The Deadly Krabbe Disease That Affects Dogs

Some dogs can get a rare disease call Krabbe disease. It is always fatal. The disease will cause the dogs nervous system to degenerate. Puppie usually do not show signs of the disease. The first symptoms you will see are that the dog is uncordinated and will have tremors. The disease also affect humans. It is most common in Cairn terriers and West Higland terriers. Other breeds will get the disease as well.

Krabbe disease is believed to be inherited.  It is a very rare disease that will attack the dogs central nervous system   Humans and other animals also can develop this disease.  Krabbe disease is also known as globoid cell leukodystrophy (GCL).

With Krabbe disease the dog will have increased muscle tone and stiffness and poor motor control.  He will also have vision problems, seizures and sometimes a loss of hearing.

Krabbe disease is one of many rare diseases that will cause the degeneration of the dog’s nervous system.  A dog’s body has many nerves that are protected by what is called a myelin sheath.  A mutation of the gene that controls the development of the myelin sheath causes Krabbe disease.  This mutation disturbs the growth of the sheath and this will cause the nerves not to work properly. 

The myelin sheath protects the nerves in the brain and spinal cord.  The myelin sheath develops until the dog is about 18 months old.  When the myelin can not function properly the nerve cells in the brain and other parts of the body are damaged and destroyed.

Puppies do not usually show signs of the disease.  The disease will progress and result in a break down of the nervous system.  The first symptoms of the disease are the dog will not be able to control his legs and he will have tremors and muscle weakness.  The dog will loose the use of his legs as the disease progresses.

There is no treatment available for Krabbe disease in dogs.  The dog will usually die at a very young age.  In humans sometime a bone marrow transplant or stem cell transplant will be successful.  This treatment will slow down the progression of the disease in humans but is not available for dogs at this time.

The dog breeds most susceptible to this disease are Cairn Terriers, Bluetick Coonhounds and West Highland terriers.  Beagles, poodles, basset hounds, Pomeranians are also susceptible to this disease.

The dog that suspected of having Krabbe disease can be blood tested for GCL.  The disease will progress very fast in some dog breeds.  Puppies that have the disease will look normal but will grow slow and be smaller than the other puppies in the litter.  Dogs that have Krabbe disease usually die or are put to sleep before they become adults.

When you decide to get a purebred puppy always buy it from a reputable breeder. This will help eliminate some of the inherited health problems dogs can develop.

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Roberta Baxter
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Roberta Baxter
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norlaw
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Richard Wassem
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Posted on Feb 19, 2012