Cerebellar Abiotrophy

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    Abiotrophy literally means loss of vital nutritional substances. Cerebellar abiotrophy is a degenerative disorder of the central nervous system characterized by premature degeneration of fully formed cerebellar neurons. The disease has been described in most of the domestic animals, including cattle, horses, sheep, cats, and dogs.

    Signs & Symptoms

    Neurological signs are not seen immediately after birth and become apparent at a few weeks to a few months of age, progressing either slowly or rapidly. Signs have been well characterized in many breeds and are similar to those seen in the degenerative cerebellar disease:

    • Inability to control the distance
    • Power and speed of movement
    • Overreaching the desired object
    • Lack of menace response

    The cause of cerebellar abiotrophy is currently unknown, but it is presumed to be an inherited genetic abnormality.


    No treatment is available. Cerebellar abiotrophy is suspected to be inherited in the:


    Coordination of movement is governed by the portion of the brain called the cerebellum. An animal with a cerebellar disease can move voluntarily, and the actions are strong, but they are jerky and often excessive. The animal may sway when standing, stagger and fall, pick its feet up too high when walking (high-stepping), quickly bob its head up and down when attempting to eat, and tilt its head.

    In the Rough Collie, signs of movement incoordination begin 1 to 2 months of age; in the Gordon setter clinical signs begin around 6 to 30 months and slowly progress for several years; in the Kerry Blue Terrier signs may begin at 8 to 16 weeks of age.

    Video Credits: extremekrt
    Image Credits: Montanabw, Wikipedia


    1. Rodney Bagley – Fundamentals of Veterinary Clinical Neurology
    2. Michael Schaer – Clinical Medicine of the Dog and Cat
    3. Gumber et al. – Late Onset of Cerebellar Abiotrophy In A Boxer Dog
    4. Huska et al. – Cerebellar Granuloprival Degeneration In An Australian Kelpie And A Labrador Retriever Dog


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