Most times when people talk about dog wheelchairs and mobility aids, they are speaking about senior dogs. Old age does tend to cause a multitude of mobility issues but did you know there are conditions a dog can be born with that cause paralysis and could lead a dog to need a wheelchair from puppyhood into the senior years?
Conditions that Cause Mobility Loss in Puppies
Cerebellar Hypoplasia a disease that effects dogs balance, posture, and coordination. The Cerebellum is underdeveloped in pets with cerebella hypoplasia, the portion of the brain that is responsible for responsible for maintaining motor impulses.
Dogs with CH will usually have abnormal balance and will have trouble placing their paws. The stilted gait may appear like the dog is marching and appear unbalanced. CH puppies will often experience uncontrollable head tremors and shaking.
Idiopathic Epilepsy in Puppies
Idiopathic epilepsy is a condition where your dog has abnormal brain function that causes seizures. While the cause is unknown it is very likely to be a genetic trait as pure breed dogs are more prone to seizure activity.
Epileptic puppies will typically have their first seizure within the first year of their life and may continue seizure activity throughout or it may be a one time occurrence. Seizures are usually unpredictable and depending on the occurrence some dogs may need support, or they may have trauma to the brain stem that leaves them paralyzed.
These defect can cause malformations of the vertebra and cause damage to the spinal cord. The trauma to the spinal cord can cause mobility struggles and paralysis.
These spinal malformations are obvious from birth and easily visible. Most often showing in the curvature of the spine. Scoliosis is one of the more common spinal birth defects that effect puppies.
Hydrocephalus is a fairly rare disorder in dogs. Hydrocephalus literally means "water on the brain", but the fluid that builds up is actually cerebral spinal fluid (CSF). In hydrocephalus, this fluid is unable to drain away properly and increases pressure on the brain, congenital hydrocephalus is believed to be due to a problem during fetal growth and is seen in puppies. Hydrocephalus can cause, spastic or high-step walking and seizures which will cause a decrease in mobility.
Named after the breed it typically affects, is a neural disorder that affects the gastrocnemius muscle in Dobermans. At around 6 or 7 months, their rear leg will begin to flex when they stand, eventually this will begin in the other hind leg.
As the muscles flex it looks like the pup is dancing, hence the name! Dancing Doberman disease progresses over a few years to rear leg weakness and muscle atrophy.
Wobblers Syndrome commonly affects large and giant breed dogs. Caused by a constellation of abnormalities in the vertebrae and soft tissues of the neck that cause compression of the spinal cord.
The symptoms of Wobblers are an unsteady gait that slowly gets worse, typically the wobbly gait starts in in the hind limbs but will also affecting the front limbs.
This list is not exhaustive of condition puppies can have that cause mobility problems. If you believe your puppy isn't moving as they should, please contact your veterinarian!