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Cerebellar Hypoplasia in Dogs

cerebellar hypoplasia in dogs

Cerebellar hypoplasia is a developmental disorder that sometimes occurs in dogs.

What Is Cerebellar Hypoplasia in Dogs?

Cerebellar hypoplasia in dogs refers to the incomplete development of the part of the brain called the cerebellum. This portion of the brain is responsible for motor skills, balance, and muscle coordination. This condition is congenital, meaning it occurs before the dog is born or in the perinatal period a week or two after birth.

What Causes Canine Cerebellar Hypoplasia?

This disorder can be caused by an inherited disease or by infection, toxins, or improper nutrition while in utero. Causes of cerebellar hypoplasia in puppies include the following, in order of most to least common:

  • Genes: The condition is hereditary in some breeds, particularly chow chows, bull terriers, wire haired fox terriers, Boston terriers, Airedales, and Irish setters.
  • Infection: Some infections, such as canine Herpes virus, can cause puppies at less than two weeks of age to develop cerebellar hypoplasia.
  • Toxin: Environmental or ingested toxins can cause the disorder.
  • Nutrition: Nutritional deficiencies in the mother while pregnant or the puppies shortly after birth can be a cause.

Signs and Symptoms of Cerebellar Hypoplasia in Dogs

Symptoms of cerebellar hypoplasia are not progressive, meaning they will not get worse over time. Symptoms vary in severity, depending on how underdeveloped the brain is. Some symptoms might improve slightly as the dog adapts to overcome its deficiencies. Signs of cerebellar hypoplasia in dogs include:

  • Head bobbing
  • Wide-based stance
  • Clumsiness and lack of coordination, which might cause the dog to fall over
  • Limb tremors while awake
  • Inability to judge distance
  • Unsteady or spastic walk
  • Intention tremors, which happen when the dog attempts to move such as when eating or walking

Diagnosis of Cerebellar Hypoplasia in Dogs

The diagnosis of cerebellar hypoplasia can be made based on the dog’s age and clinical signs, especially if one of the predisposed breeds in dogs. Additional tests may be performed to look for other possible causes. A MRI scan of the brain would reveal an underdeveloped cerebellum.

Treatment and Caring for a Dog With Cerebellar Hypoplasia

There is no cure or treatment for cerebellar hypoplasia, but dogs with mild to moderate symptoms can develop workarounds for their deficits. Owners of dogs with cerebellar hypoplasia should follow precautions to restrict the dog’s activity to prevent injuries from climbing, falling, or freedom of movement at the park. Dogs with cerebellar hypoplasia can live a normal lifespan, though they will not be able to live a normal life.


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