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Spasm of the Rear Legs in Dogs

Dancing Doberman Disease 

 

This neurological syndrome is characterized by the bending of one rear limb when standing, progressing over months to include the opposite pelvic limb. The affected dog bends and extends the limbs alternatively, as in a dancing motion. A combined reaction to sensory stimulus and automatic neurological impulses is suspected in the behavior. It occurs in Doberman pinschers, with an age of onset from six months to seven years. It occurs in both males and females.

 

Symptoms and Types

 

The main symptom of this disorder is presented by the affected dog holding one leg up in a bent position while standing; the alternate limb usually becomes affected three to six months after the onset of the condition, with the same behavior. The dog will alternate legs, appearing to dance around. This behavior cannot be controlled by the dog. Beginning early, soon after the condition has begun to present itself, these hyperactive tendon reflexes will lead to progressive muscle wasting (atrophy) in the limb. Occasionally, the muscles within the leg will lose the ability to detect motion in the dog, and will be unable to respond to the sensory connection the dog is willing to the limbs for movement. The medical term for this sensory reception and the resultant condition is proprioceptive deficit.

 

Causes

 

The cause of this disease is unknown, but it is suspected, and probable, that the condition is inherited through a recessive trait.

 

 

 

Diagnosis

 

Possible diagnosis that can be made in connection with this condition are lumbosacral stenosis, where there is a narrowing of the last part of the spinal canal, which causes compression of the nerve roots; infection of one or more bones in the spinal column and of the intervertebral discs that join them in the lower lumbar spine (intervertebral disk disease, and discospondylitis, respectively). This condition is usually painful; or, a diagnosis of cancer of the lumbar spinal cord, or of the nerve roots may be made by your veterinarian. This condition has a rapid progression and can be painful for the dog.
 

Diagnostic procedures will include electromyography for recording electrical currents in the muscles, and examining the amount of uncontrolled muscle and nerve behavior (fibrillation) in the legs. The transfer of information from the sensory centers to the motor movement centers (motor and sensory nerve conduction velocity) will be measured and examined to detect progression of the disease. And, a tissue sample taken (biopsy) from the muscles behind the knees will be examined for muscle disease and/or nerve loss.

 

Treatment

 

There is no effective treatment for controlling the clinical signs of this condition, or for altering its progression.

 

Living and Management

 

Several patients have been followed for five years or more and all have remained acceptable as companion pets.

 

 

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