Figure 4. The pain caused by compression of the spine can be severe and persistent, but not all affected Dobermans seem to suffer it. Normal intervertebral discs consist of two parts: a central gelatinous part, called the nucleus pulposus (NP), which is contained within an outer fibrous layer, called the annulus fibrosus (AF). Between each pair of vertebrae, spinal nerves exit the spinal cord to innervate sections of the neck and body. Da Costa (2011) suggested, from a recent survey of the Veterinary Medical Database in the USA, that 5.5 % of this population of Dobermans were affected. IN Dobermans, ventral compression of the spinal cord typically occurs at C5/C6 or C6/C7, as a result of disc protrusion or hypertrophy (thickening) of the annulus fibrosus (Dixon et al 1996, Cappello et al 1997, McKee et al 1999, Bagley 2002). Dancing Doberman disease (distal polyneuropathy) is a genetic neurological disorder that causes the dog’s hind legs to flex on their own, making him look like he is dancing. It is recognised as a disease of Doberman but currently there is little published data on the prevalence within the breed. Interventions to try to treat the disease may also have adverse welfare consequences. The cause is unknown. About 40% of affected dogs show obvious signs of pain (Seim 2000) but others may show changes in behaviour and the way in which they hold their bodies in order to avoid pain. ContinueFind out more, An information resource for prospective pet owners, Related terms: cervical vertebral instability-malformation syndromes, wobbler syndrome, cervical vertebral instability, canine caudal cervical spondylomyelopathy (CCSM); cervical spondylomyopathy, cervical malformation-malarticulation, cervical spodylolisthesis, cervical spondylopathy, congenital osseous malformation. However the genetics of this disease have not been fully investigated. A Doberman with a moderate-severe case of cervical malformation syndrome, holding the head low to relieve pain. Each disc consists of an outer layer (the annulus fibrosus) and an inner core (the nucleus pulposus). If your doggie is still young, you’ve got to be vigilant. In a smaller proportion (15%) there is a sudden onset of signs with few previous problems (Seim & Withrow 1982). Paralysis or extreme weakness in your dog’s back legs for more than 24 hours? Doberman pinschers often suffer from hypothyroidism, resulting from low production of the thyroid hormone from their thyroid glands. There will not be enough room under the dog to place his feet without interference, because the long legs “overstep” what his body length can accommodate. This "wobbly unsteadiness" often spreads to the front legs. Relief of the pain can be difficult. When your dog’s hind legs suddenly go weak, there could be any number of causes, says veterinarian Dr. Jules Benson, BVSc, chief veterinary officer with NationwideDVM, a pet insurer company. Answers from hundreds of doctors about benign to serious symptoms. The limb dysfunction affects locomotion and normal behaviours and significantly affects the quality of life. All text is copyright property of this site's authors. Pathophysiology Literally, hip dysplasia (CHD), means”badly formed hip”. An infection with the bacteria that causes botulism can also cause a dog’s hind legs to suddenly go weak, though this is rare, says Dr. Benson. The Doberman's powerful, muscular, compact, and square-proportioned build gives it speed, elegance, strength, and endurance. “Sudden hind limb weakness or paralysis can be a clinical sign of several conditions, including degenerative myelopathy, in which parts of the nerves in the spinal cord responsible for hind limb mobility degenerate,” begins Dr. Benson. Surgical treatments to attempt stabilisation of the vertebral column or to decompress the spinal cord and eliminate the narrowing are often recommended. From there I examined his paws, pads and toenails and applied firm pressure to the leg … Dobermans are typically middle-aged when they become affected. P 234, Da Costa R (2011) Wobbler’s syndrome, College of Veterinary Medicine, Ohio State university. In Dobermans it often appears when they are middle-aged to older - most are between four and eight years of age at presentation (Tomlinson 2001, Bagley 2002), but they may be as young as eighteen months (Tomlinson 2001). Dr. Benson explains that hip and knee problems, such as cruciate ligament injury and hip dysplasia, can present with what appears to be sudden-onset weakness in a dog’s back legs. The faster these cases are caught and treated, the better the prognosis, says Dr. Benson. Wobbler’s is a painful condition caused by an abnormality in the spine. 