Cervical Spondylolithesis

Also known as Wobbler’s Syndrome, cervical vertebral deformity or spondylomyelopathy, Cervical Spondylolithesis is caused by an abnormality in the structure of the neck vertebrae, which causes a compression of the spinal cord. This affects the legs of the dog causing weakness and lack of coordination. The disease is commonly found in large and giant breeds and can affect the dog at varying ages depending on the breed. Some breeds are identified with the symptoms of the disease between 3 to 18 months while others are identified between 3 and 9 years of age. The symptoms of Cervical Spondylolithesis are weakness and lack of coordination which will worsen into a stiff, high-stepping gait. The signs are more evident when the dog is negotiation turns, climbing stairs or rising from a down position. The symptoms occur on both sides equally and all legs are affected with the hind legs being affected at the onset of the disease before it moves into the remaining legs. Treatment is necessary and can include therapy, use of a neck brace, anti-inflammatory medications, as well as surgery; although surgery can have severe postoperative complications. Many dogs with this disorder live pain free lives but in severe cases, where the dog deteriorates quickly, the only choice is euthanasia.