Congenital cerebellar abnormalities have been described in many species. Cerebellar hypoplasia associated with an in utero or a neonatal viral infection is most common in cats and cattle and has been reported in pigs, goats and chickens. However, congenital cerebellar disorders such as genetic cerebellar malformations of unknown causes and cerebellar abiotrophies also occur in sheep and several breeds of dogs.
Cerebellar hypoplasia is a type of brain disease marked by incomplete development of the cerebellum. The cerebellum ("little brain") is the part of brain that lies behind the brain stem in the base of skull. Its function is to coordinate voluntary movements, maintain balance, and coordinate posture. A hereditary form has been reported in the Airedale Terrier, Chow Chow, and Gordon Setter. A non-hereditary from has been described in the Bull Terrier, Dachshund, Weimaraner, Cairn Terrier, and Labrador Retriever. Signs appear at about 4-8 weeks of age and are similar to those observed in cerebellar degeneration. These increase in severity and the puppy adopts a stance with the legs apart. Some affected dogs develop a tremor of the head that becomes more pronounced when walking or running. The sense of balance is disturbed and falls are frequent. Some animals may develop hydrocephalus. Several causes have been suggested, including canine herpes virus, which causes extensive inflammation in multiple systems, and canine parvovirus. Canine parvovirus infection should be considered in the differential diagnosis for puppies with congenital cerebellar disease. No treatment is available.
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