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5 FAQ’s about Wobblers Syndrome in Dogs (in 2021)

Wobblers Syndrome (also known as cervical spondylomyopathy) is a spinal disease that affects the necks (cervical spine) of large breed dogs (including Doberman Pinschers, Great Danes, and Basset Hounds). The term “wobbler’s syndrome” references the way a dog moves when he/she has this condition.

The condition is painful for the dog and is the result of either bony formations or slipped intervertebral disks. Dogs with this condition develop a progressively uncoordinated gait that affects their rear legs. Over time, the dog will experience muscle atrophy in the rear limbs and around the shoulder blades due to lack of movement.

As a dog owner, you may be shocked to find your dog in a great deal of sudden pain. They may vocalize pain when attempting to turn their necks, jump onto furniture, or simply trying to walk. Dog owners have a lot of questions about the condition and this post is designed to address those.

Approximately 50% of the cases of wobbler syndrome seen in dogs occur in Doberman pinschers, and other breeds commonly affected include the Weimaraner, Great Dane, Rottweiler, and the Dalmation. Despite certain breed predilections, any dog breed may be affected, including small dogs.

Wobbler Syndrome in Dogs (Cervical spondylomyopathy)
Robin Downing, DVM, DAAPM, CVPP, CRPP
Care & Wellness, Diagnosis, Medical Conditions, Treatment, Surgical Conditions, Pet Services

1. How Long Can a Dog Live With Wobblers?

The answer to this question depends on the severity of the dog’s condition, the age of the dog, and any underlying conditions that could pose additional risks for surgery.

For dogs able to undergo surgery, the success rate is as high as 80%. In clinical evaluations, it’s reported that 20% of dogs who had surgical treatment either remained stable or got progressively worse.

Generally speaking, the survival time of a dog with Wobblers Syndrome is approximately 4 years.

Source: The Ohio State University College of Veterinary Medicine.

2. Can a Dog Develop Wobbers Syndrome at Any Age?

There are two categories of dogs that could be affected by the syndrome.

Young Dogs

A large or giant breed dog could be considered “young adult” around the age of 1 or 2. Dogs this age tend to experience bony narrowing at the vertebral canal which results in painful spinal compression.

Middle-Age to Senior Dogs

Large and giant breed dogs reach middle age at 6 or 7 years old. Dogs this age tend to experience degeneration of the spinal column. This degeneration creates a series of changes that results in narrowing of the vertebral canal.

3. What are the Signs of Wobblers Syndrome in Dogs?

The signs of Wobblers Syndrome in Dogs include the following:

  • lack of coordination when walking (ataxia)
  • walking with a wide stance
  • swaying from side-to-side while walking
  • partial or complete paralysis
  • stiffness or pain in the neck

The early signs of wobblers syndrome are usually mild. In some cases, they might be overlooked as a sign of aging. For example, the dog may have difficulty getting up or may experience some pelvic weakness.

Postoperative care for dogs that have had the distraction-stabilization technique will depend on their neurologic status. Non-ambulatory dogs will require considerable nursing care, including keeping them dry and clean, making sure that they receive proper nutritional and fluid intake, and rehabilitation.

PERSPECTIVE ON CERVICAL VERTEBRAL
MALFORMATION/MALARTICULATION (WOBBLERS DISEASE)
WORLD SMALL ANIMAL VETERINARY ASSOCIATION WORLD CONGRESS PROCEEDINGS, 2001
JAMES TOMLINSON
UNITED STATES

4. How is Wobblers Syndrome Treated?

Non-surgical Interventions

In mild cases that are caught in the early stages of the disease, anti-inflammatory drugs are used. Corticosteroid therapy and rest are two of the main non-surgical interventions.

Wagwalking.com have a great post on electroacupuncture for dogs with wobblers syndrome, which is another non-surgical option for some dogs. Essentially, acupuncture uses very small needles to stimulate healing and provide relief from pain. With electroacupuncture, mild electric currents help stimulate the nerve endings.

Surgery

There are two types of surgery used for dogs with wobblers syndrome. The first type removes the tissues causing compression in the spinal cord. The second type of surgery fuses the vertebrae at a position that allows for more room for the spinal cord.

5. What Causes Wobblers Syndrome in Dogs?

A few things that are thought to contribute to the development of Wobblers includes a genetic predisposition and a nutritional imbalance. One example of a nutritional imbalance could be a diet high in protein. The Great Dane, for example, has unique dietary needs. Ask your veterinarian for suggestions on food with the best nutritional composition for the breed.

Wobblers Syndrome tends to affect large breeds like Great Danes
Thank you to phorographer: nathalie-spehner-Of2r5d4rQIs-unsplash of unsplash.com

Summary

Different breed dogs come with different weaknesses and genetic predisposition. For large and giant breeds, it’s the risk of cervical compression. If you know anyone who has had a slipped disk, you know how painful it is.

Watch for signs of weakness, lameness in the hind legs, and stiffness or pain around the neck. If you suspect anything, don’t hesitate to bring your dog to a licensed veterinarian. This post is not meant to diagnose your dog, but to give you some food for thought and an opportunity to research further.

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sources:

Vet.sou.edu/BuckeyeAcademy

VCA Hospital

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