What Is Wobbler Syndrome In Dogs?

what is wobbler syndrome in dogs

Wobbler syndrome in dogs is a neurological condition that affects a dog's mobility due to a spinal compression in the lower neck. All breeds of dogs can be affected but is most common in large and giant breeds including Doberman Pinchers, Great Danes, Irish Wolfhounds, Mastiffs and  Rottweilers. 

What Causes Wobblers In Dogs?

There have been many theories throughout the years as to what causes this. Most veterinarians believe this occurs from either a malformation or trauma on the vertebrae or a ruptured disk. As the compression on the spinal cord worsens, this causes issues with proper nerve signals throughout the spine leading to the wobbling movement seen in dogs. 

How To Diagnose Your Dog?

You need to take your dog to a veterinarian. A vet will perform a physical and neurological examination. They need to find out where your dog is experiencing pain and why. Diagnostic test will be done such as x-rays or an MRI. Treatment depends on the location of the spinal injury and how severe it is. Your veterinarian may refer you to a neurological veterinarian who specializes in issues such as wobblers. 

What Are The Symptoms Of Wobblers?

  • Neck pain and stiffness - dog will often drop head due to neck discomfort.
  • Full body weakness - dog can shake and appear unstable when walking.
  • Trouble getting up - dog can shake and appear unstable while trying to stand. 
  • Paw knuckling or difficulty with paw placement - paw knuckling can lead to open sores on paws which can become infected.
  • Partial or complete paralysis - signs of weakness and paralysis are often first seen in the rear legs due to the pressure on the spinal cord in the lower neck. 
  • What Are The Treatment Options?

    • Anti-inflammatory drugs - this is often recommended for less severe cases.
    • Neck brace - this is sometimes used in less severe cases along with restricted activity for several months. 
    • Dog wheelchair - dogs with wobblers  may benefit from additional support. A dog wheelchair can provide the additional support needed to keep your dog upright and mobile during the recovery process. Speak with your vet to determine when in their recovery process this would be the most appropriate. 
    • Surgery - more severe cases often require surgery to decompress the spinal cord. There are several different types of surgery. Your veterinarian should refer you to a veterinarian neurologist to determine which procedure is appropriate for your dog's needs. 
    • Canine physical therapy - this is an important part in moderate to severe cases. Your dog can have physical rehabilitation from a center specifically for animals, however large physical rehabilitation centers for humans often work on animals. Types of therapy include underwater treadmills, ultrasound therapy and electrical stimulation. The same techniques used on humans are used on canines which include cold and heat, massage, stretching and range of motion exercises. Canine physical therapy can relieve pain and promote cartilage, tendon and ligament health. 

    With the proper treatment many dogs have a high success rate of recovering fully or close to it. The earlier your dog is diagnosed the better. Make sure to follow the prescribed treatment plan to give your dog the best chance for a full recovery. Be aware that dogs who have experienced this condition are at a higher risk of another spinal injury or ruptured disc later in life. Annual visits to the vet and paying attention to any symptoms such as those mentioned for wobblers are important. 


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    About The Author

    Performance Dog Wheelchairs wants you to know that physical limitations are not the end to mobility. Our purpose is to give others and their dogs the ability to seek new adventures and overcome physical challenges with one of our dog wheelchairs. We have small, medium and big dog wheelchairs

    We offer a front support dog wheelchair which is also referred to as a dog quad wheelchair or four wheel dog cart, a rear support dog wheelchair and the patented SitGo Dog Wheelchair. This is the only affordable dog wheelchair that allows your dog to go from standing to sitting without having to remove it. 

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