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Gangliosidosis in dogs… What is it? And how can I improve my dogs quality of life?

For those of us that are old enough to remember the Disney movie Mary Poppin’s you can be forgiven for thinking about the song that goes like this….

“It’s supercalifragilisticexpialidocious

Even though the sound of it is something quite atrocious

If you say it loud enough, you’ll always sound precocious

Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious”

When first hearing about the medical condition known as gangliosidosis, but because of the seriousness of this condition, it’s important to not get too distracted by its name.

This is why…

In this article, we wanted to take a moment and try to discuss exactly what gangliosidosis is in layman terms so that if you have a dog that has been diagnosed with this condition, you’ll have a better idea of what to expect during his or her treatment.

So, without further ado, let’s dive right in.

Gangliosidosis defined

Gangliosidosis is also known as storage disease, and it’s basically where your dog’s metabolism doesn’t function the way it should which inevitably leads to a series of different neurological problems

The good news is…

That gangliosidosis in dogs is fairly rare disease.  And while it can lead to other health complications, through proper treatment, it is possible for your loved one to be able to live a quality life despite some of the symptoms he or she may develop.

What is Gangliosidosis?

Gangliosidosis is a genetic disorder that leads to storage buildup within the ganglion which are never cells.  This “build up” prevents the brain from being able to get old molecules when new ones grow. And, as you can imagine, this leads to all sorts of problems since the brain controls the whole body.

Which breeds are impacted?

Since it’s a genetic condition some dogs are more at risk than others. Those dogs include, but are not limited to:

  • Shorthaired Pointers
  • Portuguese Water Dogs
  • Springer Spaniels and possibly other Spaniels
  • Beagles and Beagle mixes
  • Japanese Chins
  • German Shepherd

Symptoms and Clinical Signs of Gangliosidosis in Dogs

Storage diseases can lead to a number of problems due to its impact on the neurological system. These symptoms could range from:

  • Sudden lack of coordination (aka falling down),
  • Head shaking,
  • Seizures,
  • Vision loss,
  • Lethargy,
  • Weight loss
  • and more.

The problem is that…

Many of these symptoms are a bit “vague” and not necessarily just limited to gangliosidosis.  Plus, there are a lot of different “storage diseases” that a dog can suffer which will share many of these same symptoms which is why it’s important to have your dog examined by a professional veterinarian if you suspect that he or she might be suffering from some “type” of neurological condition.

Because while it is…

Possible that your dog could be suffering from gangliosidosis, it also possible that he or she may be suffering from any number of other neurological conditions including but not limited to:

  • Mucopolysaccaridosis
  • Krabbe Disease
  • Batten Disease
  • Gaucher Disease
  • Ceroid lipofuscinosis
  • Sphimgomyelinosis

It’s also possible…

That your dog actually isn’t suffering from a neurological problem at all but rather is simply suffering from some type of physical pain that could be preventing him or her from moving properly.

This is why…

If you see any change in your dog’s movement or behavior, you should take him/her to the vet. Because gangliosidosis is not an easy disorder to diagnose, so it’s best left to the trained experts at the veterinarian clinic.

That said however…

Once your veterinarian has the opportunity to examine your pet, it’s likely that he or she will order an MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) of the brain of your dog to determine the state of the myelin (the protective tissues surrounding your dog’s neurons) in the brain.

He or she will also…

Likely do a complete blood count, among other blood tests to check for other possibilities. The number of white blood cells will be indicative of an infection (if high). Lastly, the vet may want to test the bone marrow. The tissue will be analyzed for certain molecular traits found in dogs with gangliosidosis.

Treatment of gangliosidosis in dogs
Unfortunately, there is no cure for gangliosidosis. As a degenerative disease it’s only going to slowly get worse from here. The best thing you can do for your dog is to make small lifestyle changes for him/her in order to ensure the best possible quality of life in a bad circumstance. This is called palliative care and your veterinarian can probably make some solid recommendations.

Prognosis of gangliosidosis in dogs

Ultimately, this unfortunately disease results in death.  But when that may occur is anyone’s guess because how quickly or slowly this condition will worsen will vary significantly from one dog to the next.

For pet owners…

What you’ll want to do is simply try and make every possible accommodation you can to your dog’s living environment so that he or she is as comfortable as possible and just make sure that he or she is not in pain.

Which brings us to…

Where we like to remind folks that we here at IndulgeYourPet are not doctors, veterinarians or medical professionals.  All we are is a bunch of folks who just happen to be extremely passionate about animals and only want to see what’s best for them.

This is why…

Even though their may not be a cure for gangliosidosis in dogs, it’s still important to create a “treatment plan” with a veterinarian so that you can ensure that you’re doing everything possible to create the best “quality” of life for your loved one.

The problem is…

Like we said before, diagnosing this condition can be tricky, and can involve the administration of various tests.  All of which have a tendency to be rather expensive.

And unlike…

Some other illnesses, your vet isn’t going to be able to simply look at your dog and know what’s going on. No. To get a clear diagnosis – and ensure it’s nothing else – your dog will need these tests.

This is why…

We here at IndulgeYourPet always like to remind folks that it’s always a good idea to determine just how much it would cost to purchase a quality pet insurance policy for their animal so that if they ever are diagnosed with a serious medical condition of do suffer from a serious accident, you as the owner won’t be stuck with 100% of his or her medical bills.

For more information on who we feel currently offers the “Best” pet insurance policies in the industry, feel free to check out our Best Pet Insurance Companies article.

Now if you don’t…

Already have insurance in place, chances are these tests will be something that you will need to pay for out of pocket, but hopefully they will be able to rule out any serious cause of disease and provide you with a clear idea on what you’ll need to do to get your pet healthy once again.

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