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Wobbly Gait

Wobbly Gait

The dog or cat has a wobbly walk, this muscle weakness causes difficulty in walking. Wobbly gait in pets, also known as wobbler syndrome and cervical spondylomyelopathy, is a medical condition that can affect both cats and dogs. Wobbly gait is characterized by an unsteady gait caused by compression of the spinal column or nerves. In many cases, this is a hereditary condition that affects large dog breeds such as: Great Danes, Irish Wolfhounds, Rottweilers and Dobermans. However, it can affect any animal if there is damage to the spinal column.

How to Recognize

Ataxia, informally known as wobbly gait, is a common symptom to a large variety of health conditions in both cats and dogs. Furthermore, there are three types of ataxia: sensory, cerebellar and vestibular. While each type will affect the limbs, cerebellar and vestibular ataxia can affect the head and neck as well. Wobbly gait is a symptom that is characterized by a loss of coordination of the limbs, trunk and/or head. Depending on the type of ataxia that your pet may be suffering from, wobbly gait can result in such abnormal bodily movements as those which you can find listed here: Misplacement of the Feet, Taking Large and/or Odd Steps, Progressive Weakness in the Legs, Leaning to One Side, Body Swaying, Tipping, Falling or Rolling Over, Unusual Eye Movements, Head and/or Body Tremors and Drowsiness or Stupor.

Causes of Wobbly Gait

There are basically two things that can result in wobbly gait, and they are spinal cord compression and damage to the vestibulocochlear nerve. When the spinal cord becomes compressed for one reason or another, sensory ataxia can result. Vestibular and/or cerebellar ataxia can develop if there is any type of damage to the vestibulocochlear nerve that carries information from the inner ear to the brain.


For your veterinarian to make a correct diagnosis, you will need to provide a thorough medical history of your pet. This should include when your dogs or cat's symptoms began and any possible incidents that may have caused trauma to your pet. After collecting your pet's history, the vet will then perform some or all of the following tests: Blood Chemical Profile, Complete Blood Count, Urinalysis, Electrolyte Panel, Computed Tomography, Magnetic Resonance Imaging, Myelography, Spinal Chest and/or Abdominal X-rays, Abdominal Ultrasound and Laboratory Analysis of Cerebrospinal Fluid.

Similar Symptoms

It is essential to note that there may be times when pets display behavior that looks like ataxia but is actually not. For example, sudden heart failure can cause a pet to collapse or fall over. Blindness can cause stupor-like behavior in many pets. Additionally, epileptic seizures can cause pets to sway, fall over or tremble.

Possible Conditions

There are numerous health conditions that can cause wobbly gait, or ataxia, in dogs and cats. Additionally, while some of these conditions can be easily treated and cured, others cannot be cured. You will find some of the most common of these health issues listed here: Abiotrophy (Loss of Function of the Cerebellum), Secondary Infections Associated with Feline Leukemia, Cysts on the Brain or Spine, Cervical Spondylomyelopathy, Vestibular Disease, Various Forms of Cancer, Feline Infectious Peritonitis, Poisoning, Middle Ear Infections, Trauma/Injuries, Spinal Cord Degeneration and Severe Anemia and Hypoglycemia.

Treatment for Wobbly Gait

Treatment for wobbly gait depends on the condition that is causing the symptom in the first place. While some conditions may require intensive treatment, others may not. However, in any case, treatment for ataxia-related conditions may include one or several of the following medications and procedures: Inducing Vomiting (poisoning), Activated Charcoal (poisoning), Special Diets, Antibiotics, Anti-Seizure Medications, Corticosteroids, Surgery and Chemotherapy (cancer). Wobbly gait, also known as ataxia, is a common symptom of various health issues in both dogs and cats. If your pet is displaying this symptom, it is best to seek veterinary help right away. While wobbly gait can be a sign of several minor health issues, it can also indicate a variety of serious conditions.

Pet Insurance

When adding a dog or cat to your family you want to make sure your pet is happy, healthy and protected. During its lifetime your pet is exposed to many illnesses and diseases and some breeds are affected by a congenital disease which is a condition existing at birth. At these moments when your pet is ill or maybe needs surgery, you want to be protected for the unexpected and high veterinarian costs.

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