There are a host of neurological conditions that can affect dogs as well as people, Parkinson's is one such disease. Our Matthews veterinary neurologist shares a little about Parkinson's disease in dogs, including the causes, symptoms, and how the condition is diagnosed.
Can dogs have Parkinson's Disease?
Dogs, like their pet parents, can be stricken by a number of neurological conditions including Parkinson's. Parkinson's disease in humans is typically considered to be an age related disease, but in dogs Parkinson's believed to be primarily a hereditary condition. That said, some evidence suggests that injury may also play a key role in the development of the disease in dogs.
What causes Parkinson's in dogs?
Parkinson's is a progressive neurological condition which is caused by a loss if nerve cells that produce dopamine. Dopamine is an essential neurotransmitter for muscle control. The reduction in dopamine caused by Parkinson's leads to a number of issues for dogs including tremors and muscle stiffness as well as impaired balance and walking.
Does my dog have Parkinson's?
Some of the most common symptoms of Parkinson's in dogs include: leg tremors in one or more legs, an inability to stay still, fidgeting or restlessness, stiff or inflexible muscles and unusually cautious or slow movements. If your dog has Parkinson's their symptoms will gradually become more severe over time.
How do vets diagnose Parkinson's in dogs?
Your vet will begin by taking a thorough history of your dog's health and current symptoms, then do a full physical examination. Blood tests or a urinalysis may be done in order to rule out other conditions that could be causing your dog's symptoms.
Next, your vet may refer you to a veterinary neurologist for further diagnostic testing and treatment. At Carolina Veterinary Specialists in Matthews dogs with neurological conditions such as Parkinson's are diagnosed and treated by our board-certified veterinary neurologists.
Advanced neurological diagnostic testing performed by your veterinary specialists at CVS Matthews may include a CT scan or MRI.
Can Parkinson's in dogs be cured?
Sadly there is no cure for Parkinson's in people or dogs. If your dog is diagnosed with Parkinson's your vet may recommend a number of different approaches for reducing your dog's symptoms and slowing the progression of the disease. Physical rehabilitation (physiotherapy for dogs) can be used to help with pain management, and there are a number of drugs and supplements that may be helpful in reducing tremors and maintaining your dog's muscle mass.
Our veterinary neurologists work hand in hand with you, your primary care vet and other specialists to ensure that your dog has the best quality of life possible.