Cerebellar Hypoplasia is a neurological condition where the cerebellum is smaller than normal or underdeveloped. In the brain, the cerebellum controls voluntary movement functions including motor skills such as balance, coordination, and posture.
- Head bobbing
- Generalized lack of balance and coordination
- Exaggerated movements (especially when walking)
- Widened stance while standing
Dog's with Cerebellar Hypoplasia (CH) will typically have spastic movements, tremors, rolling around instead of starting to stand and walk, swerving, falling, and generally uncoordinated motion. Some pets never learn to walk with this condition. With less sever forms of CH signs can by subtle so they are not noticed except under careful observation and as you pet grows up.
Diagnosis of Cerebellar Hypoplasia
To diagnose Cerebellar Hypoplasia, once you notice symptoms bring your pup to your vet. The vet will need to preform an MRI. The MRI show if the cerebellum is underdeveloped.
Can Cats get Cerebellar Hypoplasia?
Yes! Cats tend right at birth while dogs will show symptoms when they begin to walk. Even goats have been diagnosed with CH.
Can Cerebellar Hypoplasia be Cured?
CH, unfortunately has no known cure but it will not worsen over time. With the right management your dog can life a happy, normal life! Physical therapy is great to make sure your pups muscles stay healthy and strong, a full support wheelchair is a great way to keep your CH pup upright. Their spastic movement makes it difficult to stand for the full support wheelchair will be great for trach proper paw placement and allowing your dog to move around without risking falling or injury!
Life with a Dog With Cerebellar Hypoplasia
Jane was saved by the Be Like Josh Foundation in Phoenix, AZ when she was just 7 weeks old. Despite the vets recommending euthanasia, her breeder knew she deserved a life and found the amazing people of Be Like Josh. At 3 months old, she was diagnosed by MRI with cerebellar disease, or what we like to call “cerebellar hypoplasia plus.” She is lacking more than half of her cerebellum, and also has other brain and skull malformations. Her balance and motor skills are most affected, but it causes her no pain. CH dogs all fall on a spectrum of abilities, and Jane is definitely one of the most severe. She can not sit, stand, or walk without support. She uses a full body harness and her Walkin’ Wheels to walk and is in physical therapy and hydrotherapy to strengthen her muscles. Many people believe that because Jane can’t move like other dogs, she has no quality of life, but this couldn’t be further from the truth. Jane has no idea that she is different. When other dogs run and play, she gets excited and starts running on her side, fully believing that she is running right along side them. She enjoys walks in her wheels, going to the dog park, and playing tug of war. Her life is just as valuable as any other dog’s- she just needed a human that was willing to put in the extra effort.
I can’t talk about saving Jane without mentioning how she has impacted my life. Because truth is, she is the one that saves me over and over again. I was chosen to be her foster mom when she was 2 months old, and I knew within weeks that she had my heart forever. Jane requires a lot more daily “work” than other dogs, but she also gives back just as much in love. I like to say that I’m the lucky one, and I know most people with a CH dog can agree. There is something simply magical about them and we have the the honor of being apart of it. They teach us how to be more brave, strong, compassionate, and to live life unapologetically. We are better humans for having them in our lives. I get to witness my girl accomplish something every single day. Whether it’s as simple as using the back of the couch to sit up against, or as challenging as getting herself outside when she has to go potty, I celebrate it. I wouldn’t change a thing about Jane or her neurological condition, because that’s what makes her, her. And she is absolutely perfect just the way she is.