By Judy Jones
A common term for Cervical Spondylopathy is Wobbler Syndrome due to the characteristic wobbly gait that many of these dogs develop.
Wobbler Syndrome is a condition involving abnormal development of the bones in the neck. The deformed bones may directly compress the spinal cord or cause soft tissue in the spine, such as the discs between the vertebrae thicken and compress the spinal cord.
Dobermans and Great Danes are the most common breeds that develop Wobbler Syndrome. The majority of dogs show signs of spinal compression as a young to middle-aged adults, for example four to six years of age.
Dobermans and Great Danes who start becoming weak or wobbly or show signs of neck pain should be considered as potentially having Wobblers. Signs usually develop gradually and are progressive over many months, occasionally affected dogs can go from appearing to normal to having great difficulty walking within a few days.
An MRI will provide information not only on the bones and soft tissues, but also on the nature of any injury to the spinal cord. The MRI will give your vet the best information in order to treat your dog. Many cases are managed surgically to try and prevent further injury to the spinal cord. Older dogs and those where the outlook with surgery is very poor may be managed conservatively with medications.
Wobbler Syndrome will cause the dog to lose their ability to know where their legs/feet are. They are unable to walk on hard surfaces (tile, concrete floors, vinyl, laminates, etc) without falling because their rear legs “splay” out underneath them. Throw rugs become a must in every household who has a Wobbler’s dog.
A harness is a must for these dogs so all tension is based on the shoulder and not the neck.
Raised feeder and water bowls because the dog will have a difficult time bending down to eat/drink.
Cold Laser Therapy is a great support treatment to help the spinal cord relax.
Acupuncture is another great support treatment to help the ease the spinal cord
Check on line and see what supplements may work for your dog (i.e. turmeric, fish oil, etc). Try and feed foods that will help with antioxidants to eliminate pain (i.e. salmon based dog food with vegetables)
Work closely with your veterinary clinic to make sure that the right medications are working for your Wobbler’s dog. It may take several times to get the right dose but don’t be discouraged, just like us medications may need to be tweaked in order to benefit your dog.
This will take some time to adjust but your dog will appreciate all that you are doing to help them. This is not a curable disease and just like cancer at some point the disease will win.
Love your dog with many hugs, cuddles, and spend time watching TV or movies.