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Lagotto-Romagnolo

Dog Study May Inform On Human Neurodegeneration

Novel neurodegenerative disease and gene identified with the help of ‘man’s best friend’

A breakthrough study performed in an international collaboration led by Professor Tosso Leeb from the University of Bern and Professor Hannes Lohi from the University of Helsinki together with the veterinary neurologists and neuropathologists at the Faculty of Veterinary Medicine in the University of Helsinki has identified a gene mutation that causes a novel type of neurodegenerative disease in dogs. The results of the study shed light into the function of neurons, provide a new gene for human neurodegeneration, and may aid in developing better treatments for neurodegenerative disorders. The study was published in the journal PLoS Genetics on 15.4.2015.

Finnish and Swiss investigators have made a genetic breakthrough in the Lagotto Romagnolo dog breed. The breed originates from Italy and is known for its skills in truffle hunting. These dogs have interested genetic researchers due to the existence of several rare neurological conditions in the breed. The current study revealed a novel type of neurodegenerative disease, characterized by cerebellar dysfunction and movement incoordination. Some affected dogs also suffered from abnormal eye movements and developed behavioral changes, such as restlessness and aggression. The onset of the clinical signs varies from 4 months to 4 years.
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From Web MD: https://pets.webmd.com/dogs/dog-falling-down
Little kids love spinning in place until they fall down. But when we’re talking about our dogs, there’s really no good reason for loss of balance.
So why do dogs fall down? Is it possible to treat loss of balance? And when should your canine companion see a vet?

When to See a Vet

Injury, stroke, poisoning, infections can all cause your dog to lose its balance. Because these things can be dangerous or even life-threatening, don’t hesitate to call your vet immediately if your dog is falling down.

Dog Loss of Balance: Common Causes and Treatments

A few of the more common causes of falling down in dogs include:
Vestibular Syndrome. Vestibular syndrome is caused by dysfunction of the inner ear. Because the symptoms occur suddenly, they are sometimes confused with symptoms of stroke. Along with loss of balance and falling over, signs may include head tilt, walking in circles, vomiting, nausea, and flicking of the eyes from side to side.
Treating vestibular syndrome depends on the cause. Many dogs need support for secondary symptoms such as nausea, vomiting, and dehydration.
Ear Infection. Inner ear infections are a common cause of dogs losing their balance. Other symptoms include head shaking and scratching, eye flicking, walking in circles. Often there may be redness, swelling, discharge, and odor associated with the affected ear.
Left untreated, infections of the external parts of the ear can move deeper, become more serious, and lead to complications like inner ear infection or meningitis. So always have your dog seen by a veterinarian if you suspect an ear infection. Treating ear infections may include a professional cleaning, topical medications, antibiotics, and possibly surgery for chronic or serious infections.
Injury. Injuries such as head trauma or damage to the inner ear can cause dogs to lose their balance. Your dog can’t tell you when it’s in pain, and dogs sometimes mask hurt with behaviors such as wagging their tail. So it’s important to be aware of canine signs of pain. They include slower reflexes, heavy panting, biting or licking the wounded area, anxiety, enlarged pupils, reluctance to lie down, and change in appetite.
Stroke. Strokes in dogs are fairly uncommon. But they do happen. A stroke can be caused by many things, including blood clots, hemorrhage, head trauma, high blood pressure, kidney disease, and even migrating worms. Symptoms of stroke in dogs include loss of balance, head tilt, circling, falling down, and loss of vision.
Treating stroke involves managing the underlying problem and preventing additional strokes. It also includes caring for the aftereffects of a stroke.
Tumors. Brain tumors are common in older dogs. They can also happen in younger dogs, especially boxers and Boston terriers. Brain tumors can lead to a loss of balance as well as a host of other symptoms.
The exact symptoms depend on the tumor and its location. They may include seizures, behavior changes, changes in appetite or thirst, signs of pain, head tilt, swaying, a wide stance, lack of coordination, head tremors, flicking of the eye, and pacing. Treating brain tumors may involve chemotherapy, radiation therapy, surgery, and other care.

Other Reasons for Loss of Balance in Dogs

Any process which causes inflammation of the brain — referred to as encephalitis — may cause a dog to lose its balance. Encephalitis can result from tick-borne diseases, fungal infections, protozoal infections, and many other causes. Other signs include fever and depression.
Your vet can help you and your pet share a long and happy life together. If you have any questions about your dog’s health, be sure to talk to your veterinarian about your concerns.