What are the signs & symptoms that develop in affected dogs?
Common symptoms reflect central nervous system malfunction and include partial or total vision loss, behavior changes, abnormal gait, and seizures. Symptoms usually progress slowly over time.
When do signs and symptoms develop?
Affected Tibetan Terriers first show neurologic signs at 5 to 7 years of age; however, visual deficits, notably night blindness, can be noticed as early as 7 weeks of age and can be diagnosed by a veterinary ophthalmologist.
How do vets diagnose this condition?
NCL is definitively diagnosed through genetic testing or examination of central nervous system (CNS) tissues after the affected dog is deceased. Clinical signs of this disease may mimic many other CNS diseases, so examination by a veterinarian or veterinary neurologist is required. Advanced imaging (CT or MRI scan) and/or spinal taps may be performed to rule out other diseases.
How is this condition treated?
Currently, there is no treatment for NCL. While gene therapy trials in mouse models have proven promising, there is much more research required before it can be used in veterinary hospitals.