Wobblers Club

What is Wobbler's?

Wobbler syndrome is a neurological disease of dogs that affects their spine in the neck region. It is a very common cause of neurological disability in large breed dogs.

Canine Wobbler syndrome is called by many other names depending on the training background of the clinician discussing the subject. These include caudal cervical vertebral instability and malformation, cervical spondylopathy, and spondylolisthesis, to name a few. Wobbler syndrome or wobblers is the most common name used but the Veterinary literature has used 14 different names to describe this condition.


What are the signs of Wobbler syndrome?

Dogs with wobbler syndrome typically have a "wobbly" gait mostly in the back end (thus the name "wobblers"). This wobbly gait may only be visible on slippery floors and when the dog walks slowly. They may walk with their head down, which is usually a sign of pain. In the more advanced stages of the disease the problems become obvious in all four legs, and they may have trouble getting up, appear very weak, and even "buckle over" with the front legs

The neurological signs happen because affected dogs typically have spinal cord compression. The compression can be caused by a combination of a small spinal canal with disc herniation (as commonly seen in large breeds such as the Doberman), or a small spinal canal secondary to bony changes impinging upon the spinal cord (more commonly seen in giant breeds, such as Great Danes).


What are the treatment options?

Dogs can be treated medically or surgically. Medical management usually consists on the use of anti-inflammatory drugs (steroidals or non-steroidals) with restricted activity. Because they have a neck problem, neck leashes should not be used, and a chest harness is strongly recommended.


How is surgery done?

Surgery can be done in many different ways. There are at least 21 different types of surgery to treat wobbler syndrome. Several factors must be taken into consideration when deciding on the type of surgical treatment, for example how severe are the symptoms, how many lesions are present in the spine, how severe is(are) the spinal lesion(s), the presence of other concurrent medical conditions, such as dilated cardiomyopathy, etc. The attending Neurologist or Surgeon will discuss the options with owner, taking into consideration the short and long term expectations of the family.


What is the success of the treatment?

We have done a study looking at the success of surgery and medical management of wobblers in 104 dogs. Based on that study we learned that approximately 50% of dogs will improve with medical management, approximately 30% will remain stable and 20% will worsen. Surgical treatment offered a success rate of approximately 80%. The other 20% of dogs either remained stable or worsened. We have had very good success with both medical and surgical management.


Would wobblers shorten the life expectancy of my dog?

It might. Again, it depends on how severe are the spinal lesions, how much neurological impairment is present and the type of treatment. Typically, based on our studies, the mean survival time of dogs with wobblers is approximately 4 years after the diagnosis.




Helpful Links:

a surgical procedure that is done for Wobbler's dogs: http://www.durkesanimalhospital.com/wobblers.aspx

Presents details of signs, symptoms, and treatment alternatives.


Wobbler'ssyndrome is the common term to describe a gait seen in dogs with spinal cord compression in the neck, where they often take short or “floating” ...


Wobbler's syndrome, more technically called cervical vertebral instability (CVI) affects large breed, fast-growing dogs. According to Dr. Alistair .http://vetmed.illinois.edu/petcolumns/petcols_article_page.php?OLDPETCOLID=205

Wobbler Syndrome Questions and Answers Ronaldo C. da Costa, DMV, MSc, PhD, Dipl. ACVIM – Neurology Department of Veterinary Clinical Sciences


Wobbler Information by EJ Trotter


Want to know what it is like to Care for a Dane with Wobbler's?  

Here are some testimonials: 


Ezra came to our house as a foster with RMGDRI almost 2 years ago when he was just over 6 years old.  Immediately we noticed he didn't walk normally and thought something might be wrong with his hips.  After a couple of vet visits he was diagnosed with Wobblers.  At first it was scary because we were not familiar with the condition and didn't know what to expect, but we worked very closely with the rescue to come up with a treatment plan and immediately started trying treatments to find out what would work for Ezra.  Treatments/medications have included Acupuncture, Chiropractic, Tramadol, Gabapentin, B12 injections, and Vitamin E.  Ezra just turned 8 and he is still up and getting around well.  He has been on a very slow and steady decline since we got him, but he still gets around well.  He is definitely very weak in the back end and clumsy.  He can't do stairs at all, and wood floors are his worst enemy.  Luckily we have no stairs in our house, and to help with the hard floors we have put down runners throughout the house.

After a few months the rescue decided to make Ezra a permanent foster and determined that he could stay with us.  After a couple of months we decided to adopt him and it was the best decision we ever made.  While it can be challenging and expensive to adopt a dog with this condition it is very rewarding.  Something great about watching Ezra is that he doesn't know there is anything wrong with him; he is so happy.  People frequently comment about how sweet Ezra is and how happy he seems.  While it can be hard to have a dog that can't go for long walks or hiking with you it is also great to know that you are giving a happy and sweet dog a good life.  When we got Ezra we didn't know what to expect, and to see him still mobile and happy almost 2 years later we couldn't be happier.  One great thing about having a dog with this condition that came through RMGRDI is that many of the volunteers have had dogs with this condition and are always willing to help.  We have regularly talked to people in the rescue about their experiences with Wobblers, and what treatments worked for their dogs.  There are always people willing to take the time to help you and make you feel that you are doing everything you can.

Travis & Lindsay

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