1 In addition to leg pathology, leg pain may be caused by a condition affecting the lower back, hip, or pelvic region. http://vet.osu.edu/wobbler-syndrome. Bagley R (2002) Spinal Instability In Dogs. Symptoms of Wobblers Syndrome are progressive, and show up gradually as the dog ages. Veterinary Radiology and Ultrasound 43: 124–131, Hazewinkel HAW, Goedegebuure SA, Poulos PW and WTC Wolvekamp (1985) Influences of chronic calcium excess on growing Great Danes. Recurrence of the problems can occur following surgery. Its posture is alert and proud, while its gait is fast and loose. Hip dysplasia - doberman. Euthanasia may be required. Doberman Pinschers have been known to experience sever neck pain as well as rigid front legs. A wide stance and lack of control over the hind legs (and in some cases of the fore legs also) are also characteristic signs of cervical pain and cervical vertebral malformation syndrome. Hip dysplasia (or coxofemoral dysplasia) is among the most common degenerative pathologies in dogs, mainly those of larger sizes. The content on this site is meant for information and guidance only, not for diagnosing or treating medical conditions. Methods and prospects for elimination of the problem. Intervertebral discs sit between the bodies of their adjacent vertebrae just ventral (below) the spinal canal. This technique involves injection of a dye into the spinal canal that is visible on radiographs to reveal areas of compression of the spinal cord. When surrounding tissues are damaged, spinal nerve tissue may easily become damaged also resulting in pain and sometimes spinal cord dysfunction (neurological disease). It has been suggested that environmental factors may also play a part (Hazewinkel et al 1985, Lewis 1992, Seim and Briecker 1993, Olby 2003). The intervertebral discs are located between the vertebrae. Cervical vertebral malformation syndrome is a multifactorial condition resulting from various primary developmental abnormalities which predispose affected animals to other, secondary degenerative changes that in turn narrow the spinal canal (ie causing spinal canal stenosis) and compress the spinal cord (VanGrundy 1989). Other forms of cervical malformation seen in the breed include congenital osseus malformation and vertebral tipping (Seim 2000). Cervical malformation syndrome in Dobermans usually develops in middle age, but it may be seen in dogs as young as 18 months, and it is progressive (Tomlinson 2001). This compression is caused either by protrusions of the intervertebral discs that are found between the bones of the veterbrae, or by hypertrophy (thickening) of the annulus fibrosus (the outer layer of the intervertebral disc) (Dixon et al 1996, Cappello et al 1997, McKee et al 1999, Bagley 2002). Veterinary Radiology and Ultrasound 42: 20–27, McKee M (2007) Lameness and weakness in dogs: is it orthopaedic or neurological? One of the common Doberman pinscher diseases affecting this breed is characterized by weakness in the hind legs. This site may contain third-party advertisements and links to third-party sites. Elbow dysplasia can lead to early arthritis and limping on the front legs. For further details about this condition, please click on the following: (these link to items down this page). Dobermans are typically middle-aged when they become affected, in contrast to the situation in great Danes in which younger animals are affected. Muscle atrophy (decrease in size) often occurs in affected limbs (McKee 2007). It has also been suggested that animals should not be used for breeding if any of their close relatives have been affected. Figure 3. Journal of Small Animal Practice 42: 574-581, Lewis DG (1989) Cervical spondylomyelopathy (‘wobbler’ syndrome) in the dog: a study based on 224 cases. Western Veterinary Conference, Bruecker KA, Seim HB and Blass CE (1989) Caudal cervical spondylomyopathy: decompression by linear traction and stabilization with Steinmann pins and polymethyl methacrylate. Some may feel that, unless the condition can be eliminated, perpetuating a breed in which a proportion of animals are likely to suffer chronic pain and/or disability is not justifiable. A pet insurance plan may pay over $8,000 for a required advanced imaging (MRI) and surgery, according to Dr. Benson. The disc degeneration and protrusion may result from vertebral instability or primary disc degeneration (Hansen type II disc protrusion) (Seim 2000). Leg pain and foot pain vary in type and severity and typically depend on a person’s lifestyle and associated medical problems. Hip dysplasia in Doberman Pinschers. Figure 5. (for more information click on the links below). He adds, “Mild cases of IVDD will respond well to anti-inflammatories and muscle relaxers, while more severe cases will require surgery to allow the affected pet to return to normal function. Affected individuals, or those that have produced affected offspring, should not be