There are a host of neurological conditions that can affect people and the same is true for our canine companions. In today's blog, our Fort Pierce vets share a little about the causes and symptoms of Parkinson's disease in dogs.
Can Dogs Get Parkinson's Disease?
Much like their pet parents, dogs can also be stricken by several neurological diseases and conditions including Parkinson's disease. Parkinson's in humans is largely considered to be a disease of the elderly, but in dogs, Parkinson's is thought to be primarily a hereditary condition, although some speculate that injury may also play a key role.
What Causes Parkinson's In Dogs?
Parkinson's is a progressive neurological condition that is caused by a loss of nerve cells that produce dopamine. Dopamine is a neurotransmitter essential for muscle control. The reduction in dopamine caused by Parkinson's leads to several issues for dogs including impaired balance and walking, as well as tremors and muscle stiffness.
How Can I Tell If My Dog Has Parkinson's?
Common symptoms of Parkinson's in dogs include
- Leg tremors in one or more legs
- Inability to stay still, fidgeting or restlessness
- Stiff, inflexible muscles
- Unusually cautious or slow movement
If your dog has Parkinson's you can expect its symptoms to gradually become more severe over time. As of yet, there is no cure for Parkinson's in people or dogs, however, early diagnosis and treatment are essential for slowing the progression of the disease.
How Is Parkinson's In Dogs Diagnosed?
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 urinalysis may be done to rule out other conditions that could be causing your dog's symptoms.
If other causes are ruled out, your vet may refer you to a veterinary neurologist for further diagnostic testing and treatment. At Sunrise City Animal Hospital, dogs with neurological conditions such as Parkinson's are diagnosed and treated by our board-certified veterinary specialists. Advanced neurological diagnostic testing performed by the neurologist may include a CT scan or MRI.
Can Parkinson's In Dogs Be Treated?
While there is no cure for Parkinson's in people or dogs, if your dog is diagnosed with Parkinson's your vet may recommend several different approaches for reducing your dog's symptoms. Physical rehabilitation (physiotherapy for dogs) can be used for pain management, and several drugs and supplements may help reduce tremors and maintain your dog's muscle mass. Our veterinary neurologist works hand in hand with you, your primary care vet, and other specialists to ensure that your dog has the best quality of life possible.