Cerebellar Hypoplasia in Dogs

Cerebellar Hypoplasia in Dogs - Symptoms, Causes, Diagnosis, Treatment, Recovery, Management, Cost

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Cerebellar Hypoplasia in Dogs - Symptoms, Causes, Diagnosis, Treatment, Recovery, Management, Cost

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What is Cerebellar Hypoplasia?

The symptoms of cerebellar hypoplasia are often not noticed at birth, and may not be noticed until the pet begins to be more active from around 6 weeks of age. Incoordination, jerky movements, and tremors may indicate the condition. 

Although there is no treatment for this disorder, often pets can go on to live quality lives. As this disorder can present similarly to other conditions it is important to discuss any concerns you may have that your pet is suffering from this disorder with your veterinarian.

The cerebellum is the part of the brain responsible for coordination, balance and depth perception. Cerebellar hypoplasia is a congenital disorder in which the cerebellum is not completely matured at birth. This can be caused by a genetic disposition that affects some canine breeds or a number of conditions affecting the pregnant bitch, such as infection, poisoning, and malnutrition.

Symptoms of Cerebellar Hypoplasia in Dogs

This condition is often noticed from about 6 weeks of age, as dogs begin to gain more movement. This disease is characterized by its non-progressive cerebellar signs. The symptoms your pet suffers from can vary greatly between cases. The symptoms include: 

  • Nystagmus
  • Incoordination 
  • Ataxia and dysmetria 
  • Intention tremor (tremor that increases at the end of a deliberate movement) of the head and eyes
  • Wide stance 
  • Disequilibrium (the sensation of being off balance)

Causes of Cerebellar Hypoplasia in Dogs

In order to understand the symptoms your pet may be suffering from it is important to understand the role of the cerebellum in the canine. The cerebellum is located in the lower part of the brain and is part of the metencephalon. This part of the brain is responsible for coordinating muscle activity and establishing muscle tone. Therefore, disorders of this structure may prevent it from functioning properly, causing symptoms such as head tremors, incoordination of the limbs and abnormal posture. 

This condition most commonly affects the following breeds

  • Chow chows
  • Airedales
  • Irish Setters
  • Boston Terrier
  • Irish Setters

As well as a genetic disposition this condition can be caused by intra-utero infection such as herpes virus, environmental toxins, or poor nutrition during pregnancy.

Diagnosis of Cerebellar Hypoplasia in Dogs

Your veterinarian will perform a full clinical examination, including a neurological examination, on your pet and discuss his history with you. Factors such as the age of your pet when symptoms were first noticed and your pet’s breed may be considered diagnostic features. Your veterinarian may choose to utilise magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) of the brain to confirm the condition; however, often the diagnosis is made from presenting symptoms that do not worsen or change and a negative result to parvovirus testing. In post-mortems of animals suffering from this disease, the condition may be seen by a symmetrically smaller cerebellum.  

It is important to differentiate this condition from another cerebellar disease, cerebellar degeneration or cortical abiotrophy. This disease may be suspected as similar symptoms present at a similar age, between 4 - 16 weeks of age. Unlike cerebellar hypoplasia, this disease is progressive due to ongoing reduction in cell populations in the cerebellum. 

Other cerebellar diseases that may need to be ruled out include: 

  • Inflammatory diseases, such as meningitis
  • Toxin ingestion 
  • Trauma during birth or early life
  • Metabolic disease that may have degenerative effects
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Treatment of Cerebellar Hypoplasia in Dogs

Unfortunately, there is no treatment for this disease, although many animals who are born with this condition make excellent companion pets. Due to the nature of the disease the symptoms should not worsen for your pet.

Recovery of Cerebellar Hypoplasia in Dogs

To manage this condition for your pet, it is vital that you understand your pet’s physical limitations, your veterinarian will be able to discuss these with you. As your pet may have difficulty controlling movement, you may need to assist your pet when eating and drinking.

For many pets with this condition self-trauma is the most common complication. In order to reduce the incidences of self-harm, providing your pet with a safe environment is an essential part of the management of this disease. Due to the imbalance and wide stance, stairs and uneven ground may cause a hazard. A non-slip, flat surface is an ideal environment for your pet. 

In very severe cases of the disease, the reduced life quality caused by this condition may result in your veterinarian recommending euthanasia for humane reasons. As this is often a genetic condition it is important that the parents of this pet are not bred further due to the chance of future litters inheriting this condition.