used for breeding. The degree of nerve damage varies from none to severe, causing paraplegia (loss of use of the hind limbs) and progressing to tetraplegia (loss of use of all four legs). Outline: In cervical vertebral malformation syndrome, primary malformations of the neck bones along with secondary degenerative changes result in pressure on the spinal cord. World Small Animal Veterinary Association World Congress Proceedings, Berry WL (2003) Cervical Myelopathy: Large Breed Dogs. It eventually leads for loss of bladder control and paralysis and at this stage euthanasia is the kindest option. There are differences in the types of disease seen in various breeds regarding which vertebrae are typically affected and the types of malformation that occur. “Sudden hind limb weakness or paralysis can be a clinical sign of several conditions, including degenerative myelopathy, in which parts of the nerves in the spinal cord responsible for hind limb mobility degenerate,” begins Dr. Benson. These include radiography (x-rays), myelography (radiography after injecting a dye into the spinal canal), computer tomography (CT) and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scans. Intervertebral discs are found between the vertebrae, starting between the second and third cervical vertebrae (C2-3) and extending throughout most of the spine. This paresis and/or uncoordination is caused by pressure on the spinal cord as it passes through the vertebrae of the neck, the last three being the most prominent sites. Dobermans are typically middle-aged when they become affected. The Doberman’s head and neck conformation may cause increased stress in the caudal cervical vertebrae and this may be the reason for the prevalence of the condition in this breed (Lewis 1992, Sharp et al 1995). Cervical vertebral malformation is highly breed specific and this indicates that it has a genetic basis (Bruecker et al 1989, Lewis 1992, Drost et al 2002, Berry 2003). Hair loss, dandruff, and acne are good indicators that something is wrong. It has been reported that 80% of the cervical vertebral malformation cases seen in dogs are in Great Dane and Doberman pinscher breeds. They most commonly get ventral compression of the spinal cord at the junction between cervical vertebral bones C5/ C6 or C6/C7. (Image property of www.vetneurochesapeake.com to whom we are grateful for permission to reproduce it here). We use cookies to improve your experience of our site. An MRI scan of a dog with deformed vertebrae and intervertebral disc protrusion (blue arrow) causing severe spinal cord compression. It’s important to properly diagnose hip dysplasia so you can give your dog the proper treatment like the use of a harness that supports the back legs of your aging canine. Vertebral tipping is characterised by the cranial dorsal (front top) part of the vertebral body tipping upwards causing narrowing of the spinal canal and, in some cases, compression of the spinal cord. Radiographs are only able to show the size and position of the bones. AmericanCollege of Veterinary Internal Medicine Forum proceedings 24th May 2002, Bell JS (2010) Genetic Testing and Genetic Counseling in Pet and Breeding Dogs. Each intervertebral disc is a highly specialised structure, designed to act as a mini shock absorber for the spinal column. Accessed 23.5.11, Dixon BC, Tomlinson JL and Kraus KH (1996) Modified distraction-stabilisation technique using an interbody polymethyl methacrylate plug in dogs with caudal cervical spondylomyelopathy. The pecking order of littermates is figured out when a Doberman is very young through the use of biting, nipping, shoving, and other similar actions. In severe cases, the dog becomes wobbly when he walks and can even fall over when trying to turn. The degree of nerve damage varies from none to severe, causing paraplegia (loss of use of the hind limbs) and progressing to tetraplegia (loss of use of all four legs). However, many Dobermans do not show signs until after breeding age. A smaller proportion (15%), have sudden onset of signs with few previous problems (Seim & Withrow 1982). In most Dobermans (65%) the condition is slowly progressive but, in some (20%), the disease starts slowly and then there is a sudden acute worsening of signs. 