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Wobbler Syndrome in Basset Hounds

Basset Hound Wobbler Syndrome

If you’re a Basset Hound parent or potential new owner doing some research on the breed, it’s important to be informed about “Wobbler Syndrome”, a condition that can affect these lovable dogs. Let’s dig into what it is, the symptoms, causes, and how it’s managed.

What is Wobbler Syndrome?

Wobbler Syndrome, also known as cervical spondylomyelopathy (CSM), affects the spine in the neck region of dogs. It leads to spinal cord compression due to either a herniated disk (Disc-Associated Wobbler Syndrome) or bony changes in the spine (Bony-Associated Cervical Spondylomyelopathy). While it’s more common in large breeds like Dobermans and Great Danes, Basset Hounds are also susceptible.

How Does it Affect Basset Hounds?

Due to their unique spinal structure, Basset Hounds are prone to this condition. The curvature of their spine can lead to the compression of the spinal cord and nerves in the neck. Typically, symptoms manifest before the age of 3 years, but they can develop later in life. The most noticeable symptom is an unsteady, wobbly gait, often more visible in the hind legs initially. As the disease progresses, symptoms can become more severe, including neck stiffness, pain, and loss of balance.

Recognizing the Symptoms

Dogs with Wobbler Syndrome usually exhibit a wobbly gait, especially in the back legs. They might walk with their heads down due to neck pain. In more advanced stages, weakness and difficulty getting up can be observed, and in rare cases, paralysis. Other signs include muscle loss near the shoulders, worn toenails from uneven walking, and increased extension of all four limbs.

What Causes Wobbler Syndrome?

The exact cause of Wobbler Syndrome isn’t fully understood, but a genetic link is suspected. In large breeds like Great Danes, diet, particularly excessive protein, calcium, and calories, has been suggested as a contributing factor, although this doesn’t seem to be a significant cause in Basset Hounds.

Diagnosis and Treatment

Diagnosis involves a thorough physical and neurological examination by a veterinarian. Advanced imaging like MRI or CT scans are used to visualize the spinal cord compression. Treatment options depend on the severity and location of the issue. Surgery can relieve pressure on the spinal cord, though it comes with risks and cannot correct existing damage. Non-surgical options include anti-inflammatory drugs, pain medication, and activity limitation. After surgery, restricted activity for 2-3 months is crucial for healing.

Managing Wobbler Syndrome

The outlook for a dog with Wobbler Syndrome varies based on the severity of the condition, the extent of neurological damage, and the treatment approach. While some dogs may never walk normally again, treatment combined with physical therapy can significantly improve their quality of life. Regular veterinary check-ups and careful observation for any progression or change in symptoms are key to managing this condition.

Conclusion

Understanding Wobbler Syndrome in Basset Hounds is essential for early detection and effective management. Regular vet visits and paying close attention to your dog’s gait and behavior can make a big difference. With proper care and treatment, Basset Hounds with Wobbler Syndrome can still enjoy a good quality of life. Remember, if you ever notice any symptoms, it’s best to consult your vet promptly.

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