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Cerebellar Hypoplasia Average Cost

From 575 quotes ranging from $500 - $3,000

Average Cost

$1,800

Cerebellar Hypoplasia Questions and Advice from Veterinary Professionals

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Sosa

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Australian Shepherd

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15 Weeks

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Serious condition

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0 found helpful

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Serious condition

Has Symptoms

Ataxia, Aggitation

I have a 15 week old Australian Shepherd puppy that was diagnosed with hydrocephalus and was recommended that he be out to sleep, of course we didn’t do that! At this point he has gotten worse knuckling on not only his rear legs, but his fronts also. He is unable to stand, walk or sit by himself. We hold him up to eat, drink, uribate and deficate. He can only lay on his side and spin around. He is on a low dose of prednisone once daily ( 1/4of a 5Mg Tab SID). My question is he is on Royal Canin puppy good with 29% protein would he benifit from a lower protein food say 24%? (Iams adult lamb and rice)

Aug. 2, 2018

Sosa's Owner

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Dr. Michele K. DVM

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1611 Recommendations

I'm not sure that the marginal difference in protein from the food will make any difference in Sosa's life. That sounds honestly like a very sad life for him. As much as you love him, that may not be fair for him, and his condition may deteriorate.

Aug. 2, 2018

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Moby

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Border Collie, Great Pyrenees

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11 Months

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Serious condition

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0 found helpful

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Serious condition

Has Symptoms

Cataracts
Blind
Cerebellar Hypoplasia
Stage 1 Renal Failure
Grand Mal Seizures

My dog has cerebellar hypoplasia. He is a Border Collie X Great Pyrenees. He is only 11 months old, and is in Stage 1 Renal Failure and has developed blinding cataracts in a months time. He cries when he is left alone. His litter mates are starting to have seizures. Is this related to his Cerebellar Hypoplasia?

July 3, 2018

Moby's Owner

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Dr. Michele K. DVM

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1611 Recommendations

I'm sorry that Moby has so many problems. If he has been diagnosed with cerebellar hypoplasia, that tends to affect balance and coordination, and would not be related to seizures, kidney disease, or cataracts. If he is blind, that may be why he cries when alone. I hope that the parents of this litter are not being bred any longer, as there seem to be a number of genetic problems in those lines. I hope also that Moby does well.

July 4, 2018

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Precious

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Staffordshire Bull Terrier

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8 Weeks

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Critical condition

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0 found helpful

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Critical condition

Has Symptoms

Diarrhea
Blood In Stool
Head Jerking
Can’T Walk
Eyes Protruding

My 8 week old puppy was diagnosed with cerebellar hypoplasia today the vet said her condition is severe we went out and bought high calorific food to see if it helps but tonight she’s even worse she’s pooping blood her stools are runny she keeps chewing on her paws and head jerking is this part of the disease? The vet recommended putting her to sleep tomorrow I am taking her to cross the rainbow bridge

May 16, 2018

Precious' Owner


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3320 Recommendations

Cerebellar hypoplasia is rare in dogs and is difficult to make an ante mortem diagnosis without a CT scan or MRI; diarrhoea isn’t a characteristic symptom of cerebellar hypoplasia but other neurological symptoms may be associated with the condition. I would recommend getting another opinion due to the rarity of the condition in dogs to be on the safe side. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM

May 16, 2018

Not a vet. But with my experience cant go from reg food to high protein or high vitamin food. Any such thing seems to cause an inbalance in the dog. My Angel ( yorkie mix) experienced vomiting. So.... maybe.... diahrrhea. Increase slowly.

July 22, 2018

Pat G.

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Pupperton

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Lab/Retriever

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11 Months

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Serious condition

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0 found helpful

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Serious condition

Has Symptoms

Loss Of Back Half, Knuckling Paws,

Our 11 month old pup has been diagnosed with this. What percentage becomes more aggressive as this progresses? Our pup is snapping and biting. We are hoping meds will help, but are preparing ourselves for the worse.

April 14, 2018

Pupperton's Owner

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3320 Recommendations

Generally after four months of age symptoms do not progress or get any worse. This condition doesn’t cause aggression in dogs, although some dogs may have behavioural changes due to the effects of the symptoms. The aggression may be unrelated and may ust require some training. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM

April 15, 2018

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Lovebug

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Huskey

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1 Year

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Fair condition

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1 found helpful

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Fair condition

Has Symptoms

Body/Head Swaying, Vomiting

My dog was diagnosed with hypoplasia. She is almost a year old. Yesterday she was outside with my husband for hours and spend most of the time on a slanted hill. She came in the house very off balance. Her body was swaying and her head was shaking more than usual. She seemed to be a little delirious at times as well. In the middle of the night she was throwing up. This morning, she seemed to be back to herself, but has thrown up again. Is this because of the cerebellar hypoplasia?

April 9, 2018

Lovebug's Owner


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Dr. Michele K. DVM

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1611 Recommendations

It is possible that this behavior is related to her brain condition, yes. If she continues to vomit, she should be examined by your veterinarian, but it may just take some time to get her equilibrium back.

