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Brain Tissue Undervelopment in Dogs

Cerebellar Hypoplasia in Dogs

Cerebellar hypoplasia is a condition in which parts of the cerebellum have not completely developed. The cerebellum makes up a large part of the brain, lying under the cerebrum and toward the back, above and behind the brainstem. This condition can occur due to intrinsic (genetic) causes, or to extrinsic causes like infections, toxins or nutritional deficiencies. Symptoms become visible when the puppies begin to stand and walk, around six weeks of age. Cerebellar hypoplasia is hereditary in Airedales, Chow Chows, Boston Terriers, and Bull Terrier breeds.

Symptoms and Types

  • Head bobbing
  • Limb tremors
    • Aggravated by movement or eating
    • Disappear during sleep
  • Unsteadiness or clumsiness with a wide-based stance
  • Unable to judge distance and disequilibrium:
    • Falling, flipping over
  • Slight improvement may occur as the puppy accommodates to its deficits

Causes

  • Hereditary in some breeds
  • Infection of the body and/or brain
  • Environmental toxins, ingested toxins
  • Nutritional deficiencies

Diagnosis

You will need to give a thorough history of your dog's health, including a background history of symptoms, and possible incidents that might have precipitated this condition. If you can provide any information on your dog's birth, or on the condition of the mother, it may help your veterinarian to pinpoint the cause of the defect. Your veterinarian will conduct a complete physical exam with a blood chemical profile, a complete blood count, an electrolyte panel and a urinalysis.

Animals affected with cerebellar hypoplasia show signs at birth or shortly thereafter. Puppies may show a slow progression of signs over weeks to months. After postnatal onset of signs of cerebellar hypoplasia, these patients should not show any further progression of signs. Age, breed, history and typical non-progressive symptoms are usually sufficient for tentative diagnosis.

 
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