Metabolic And Degenerative Disorders of the Peripheral Nerves In Dogs

Abnormalities in the metabolic function due to hormonal disturbances and deficiencies can affect the peripheral nerves.

Hypothyroid neuropathy 

This neuropathy affecting the peripheral nerves may occur in dogs having thyroid hormone deficiency. It is prevalent in the larger breeds of dogs, but it generally affects adult dogs. The symptoms can vary from mild loss of balance, and weakening of reflexes, to swallowing difficulties and partial paralysis. Faulty paw position of all the limbs is another common symptom. The dog may have vomiting too. The characteristic symptoms of hypothyroidism, such as loss of hair and obesity also occur simultaneously. The main treatment is thyroid replacement therapy. It is very effective in resolving the neuropathy and the symptoms usually disappear after only a few months of treatment.

Degenerative Diseases

Steady deterioration of neurological function is the main characteristic of the degenerative diseases affecting the peripheral nerves.These progressive disorders are not usually reversible.

Acquired laryngeal paralysis

It is a peripheral nerves disorder commonly seen in the larger breeds of dogs. Saint Bernards, Labrador Retrievers, and Golden Retrievers are especially susceptible to this degenerative disease. It appears in animals that are middle aged or older. The symptoms, usually starting with noisy breathing and a change in the voice accompanied by a dry cough, may progress to inability to exercise and breathing difficulties. A bluish tint to the gums and the tongue is a common symptom resulting from a decrease in the blood oxygen levels. The dog may show general weakness and a lack of sense of position of limbs.

The exact cause of the disorder is not known, but it is thought to be triggered by thyroid problems, or injuries or tumors in the neck. Surgical intervention may help relieve the difficulty in breathing, but does not resolve all the symptoms.

Dancing Doberman disease

It is a degenerative disease affecting Doberman Pinschers. Young animals 6 months of age or older may develop this neuromuscular disorder, usually starting with a flexing motion of the hip and a hind limb. The disease steadily progresses, and the dog repeatedly flexes both the hind limbs alternately in a dance-like movement , hence the common name of the this condition. It leads to partial paralysis, with the dog showing a definite preference to sitting over standing. The forelimbs are not involved.

The cause of this disorder has not been identified, and no effective treatment is available. The dogs having this disorder don’t seem to be overly affected, as this condition does not cause any serious disability or pain.

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