Cervical Spondylopathy a.k.a. Wobblers Syndrome, often lingers on the mind of many Great Dane owners.
Yet before you worry yourself sick, you'll find in this article wobblers is not a death sentence. Fact is that Great Danes, as regal as they are, tend to lack coordination at times. This is especially apparent during the first year when they're growing like crazy. And since in Danes, Wobblers more commonly first shows with young pups and juveniles, normal, clumsy Dane coordination can certainly cause a Wobblers scare!
Please know, we are not Veterinarians. This particular page was published to share a little more information about Wobblers as we receive many, many emails regarding the disease.
In addition, we have published our "Wobblers Home Test" a.k.a. "body awareness test" as many of you have written and requested it. Follow links to the test on our "Great Dane Health" main page for the run down.
Wobblers Syndrome is a disease..
That affects many breeds yet is most commonly seen in Great Danes and Doberman Pinschers. Symptoms are similar in both breeds and include lethargy, lameness, or weakness in the rear legs, loss of balance and coordination, and pain typically in the area of the neck. Ironically and in many cases, it is not uncommon for early signs of Wobblers Syndrome to show in the front legs. You may notice your dog scraping its nails while it walks, or, landing on its knuckles rather that the paw pad. Symptoms as such are often referred to as "knuckling over".
Progression of Wobblers Disease to advanced stages will cause a dog to have difficulty walking and maintaining balance, hence the word "Wobblers" was used to name this condition. Although the actual cause of Wobblers Syndrome is not scientifically known, it is widely agreed that both heredity and nutrition are major factors for predisposition to this condition. However, injury, trauma, or excessive stress to the vertebrae can also lead to Wobblers.
Handling growing Dane puppies with a bit of caution is recommended and it is so important to go easy with them. Exploding with growth at an exponential rate, care should be given as to limit the intensity of exercise and rough play with Dane pups. Proper nutrition is also top priority and never commit the cardinal sin, NEVER SUPPLEMENT CALCIUM TO A DANE PUPPY!
Symptoms of Wobblers Syndrome are caused by pressure to the canine spinal cord due to vertebral instability caused by compression, or, deformity of vertebral discs. Typically, disc C5, C6 & C7 are the area of the spine that's affected. Yet disc protrusion at any location of the spine can cause unnatural stress on the spinal cord.
Many acute cases of Wobblers Disease can be treated using steroids with a fair success rate. There are also a variety of surgical procedures used to repair deformed discs with some success. Procedures such as cervical fusion however are a major surgery and in some cases, Great Danes don't seem thrive as well as other breeds post surgery.
Alternative medical procedures including "gold bead" implants and acupuncture can also be performed to reduce pressure on the spinal cord. Alternative remedies are becoming more commonly chosen for Great Danes in lieu of surgeries. Modern Veterinary Medicine and research continues and progress is being made on the Wobblers Disease battlefront. We'll be sure to update this page as news of new advancements or treatments becomes available.
Until then, I hope the information provided here puts you more at ease, or at least helps you better understand Wobblers Syndrome.
Jeff & the aaGD.com Team