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Neurologic

This is a Brain and Spinal Cord condition.

Spinocerebellar Ataxia with Myokymia and/or Seizures

What is Spinocerebellar Ataxia with Myokymia and/or Seizures?

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?

The most significant clinical sign of the disorder is cerebellar ataxia; affected dogs often also display myokymia, an involuntary quivering of a group of muscles or part of a single muscle, seizures, or both. As the disease progresses, the muscle quivering or mykymia can reach a point that dogs can overheat; seizures can also become progressively more severe.

When do signs and symptoms develop?

Spinocerebellar ataxia (SCA) with myokymia, seizures, or both is a juvenile onset inherited disorder. Affected dogs usually begin to show signs between two and ten 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?

There is no treatment for this disorder. Certain medications may be prescribed to control symptoms.

What actions should I take if my dog is affected?

Keeping your affected puppy comfortable and giving them the best quality of life you can are the only actions you can take at home.

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