This is a slowly progressive disorder in which swellings (spheroids) develop and accumulate along axons throughout the brain and spinal cord. Axons are the parts of the nerve cells along which impulses travel, and so this condition results in abnormal conduction of nervous impulses, and associated clinical signs such as a high-stepping gait and lack of coordination.
Inheritance is believed to be autosomal recessive.
Clinical signs are usually first noticed around a year of age, although owners of affected dogs may feel that their puppy was unusually clumsy. Signs seen with this disorder include an awkward or high-stepping gait, poor coordination, and development of a head tremor, all of which gradually worsen over several years. Dogs do not lose their strength over this time.
Diagnosis is made based on breed (rottweiler), clinical signs, and the absence of abnormalities on other diagnostic tests.
There is no treatment. However because the disorder progresses slowly, affected dogs can often function acceptably for many years.
There is slowly progressive ataxia of all 4 limbs, without paresis or loss of conscious proprioception (in contrast to rottweiler leukodystrophy) even when the signs become severe. Positional nystagmus, decreased menace response, crossed extensor reflexes, and exaggerated patellar reflexes are also seen. Other reflexes remain normal.
Affected dogs and their parents (carriers of the trait) should not be bred. The breeding of siblings (suspect carriers) should also be avoided. Unfortunately, due to its slowly progressive nature, the condition may not be diagnosed until breeding has already occurred.
FOR MORE INFORMATION ABOUT THIS DISORDER, PLEASE SEE YOUR VETERINARIAN.
Ackerman, L. 1999. The Genetic Condition: A Guide to Health Problems in Purebred Dogs. pp 140-141. AAHA Press. Lakewood, Colorado.
LeCouteur, R.A., Child, G. 1995. Diseases of the spinal cord. In S.J. Ettinger and E.C. Feldman (eds.) Textbook of Veterinary Internal Medicine, p. 629-696. W.B. Saunders Co., Toronto.
March, P.A. 1996. Degenerative brain disease. Vet. Clin. of N.A. Small Animal Practice. 26(4): 945-971.
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