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How Common Is Syringomyelia in Dogs?

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  • Written By: Erin J. Hill
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 14 November 2016
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The prevalence of syringomyelia in dogs is not exactly known, although it is found more often in some breeds. Certain terriers, poodles, and Brussels griffon are amongst those that are most commonly affected. Other breeds may have very few instances of the disorder at all. Just as there are various breeds which are most affected, the severity of symptoms also ranges widely amongst dogs and breeds. This may make the true number of cases harder to pinpoint, since symptoms in many sufferers may go undetected.

Although the exact number of dogs who have syringomyelia is not known, it is a relatively uncommon condition in most dogs. Breeders also work to ensure that puppies do not have genetic defects, so dogs with the inherited variety of this condition are not bred. Carriers are also typically not used for breeding.

Syringomyelia is a condition which causes fluid to build up around the spine. There are two forms of the condition. One is inherited and may begin to cause issues within the first six months of a dog’s life. The other is acquired and can be contracted at any time. As with many illnesses, the acquired variety may be more common in dogs with compromised immune systems, and in the very old or very young.

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This condition can also affect humans, although the form that causes symptoms in people is not caused by the same factors. Syringomyelia in dogs can range from barely noticeable to debilitating for the dog. Some dogs may suffer from severe pain, and they may eventually lose the ability to walk. Those with pain that cannot be managed may need to be euthanized, although this is a very personal decision which should be made by the dog’s owners.

Many cases of syringomyelia in dogs can be successfully managed with prescription medication. Medicine is most effective when the condition is caught early and drugs are began right away. Early symptoms of syringomyelia in dogs can include whimpering, continuous scratching of the neck, and whining. Some may yelp or screech for no apparent reason.

Testing should be done by a licensed veterinarian to rule out other potential causes for pain. There are many more common injuries or ailments which could be to blame. If syringomyelia is detected, medication may be started right away. The effectiveness of treatment will typically depend on which type of the condition is present, how early it was caught, the age of the animal, and whether there are other health problems present.

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