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Common Nervous System Conditions for Some Dog Breeds

Nervous System Conditions for Dog Breeds

Dogs are all about movement; they love walking, running, jumping, wiggling their tails, and more. All of this highlights the importance of their nervous system. Such a critical system within your dog’s body consists of the spinal cord and brain (the Central Nervous System or CNS) and all the nerves between them (Peripheral Nervous System or PNS).

This fantastic and intrinsic system allows our furry friends to control their movements and muscles. Both the CNS and PNS enable our pets to experience life and regulate their bodily functions. But as wonderful as it is, it can also create a variety of diseases when affected.

Still, the ailments may come from different sources such as congenital disabilities, familial disorders, inflammations and infections, nutritional and metabolic disorders, injuries, degenerative diseases, cancer, and much more.

The best veterinary neurologist Oceanside pet parents can find is here with the rest of the team to better explain how nervous system abnormalities affect various small breeds of dogs.

Recognizing Possible Nervous System Diseases Symptoms

Early detection of possible nervous system diseases can be vital to your dog. If you identify any of these symptoms in your dog, schedule an appointment with a Veterinary Neurology Center immediately:


When you see your dog confused or even panicking, this can be a sign of nervous system disease. Regardless of age or breed, disorientation, head tilt, and loss of balance might all be related to the vestibular system in dogs.

Excessive Circling

Again, problems with the vestibular system in control of a dog’s balance might be the cause of excessive spinning or circling in dogs.


Pain can change a dog’s behavior. Pay attention if your dog vocalizes its pain and is also very sensitive to touch.

Seizures and Idiopathic Epilepsy

This type of epilepsy causes seizures and trauma in the dog’s brain. It might also lead to liver disease, brain tumors, and kidney failure, among other illnesses. While the cause of Idiopathic epilepsy is unknown in most dogs, some might also inherit it.

Head Pressing

When a dog presses its head against a wall or any other object without any reason, it might be a sign of damage to the nervous system, specifically the forebrain and thalamus.

Inability to Use Limbs

Muscle weakness and lack of coordination are symptoms of possible degenerative myelopathy. Make sure that you get a proper diagnosis from a Veterinary Neurology Center, as sometimes the weakness and difficulty to move of the legs might look like arthritis when it can be a spinal cord problem.

Sudden Stumbling and Weakness

This symptom is very tricky, as a variety of conditions can cause it. So the better way to address it is to pay attention if your dog is lethargic, stumbling, falling over, weak, and consult your vet for a proper diagnosis. The doctor will refer you to a Veterinary Neurology Center if he finds anything suspicious.

Dog Breeds and Their Nervous System Diseases

Although the conditions that affect a dog’s nervous system do not have a propensity over smaller or larger dogs, we might find some conditions to be particularly aggressive in certain breeds.

For example, Canine Degenerative Myelopathy mainly affects German Shepherds and Rhodesian Ridgebacks, but we can also find it in smaller breeds such as Boxers and Corgis.

A similar situation happens with intervertebral disc disease (IVDD), commonly reported by owners of Pugs, Dachshunds, Spaniels, and Pekes. In contrast, larger dogs might be affected with Lumbosacral, such as German Shepherd dogs.

Basset Hound

Floppy ears, say no more. Basset hounds are an adorable breed with their endearing features. These dogs can get away with anything just by looking into your eyes.

Unfortunately, a lot of basset hounds suffer from intervertebral disc disease. This condition can be painful if left untreated since it makes movement difficult.

Some warning signs to watch out for are the inability or unwillingness to jump, tense muscles or muscle spasms in the back or neck, loss of bladder control, anxious behavior, reduced appetite, and pain or weakness in their hind legs.


Due to their long bodies and short legs, Dachshunds are especially susceptible to back and spine problems.

Similar to basset hounds, dachshunds are also commonly diagnosed with intervertebral disc disease, a condition that involves herniated discs in the lower back. Some signs that your dachshund might have intervertebral disc disease are limping, reluctance to play, or signs of pain when getting pat or scratches.

Other medical issues to watch out for are obesity, hip dysplasia, eye issues such as cataracts, dry eye, and Progressive Retinal Atrophy.


These tiny pups, made famous by the Taco Bell commercials, are often at risk for developing tracheal collapse. This is a common cause of airway obstruction, resulting in an unusual ‘honking’ cough.

Other symptoms include intolerance for exercise, heavy breathing, and blue gums. Tracheal collapse is common in small, toy-breed dogs, and it is important to treat the condition as soon as possible by visiting your veterinarian.

Yorkshire Terrier

The Yorkshire Terrier, or Yorkie, is one of the most popular breeds in America. These little divas have such big personalities in such tiny bodies!

It’s not uncommon for a Yorkie to suffer from digestive issues, so owners should keep an eye on their diets. It’s also possible for Yorkies and other toy breeds like the Chihuahua to suffer from tracheal collapse. The main warning sign to watch out for is a bad cough.

Lastly, Yorkies can also suffer from congenital defects called Portosystemic Shunt (PSS). This condition can decrease liver function and result in behavioral and neurological problems. A dog’s liver filters blood, but for a dog with PSS, the portal vein bypasses the liver, and toxins from the intestines remain in the bloodstream.