April 9, 2018

First time i took my puppy on a walk with other pups i carried her but about 3/4 way thru walk she started having somewhat like seizures or muscle spasms to me. Her head pulled to left an she stiffened up. I came to realize i think she got too hot cuz i got her home wet her in cool tap water an put her in front of fan soon she was fine. But i have learned she was basicly on verge of a stroke. So if system is compromised with this disease may want to pay close attention to hydration by checking skin on nape of neck an too this happen to us at 7:30p.m. In eve at 82’F heat index was probably higher an vomiting could be due to overheating or dehydration. I am not a vet but do have a puppy with this illness. And i realized it between 3-5 weeks of age.

July 22, 2018

Pat G.

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Sancho

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Husky

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8 Weeks

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Fair condition

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0 found helpful

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Fair condition

Has Symptoms

Head Pressing
Uncoordinated

We got a husky/ German shepherd mix puppy about 2 weeks about, he was only 6 weeks old at the time, and would run around fine and play but over the course of about 2-3 days recently he stopped really walking and my mom took him into the vet today and he said he thinks it’s cerebellar hypoplasia but isn’t 100% certain.. he’s only just 8 weeks and we’re changing his diet, because when he does walk he walks completely normal just not for long periods of time...

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Kevin

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Chorkie

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6 Months

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Moderate condition

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0 found helpful

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Moderate condition

Has Symptoms

Seizure Pre Foster, Can Not Walk

I am fostering a six month old male Chorkie Who has been diagnosed with hypoplasia. This is most likely congenital as thorough exam has determined that it was not disease related. I started fostering this animal at 14 weeks he was 3 lbs. 8 oz. and is now almost 10 pounds. During his time with me he has developed a personality, he wags his tail, gives kisses, and I’ve had a wheelchair made for him. The wheelchair is set up so that he is hanging supported by custom made hanging apparatus. I cannot stand or walk on his own but is able to move in the wheelchair. He’s gaining strength can hold his neck up, He can sit up, eat on his own. My question is about more advanced physical therapy, his legs are gaining strength but because of the Lack of coordination wondering what other therapies might be helpful for him

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Mumi

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mongrel

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7 Months

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Moderate condition

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0 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Moderate condition

Has Symptoms

Aggressive
Blind
Loss Of Balance And Coordination

My male pup was diagnosed with CH at the age of 3 months, after having an MRI. All the symptoms are there, and he is also blind in one eye and has very limited vision in the other. My main concern, though is his aggression - whenever he hears a loud noise or when he goes to the vet, he becomes vicious and snaps at everything around him. I am worried that as he grows bigger, he could do serious damage if he bites someone (he is strong). We take him to a trainer, but it isn't helping. I was wondering if an anti-barking collar would work - when he gets aggressive, we make it vibrate and beep - or would this just make it worse? Does anyone have any experience with this? I would like to get him neutered to calm him down, but we can't take him to the vet, as he goes crazy. Apart from this, he is a sweet pup, and we love him to bits - we just want to help him get over this aggression.

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Tipsy Love

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white lab

dog-age-icon

13 Years

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Moderate condition

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0 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Moderate condition

Has Symptoms

Vomiting
Falling Over
Walk Unevenly

My sweet Tipsy Love, was born with Cerebellar Hypoplasia, but we did not know that when we picked her out. She had me a first lick, She was the only one out of her 9 siblings sprawled out, with her legs full out behind her under a chair, and I remember picking her up, and she just licked my hand and I never put her down. They called her wobbles, well being a freshman in college at this time, I changed her name to Tipsy. I thought she was perfect, and everyone always asked what’s wrong with your dog, and my response “she is special”. And she was far beyond... The breeders said that she would grow out of it at ”6 months”... but no change happened, still her happy, full of life, pleasing self. At 2 years she began having (what I thought were seizures) but where she wouldn’t be able to stop her head shaking for a few seconds. I immediately took her to the vet who recommended me to go to a specialist. We decided to do an MRI on her, (I don’t and didn’t want to know details but was told never to put her under anesthesia again...after this test) I had never heard of Cerebellar Hypoplasia, and from what they showed me on her scan and with little information and research we have on this, is that her cerebellum was full of liquid. Please note this was back in 2003 and I was told that with her being lap, hip displasia, and being a bigger dog life expectancy would be less, but that she was in no pain. And I can tell you she was the bravest dog, she lived to be 13.5. She was the BEST most loyal companion. I miss her dearly.

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Oliver

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Goldendoodle

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2 Years

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Mild condition

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1 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Mild condition

Has Symptoms

Cerebellum Hypoplasma

Oliver doesn’t have severe case of this condition but recently he had a seizure. He is two years old and just had one yesterday and I got medicine for it but the vet told me to hold off on it unless I see another one coming. Could his seizure be a cause of this condition? And should I expect more seizure occurring?

Cerebellar Hypoplasia Average Cost

From 575 quotes ranging from $500 - $3,000

Average Cost

$1,800

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