Neurologic

This is a Brain and Spinal Cord condition.

Late Onset Spinocerebellar Ataxia

What is LoSCA?

Known as the "oldest" (even reptiles and more ancient species have them!) part of the brain, the cerebellum fine-tunes motor signals from the brain to the muscles, allowing for balance and coordination. Signs of cerebellar disease reflect this role: dogs have an uncoordinated gait (ataxia) with stilted "toy soldier" leg movements. They can display "intention tremors," where a stretched out limb or head shakes more and more violently as it approaches its target. At rest, dogs sometimes display a "truncal sway;" their spinal muscles have lost their fine-tuning, pulling the spine (and everything attached to it) back and forth in a struggle to maintain balance. The muscles of the eyes have also lost this fine-tuning, leading to a rhythmic eye flicking (nystagmus). The majority of cerebellar diseases are characterized by these symptoms, with little distinguishing factors besides age of onset. Unless a genetic basis is suspected due to the age, breed, or history of the dog, diagnostics must be performed to rule out infectious, inflammatory, or neoplastic causes. Embark tests for virtually all cerebellar diseases with a known genetic basis, thus reducing the time and expense needed to reach a diagnosis.

What are the signs & symptoms that develop in affected dogs?

Signs of cerebellar disease include: dogs have an uncoordinated gait (ataxia) with stilted "toy soldier" leg movements. They can display "intention tremors," where a stretched out limb or head shakes more and more violently as it approaches its target. At rest, dogs sometimes display a "truncal sway;" their spinal muscles have lost their fine-tuning, pulling the spine (and everything attached to it) back and forth in a struggle to maintain balance. The muscles of the eyes have also lost this fine-tuning, leading to a rhythmic eye flicking (nystagmus).

When do signs and symptoms develop?

Unlike other SCAs in the Russell Terriers, loSCA begins between six and twelve months of age.

How do vets diagnose this condition?

Unless a genetic basis is suspected due to the age, breed, or history of the dog, diagnostics must be performed to rule out infectious, inflammatory, or neoplastic causes.

How is this condition treated?

During the first few months of the disease, symptoms can become progressively more severe. Though the disease can stabilize to some degree with time, episodes of worsening have been reported. As walking becomes extremely difficult towards the end stages of the disease, euthanasia is usually elected.

Discover Your Dogʼs DNA Story

Embark Dog DNA Test for Breed Identification

Breed Identification Kit

Breed ID Kit

Learn about your dogʼs breed, ancestry, and relatives.

$129

LEARN MORE

Breed + Health Kit

Breed + Health Kit

Learn about your dogʼs breed, health, traits, ancestry, and relatives.

$169

LEARN MORE