8. UFAW is grateful to Rosie Godfrey BVetMed MRCVS and David Godfrey BVetMed FRCVS for their work in compiling this section and to Stephanie Kaufman for assistance in illustrating it. How do you know if an animal is a carrier or likely to become affected? It is quite common in Dobermans – one survey found that about 5% were affected - and there is no way to know which puppies will become affected by the disease. Journal of the American Animal Hospital Association 16: 881- 883, Sampson J (2006) What is required for breeding programmes or molecular technologies to make impact on the prevalence and incidence of elbow dysplasia in dogs? Next is vertebral instability (“wobbler syndrome”), in which “the spinal canal narrows, placing pressure on the nerves affecting hind limb motor function,” says Dr. Benson. Cervical vertebral malformation syndrome is a multifactorial condition resulting from various primary developmental abnormalities of the vertebral neck bones which then predispose secondary degenerative changes that in turn narrow the spinal canal (spinal canal stenosis) and compress the spinal cord (VanGrundy 1989). They most commonly get ventral compression of the spinal cord at the junction between cervical vertebral bones C5/ C6 or C6/C7. Different breeds get different patterns of the disease. That this disease is highly breed specific shows that there is a genetic basis to it but currently the genetics are unknown. Further diagnostic tests are needed to diagnose these conditions and their severity (and the likelihood of response to treatment (Seim 2000). Signs typically begin at 3 to 7 years of age and may include difficulty using the hind legs, tail weakness, and incontinence. Journal of the American Animal Hospital Association 25: 677-682, Cappello R, McEvoy FE, Wheeler SJ and Rusbridge C (1997) Clinical and radiographical findings in caudal cervical spondylomyelopathy in Dobermann pinschers: 42 cases. The outlook for dogs having only conservative (non-surgical) treatments is considered guarded to poor (Seim 2000, Jeffery & McKee 2001), though Jeffery & McKee (2001) suggest that actually there is a lack of information on the natural progression of the disease as typically seen in Dobermans. This compression is caused either by protrusions of the intervertebral discs that are found between the bones of the veterbrae, or by hypertrophy (thickening) of the annulus fibrosus (the outer layer of the intervertebral disc) (Dixon et al 1996, Cappello et al 1997, McKee et al 1999, Bagley 2002). Relief of this pain can be difficult. It is recommended that specialist advice is sort from a veterinary orthopaedic surgeon. In Bongura JD ed Kirk’s Current Veterinary Therapy XIII. The Doberman’s head and neck conformation may cause increased stress in the caudal cervical vertebrae and the high prevalence in the breed may be because of this (Lewis 1992, Sharp et al 1995). Eighty percent of cases of cervical vertebral malformations in dogs occur in Great Danes and Doberman pinschers (Bruecker et al 1989, Lewis 1992). Journal of the American Animal Hospital Association 21: 377-91, Jeffery ND and McKee WM (2001) Surgery for disc-associated wobbler syndrome in the dog-an examination of the controversy. So far, with conservative management the back right ACL injured one has improved but after an idiot down our street startled her on bathroom walk the left got injured. The spinal cord is made up of delicate nerve tissue which transmits sensory and motor information between the brain and other parts of the body (excluding the head). Although veterinary interventions may be successful, such interventions themselves may involve significant welfare challenges. (Image property of Southern Counties Veterinary Specialists, to whom we are grateful for permission to reproduce it here). He explains that this occurs when bulging discs put pressure on the dog’s spinal column. Allergies. The sections of the canine spine. like she would lose her faculties. Veterinary Radiology and Ultrasound 36: 100-108, Shell L (2003) Cervical Instability. Those animals which do not have surgery generally have a guarded prognosis; surgery can improve the prognosis but is not without its complications and may not bring about a cure. Characteristically, the dogs start becoming ‘wobbly’ or ataxic on their hind legs, adopt a wide hind limb stance and scuff or drag the hind limbs when moving. The pressure on the spinal cord that occurs in these conditions can cause pain, nerve dysfunction or both. The disc degeneration and protrusion may result from vertebral instability or from primary disc degeneration (Hansen type II disc protrusion) (Seim 2000). This is potentially dangerous but necessary in some cases, although the technique has been partially replaced by magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scans (Lipsitz et al 2001, Penderis & Dennis 2004, McKee 2007). While physical therapy and vitamin therapies can help maintain a better quality of life, Dr. Benson says unfortunately there’s no treatment or cure for the condition. Another possible cause of sudden back leg weakness in a dog is intervertebral disc disease, says Dr. Benson. My 4 year old male doberman started limping in his left leg suddenly. Avoiding breeding from animals with affected close relatives is also likely to help eliminate this