Cerebellar Cortical Degeneration in Dogs: Symptoms and Diagnosis

What is It?

Cerebellar cortical degeneration is a brain disease where neurons in the cerebellum die at an early age.

What Causes It?

It is an inherited recessive gene needing to be present in both parent pups. There are two disorders that classify other cerebellar cortical degeneration: cerebellar abiotrophy and cerebellar hypoplasia. CA is when the cerebella is normal at birth and begins to degenerate. CH is when the cerebella is not fully formed in utero, it never fully forms but does not get worse.

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What Are The Symptoms?

  • Balance problems
  • Falling
  • Uncoordinated movements
  • Head tilt
  • Swaying
  • Wide stance
  • Abnormal gait
  • Staggering
  • Involuntary eye movement
  • Head or leg tremors
  • Muscle stiffness
  • Seizures

Is it Life Threatening?

A diagnosis of cerebellar abiotrophy can contribute to fatal falls. A diagnosis of cerebellar hypoplasia will not progress and therefore is not fatal.

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How is It Diagnosed?

A veterinarian will conduct an interview about your dog’s medical history and recent occurrences that may have caused the symptoms. The next step will be an MRI to ascertain if the cerebellum is the correct size. A biopsy of the cerebellum is definitive means of diagnosis – but is rarely done.

What Are The Treatments?

There is no curative treatment. A veterinarian may prescribe medications such as buspirone, co-enzyme Q10, and acetyl-l-carnitine which have shown some promise.

Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding pets. For an accurate diagnosis of your pup’s condition, please make an appointment with your veterinarian. Or, consult a virtual vet here.