Wobblers

Wobblers is a disease of the vertebrae of the neck, which leads to a characteristic wobbly walk. It is relatively rare, but is more common in Great Danes (when it usually starts quite young) and in dobermanns, when it is more often a disease of middle age. Its origin can be genetic or possibly caused by trauma (eg sharp pulling on a lead), and there is also a school of thought that diet may play a part by causing dogs to grow too quickly. The immediate cause is usually a narrowing of the vertebral canal leading to compression of the spinal cord. Wobblers is also referred to as cervical spondylomyelopathy (CSM) or cervical vertical instability.

Symptoms include weakness, lack of co-ordination, and dragging of the rear toes. The dog sometimes appears to be crouching, with a downward flexed neck. It may develop a swaying motion when walking. It most often affects only the back legs, but can occasionally progress to the front legs as well.

Diagnosis is by x-ray and often also MRI. Treatment is usually either the use of drugs such as corticosteroids to control the symptoms, usually with cage rest, or surgery to correct the spinal cord compression. Some dogs recover well and live a full life, but others respond less well. Regular physiotherapy by the owners has been reported to help.

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