calcium excess on growing Great Danes. Next is vertebral instability (“wobbler syndrome”), in which “the spinal canal narrows, placing pressure on the nerves affecting hind limb motor function,” says Dr. Benson. This has only been reported in Dobermans, which is why it is named as such. Wobbler’s is a painful condition caused by an abnormality in the spine. In Practice 29: 434-444, McKee WM, Butterworth SJ and Scon HW (1999) Management of cervical spondylopathy-associated intervertebral disc protrusions using 7.5 mm and 6.0 mm intervertebral metal washers in 78 dogs. Consult your physician before beginning any exercise or therapy program. Leg pain and foot pain vary in type and severity and typically depend on a person’s lifestyle and associated medical problems. From there I examined his paws, pads and toenails and applied firm pressure to the leg … The disc degeneration and protrusion may result from vertebral instability or primary disc degeneration (Hansen type II disc protrusion) (Seim 2000). Characteristically, the dogs start becoming ‘wobbly’ or ataxic on their hind legs, adopt a wide hind limb stance and scuff or drag the hind limbs when moving. Da Costa (2011) suggested, from a recent survey of the Veterinary Medical Database in the USA, that 5.5 % of this population of Dobermans were affected. Scary Symptoms assumes no responsibility for ad content, promises made, or the quality or reliability of the goods or services offered in any advertisement. Journal of Small Animal Practice 40: 465-472, Olby NJ (2003) Update on Canine Wobbler Surgery. The dog will alternate legs, appearing to dance around. The condition is caused by a gene mutation. The intervertebral discs are located between the vertebrae. Those animals which do not have surgery generally have a guarded prognosis; surgery can improve the prognosis but is not without its complications and may not bring about a cure. The spinal canal stenosis that is also common in these animals compounds the condition by increasing the pressure on the spinal cord (Raffe & Knecht 1980, Seim and Withrow 1982, Lewis 1989). Veterinary Radiology and Ultrasound 42: 20–27, McKee M (2007) Lameness and weakness in dogs: is it orthopaedic or neurological? The disc degeneration and protrusion may result from vertebral instability or primary disc degeneration (Hansen type II disc protrusion) (Seim 2000). In most Dobermans (65%) the condition is slowly progressive but, in some (20%), the disease starts slowly and then there is a sudden acute worsening of signs. This can cause chronic pain, which can be severe, and disrupts nerve signal transmission leading to loss of hind limb and, later, fore limb function. (Image property of Willows Veterinary Centre and Referral service, to whom we are grateful for the permission to reproduce them here). Scary Symptoms does not make any representation regarding the accuracy of any information contained in those advertisements or sites, and does not accept any responsibility or liability for the content of those advertisements and sites and the offerings made by the third parties. The loss of the ligament causes the knee to become unstable and painful when the dog attempts to put weight on it. Symptoms of Wobblers Syndrome are progressive, and show up gradually as the dog ages. Another possible cause of sudden back leg weakness in a dog is intervertebral disc disease, says Dr. Benson. Another possible cause of sudden back leg weakness in a dog is intervertebral disc disease, says Dr. Benson. Radiographs are only able to show the size and position of the bones. Allergies. Vertebral tipping is characterised by the cranial dorsal (front top) part of the vertebral body tipping upwards causing narrowing of the spinal canal and, in some cases, compression of the spinal cord. Figure 1. Affected dogs often hold their heads low as this tends to relieve pressure on the spinal cord and lessen the pain (Seim 2000). Its posture is alert and proud, while its gait is fast and loose. The genetic basis of this syndrome has not yet been determined. The prognosis for each affected individual varies with the severity of their condition, the underlying cause and the treatment offered. 7. Outline: In cervical vertebral malformation syndrome, primary malformations of the neck bones along with secondary degenerative changes result in pressure on the spinal cord. The Doberman's powerful, muscular, compact, and square-proportioned build gives it speed, elegance, strength, and endurance. Other forms of cervical malformation seen in the breed include congenital osseus malformation and vertebral tipping (Seim 2000). Proceeding of the American College of Veterinary Internal Medicine, Penderis J and Dennis R (2004) Use Of Traction During Magnetic Resonance Imaging Of Caudal Cervical Spondylomyelopathy (“Wobbler Syndrome”) In The Dog. (Image property of Dr Phil Witte, to whom we are grateful for permission to reproduce it). Relief of the pain can be difficult. (Image property of Southern Counties Veterinary Specialists, to whom we are grateful for permission to reproduce it here). Figure 2. Pets are treated with an anti-toxin and supportive therapy, including IV fluids. This may occur secondary to instability created by degenerative disc disease or may be a primary problem that itself predisposes to disc displacement (Seim 2000). In most Dobermans (65%) the condition is slowly progressive but, in some (20%), the disease starts slowly and then there is a sudden acute worsening of signs. These include radiography (x-rays), myelography (radiography after injecting a dye into the spinal canal), computer tomography (CT) and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scans. Symptoms Wobbly gait Stiff neck Weakness Shorter stride Weak front limbs Partial or complete paralysis Muscle loss near shoulders Scuffed nails from uneven walking Difficulty getting up The syndrome causes disability and can cause long-lasting pain. Relief of this pain can be difficult. However, as genes are considered to play a role, choosing a puppy whose parents and other ancestors are free of the disease seems logical. On-line VIN Associate accessed 14.11.2011, VanGrundy TE (1989) Canine wobbler syndrome Part I.  pathophysiology and diagnosis. It is a chronic, progressive disease and without treatment, the dog’s condition will gradually deteriorate. If your doggie is still young, you’ve got to be vigilant. Symptoms of hip dysplasia in Doberman Pinschers include moving more slowly, difficulty in getting up or lying down, reluctance to walk, jump or play, refusing to use stairs or get into the car, muscle atrophy, limping, yelping when touched, changes in appetite, and personality changes. It is quite common in Dobermans – one survey found that about 5% were affected - and there is no way to know which puppies will become affected by the disease. However, many Dobermans do not show signs until after breeding age. There are differences in the types of disease seen in various breeds regarding which vertebrae are typically affected and the types of malformation that occur. Hind leg weakness in senior or old dogs Canine Degenerative Myelopathy, also referred to as DM, is the most common reason why older dogs develop progressive weakness in their back legs. Figure 7. The degree of nerve damage varies from none to severe, causing paraplegia (loss of use of the hind limbs) and progressing to tetraplegia (loss of use of all four legs). This ball and socket joint consists of two basic parts – the acetabulum and the femur. It is illegal to copy, reprint or republish any content or portions of content from this site without the author's permission. Scarysymptoms.com will not be liable for damages arising out of or in connection with the use of this site. Euthanasia may be required. The degree of nerve damage varies from none to severe, causing paraplegia (loss of use of the hind limbs) and progressing to tetraplegia (loss of use of all four legs). The pain caused by compression of the spine can be severe and persistent but this is not present in all affected Dobermans. The Doberman’s coat was bred to require little maintenance. All text is copyright property of this site's authors. This may be difficult to treat and affected animals are likely to endure suffering prior to treatment and this may persist after treatment. Dogs have seven cervical vertebrae bones in the neck (numbered 1-7 starting from the head). The syndrome can cause long-lasting pain and disability and is usually progressive. How do you know if an animal is a carrier or likely to become affected? They may move in an ‘exaggerated’ way, seeming wobbly (hence the name wobbler’s syndrome) and ataxic on their hind limbs with a stiff or choppy movement of the forelimbs. Muscle atrophy (decrease in size) often occurs in affected limbs (McKee 2007). It has been suggested that diseases with an unknown mode of inheritance may be controlled using the approaches employed in tackling polygenic (multiple gene) disorders (Bell 2010). Accompanying symptoms of this would be excessive drooling, slack jaw and dilated pupils. This may progress to also affect the fore legs. The spinal cord is made up of delicate nerve tissue which transmits sensory and motor information between the brain and other parts of the body (excluding the head). This technique involves injection of a dye into the spinal canal that is visible on radiographs to reveal areas of compression of the spinal cord. The content on this site is meant for information and guidance only, not for diagnosing or treating medical conditions. Proceedings of the WSAVA, BSAVA 8, FECAVA World Congress, Birmingham, April. The animal may appear clumsy, "wobbling" or display swaying of the rear legs. An MRI scan of a dog with deformed vertebrae and intervertebral disc protrusion (blue arrow) causing severe spinal cord compression. Eighty percent of cases of cervical vertebral malformations in dogs occur in Great Danes and Doberman pinschers (Bruecker et al 1989, Lewis 1992). Journal of the American Animal Hospital Association 21: 377-91, Jeffery ND and McKee WM (2001) Surgery for disc-associated wobbler syndrome in the dog-an examination of the controversy. Cervical vertebral malformations are common in Great Danes and Doberman pinschers but they are also seen in other breeds of dogs, especially the larger breeds (which suggests that the disease may have arisen in association with selection for large size). Poor breeding, poor diet, vitamin deficiency, poor hygiene, and stress can all cause coat problems. Problems start when, for one reason or another, the spinal cord is damaged, a condition referred to as myelopathy, or the spinal cord is narrowed, a condition known as stenosis. How do you know if an animal is a carrier or likely to become affected? This is potentially dangerous but necessary in some cases, although the technique has been partially replaced by magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scans (Lipsitz et al 2001, Penderis & Dennis 2004, McKee 2007). P 234, Da Costa R (2011) Wobbler’s syndrome, College of Veterinary Medicine, Ohio State university. Usually the dysfunction starts insidiously but they can appear suddenly, sometimes after minor trauma of a sort that would not cause a problem to a normal dog (Seim 2000). Although veterinary interventions may be successful, such interventions themselves often involve significant welfare challenges: from repeated visits to the vets, repeated administration of anaesthetics, side effects from drug treatments, and the impact of major spinal surgery. In-depth explanations of symptoms you won’t find on other sites. Methods and prospects for elimination of the problem. They most commonly get ventral compression of the spinal cord at the junction between cervical vertebral bones C5/ C6 or C6/C7. Currently there is no way to know which Doberman puppies will become affected. Elbow dysplasia can lead to early arthritis and limping on the front legs. In a smaller proportion (15%) there is a sudden onset of signs with few previous problems (Seim & Withrow 1982). Vertebral disc protrusion can result in pressure on and constriction of the spinal cord as the inner core (red) of the disc protrudes through the outer layer in to the spinal canal. A wide stance and lack of control over the hind legs (and in some cases of the fore legs also) are also characteristic signs of cervical pain and cervical vertebral malformation syndrome. Cervical vertebral malformations are common in great Danes and Doberman pinschers but they are also seen in other breeds of dogs, especially the larger breeds (which suggests that the disease may have arisen in association with selection for large size). Back legs will “give out.” If you suspect your dog may have hip dysplasia, it is important to get them to a vet. Probably the most common cause of a middle-aged dog who suddenly starts limping on a back leg is a ruptured cruciate ligament. This breed is predisposed to a number of other major genetic conditions with significant welfare impacts such as von Willibrand’s disease, hypothyroidism and dilated cardiomyopathy, so any breeding programme aimed at reducing the prevalence of cervical vertebral malformation needs to take account of these and other genetic conditions so that the general health of the breed is improved and that efforts to tackle one problem do not risk exacerbating others. 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