Surgery can help correct the issue. Watch out for are vomiting, confusion, and seizures. If your Yorkie seems to be experiencing any of these symptoms, you may want to take it to see the veterinary neurologist.


Another popular dog breed with adorable floppy ears. Beagles are an American favorite, portrayed by cartoon characters like Snoopy, Odie, and Mr. Peabody.

Although epilepsy is possible in any dog breed, it seems to be more common in beagles. Epilepsy is a brain disorder that causes seizures, and dogs with this disorder will usually have their first seizure between 6 months and 3 years old.

Seizures in your dog will look like a twitch or uncontrollable shaking that can last for several seconds to a few minutes.

Cocker Spaniel

Cocker Spaniels are a beautiful companion for any dog lover. For owners of Cocker Spaniels, it’s important to brush their coats and bathe them frequently to keep their long hair in good condition.

Unfortunately, Cocker Spaniels are susceptible to eye disorders, heart and liver disease, and epilepsy. Eye issues may include cherry eye, glaucoma, and cataracts. Their long floppy ears can also be at risk for ear infections and possibly deafness.

Pug/Boston Terrier

One of the main things that these dogs have in common is that they have incredibly cute noses. The problem with short-nosed dog breeds is that they have a combination of small nostrils, an elongated soft palate, and a narrow trachea. This can result in breathing problems and snoring.

Dogs that have short noses and flat faces are known as brachycephalic. They are susceptible to developing symptoms like an elongated soft palate, which means that the tissue between the mouth and nose covers the throat more than it should.

French Bulldog

These lovely dogs already have a tendency to suffer from respiratory problems because of their small nostrils, elongated soft palate, and a narrow trachea. All these genetic traits result from years of selective breeding. Furthermore, it’s not just problems with their respiratory system; their nervous system suffers as well.

According to this study, French Bulldogs are prone to intervertebral disk herniation, other spinal abnormalities, and brain tumors. Always consult with your pet’s veterinarian and get a referral for a veterinary neurology specialist if your small breed dog presents any worrying symptoms.

What Are Some Common Nervous System Conditions?

Brain Disorder

Our dogs’ brains are gifted with multiple cell types carrying on various functions. Therefore, when there is a problem in the neurological system, you might require help from a Veterinary Neurologist to reach a proper conclusion about the health issue and how to treat it.

An expert will be able to address the causes of the different diseases of the nervous system and find the appropriate multidimensional approach to take.

Shaker Syndrome

Shaker syndrome causes the dog’s body to shake uncontrollably. These generalized tremors can be very alarming but far from untreatable. Fortunately, many specialists have prednisone at their disposal to treat this condition.

Prednisone is a steroid that helps suppress your dog’s immune system. We will try to regulate your dog’s symptoms with the lowest possible dose of medication to avoid counterproductive side effects. If prednisone doesn’t work within an acceptable period, we may use other immunosuppressive drugs such as mycophenolate, leflunomide, and Cytosar.

This nervous system problem can also receive the name of “idiopathic cerebellitis,” as colleagues in the field have observed inflammation of the cerebellum -the region of your dog’s brain that coordinates and regulates voluntary movements.-

You may also hear others refer to this health problem as “little white shaker syndrome.” Even though this syndrome can potentially affect any dog breed, there’s a clear prevalence in small animals and small breeds of dogs with white hair coats.

If you have a Maltese, West Highland White Terrier, or Poodle, ask your veterinarian for guidance to watch out for developing symptoms.

Unfortunately, we can only diagnose this condition through a process of exclusion, meaning we must first rule out other physical examinations and in-depth analysis to determine if the disease originates with a problem in your dog’s liver or kidneys. Likewise, we’ll test for other known bacterial or viral infections. If all these results come back negative, we will begin a presumptive treatment for shaker syndrome and observe your pet’s response over the next couple of weeks.

Spinal Cord Diseases

Degenerative Myelopathy and other Spinal issues such as wobbler syndrome (Neck/Cervical spine disease) may affect pets at any age. Still, studies have found that wobbler syndrome usually affects older dogs.

Your vet neurologist will be able to help you with the best care depending on how advanced these conditions are and what type of treatment they need.

Lumbosacral Disease (LS)

Better diagnosed with a CT scan is a condition that compresses the nerves at the base of the spine. A variety of issues might cause spinal pressure, and it can come with or without neurologic dysfunction, so a proper clinical diagnosis is required.

What to Do If We Suspect Neurological Disorders

If you suspect that your dog might have any of the symptoms or conditions mentioned in this article, contact your vet or a veterinary neurology center right away.

Early detection of any disease is critical for the success of the treatment and recovery of the patient. Some treatments may include surgery, various therapies, and exercises.

Take a proactive approach and reach out to a veterinary neurological center or ask your vet for one near your area or look here for further information and request an appointment as soon as possible.

We will make sure to guide you and help your furry friend throughout the whole process. Keeping our dogs healthy and happy is our mission, and we are here for you.