disease. (Figures 4 & 5 are the property of Willows Veterinary Centre and Referral service, to whom we are grateful for permission to reproduce them here). This can occur in Dobermans because of the head and neck conformation of these dogs. Pets are treated with an anti-toxin and supportive therapy, including IV fluids. progressive, uncoordination and paralysis of the hind limbs. This comprehensive limitation of liability applies to any kind of damage including (without limitation) compensatory, direct, indirect or consequential, loss of data, income or profit, loss of or damage to property and claims of third parties. ... because the misfiring nervous system creates "spasticity" in the rear legs, alternately flexing and straightening the legs so the poor dog is forced to shift his weight to and fro, as though dancing. Affected dogs tend to have a wide stance, particularly of the hindlimbs, and to have problems turning and getting into position for toileting. Affected animals, and those that have produced affected offspring, should not be used for breeding (Shell 2003). The Doberma… How do you know if an animal is a carrier or likely to become affected? Symptoms of hip dysplasia in Doberman Pinschers include moving more slowly, difficulty in getting up or lying down, reluctance to walk, jump or play, refusing to use stairs or get into the car, muscle atrophy, limping, yelping when touched, changes in appetite, and personality changes. The pain caused by compression of the spine can be severe and persistent but this is not present in all affected Dobermans. Probably the most common cause of a middle-aged dog who suddenly starts limping on a back leg is a ruptured cruciate ligament. Veterinary Radiology and Ultrasound 45: 216–219, Raffe MR and Knecht CD (1980) Cervical vertebral malformation - a review of 36 cases. This may occur secondary to instability created by degenerative disc disease or may be a primary problem that itself predisposes to disc displacement (Seim 2000). Figure 7. Although veterinary interventions may be successful, such interventions themselves often involve significant welfare challenges: from repeated visits to the vets, repeated administration of anaesthetics, side effects from drug treatments, and the impact of major spinal surgery. In Practice 14: 125-130, Lipsitz D, Levitski RE, Chauvet AE and Berry WL (2001) Magnetic resonance imaging features of cervical stenotic myelopathy in 21 dogs. Signs of Wobblers Syndrome often begin with a mild, unsteady gait in the dog's hind legs. With disc protrusion, the AP of the disc gets protruded through the AF into the spinal canal causing narrowing of the space and compression of the spinal cord. The genetic basis of this syndrome has not yet been determined. Scary Symptoms assumes no responsibility for ad content, promises made, or the quality or reliability of the goods or services offered in any advertisement. Back legs will “give out.” If you suspect your dog may have hip dysplasia, it is important to get them to a vet. Interventions to try to treat the disease may also have adverse welfare consequences due to the stress of repeat veterinary visits, handling, procedures and medications. Degenerative lumbosacral stenosis is a disorder of the vertebrae in the lower back that causes compression of the nerve roots. Spasm of the rear legs as a behavior is uncontrollable, but can be exacerbated by sensory stimuli (neurological syndrome). Affected dogs often hold their head down as this tends to relieve pressure on the spinal cord and the dog may feel less pain in this position. Currently, studies are underway at the College of Veterinary Medicine, Ohio State University, to try and elucidate the genetics of this condition in the Doberman (da Costa 2011). Hind leg weakness in senior or old dogs Canine Degenerative Myelopathy, also referred to as DM, is the most common reason why older dogs develop progressive weakness in their back legs. These include radiography (x-rays), myelography, computer tomography (CT) and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scans. Affected dogs often hold their heads low as this tends to relieve pressure on the spinal cord and lessen the pain (Seim 2000). The Doberman’s coat was bred to require little maintenance. when she tries to get on the couch or try to go down stairs she will fall if you do not help her. In order to understand this complex problem it is first necessary to understand the anatomy of the canine hip. (Image property of Dr Phil Witte, to whom we are grateful for permission to reproduce it). It has been suggested that diseases with an unknown mode of inheritance may be controlled using the approaches employed in tackling polygenic (multiple gene) disorders (Bell 2010). 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