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

For those of us who are old enough to remember the Disney movie Mary Poppin, 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


When first hearing about the medical condition known as gangliosidosis, it’s essential not to get too distracted by its name because of its seriousness. This is why, in this article, we wanted to take a moment and try to discuss precisely what gangliosidosis is in layperson’s 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 their 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 as it should, which inevitably leads to a series of different neurological problems. The good news is that gangliosidosis in dogs is a relatively rare disease. While it can lead to other health complications, proper treatment allows your loved one to live despite some symptoms they may develop.

What is Gangliosidosis?

Gangliosidosis is a genetic disorder that leads to storage buildup within the ganglion, which are never cells. This “buildup” prevents the brain from being able to get old molecules when new ones grow. As you can imagine, this leads to many 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:

Symptoms and Clinical Signs of Gangliosidosis

Storage diseases can lead to several problems due to their impact on the neurological system. These symptoms could range from:

  • Sudden lack of coordination (aka falling),
  • 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 essential to have your dog examined by a professional veterinarian if you suspect that they might be suffering from some “type” of neurological condition.

Because while it is…

It is possible that your dog could be suffering from gangliosidosis; it is also possible that they 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 isn’t suffering from a neurological problem but is simply suffering from some physical pain that could prevent it from moving correctly.

This is why…

If you see any change in your dog’s movement or behavior, you should take them to the vet. Because gangliosidosis is not an easy disorder to diagnose, it’s best left to the trained experts at the veterinarian clinic. However, once your veterinarian has the opportunity to examine your pet, they will likely order an MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) of your dog’s brain to determine the state of the myelin (the protective tissues surrounding your dog’s neurons) in the brain.

They will also…

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

Treatment Options

Unfortunately, there is no cure for gangliosidosis. As a degenerative disease, it will only get worse from here slowly. The best thing you can do for your dog is make small lifestyle changes to ensure the best possible quality of life in dire circumstances. This is called palliative care; your veterinarian can probably make some solid recommendations.

Prognosis of gangliosidosis in dogs

Ultimately, this unfortunate 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, you’ll want to try and make every possible accommodation to your dog’s living environment so that they are as comfortable as possible and just make sure they are not in pain.

Which brings us to…

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 are highly passionate about animals and only want to see what’s best for them.

This is why even though there may not be a cure for gangliosidosis in dogs, it’s still essential to create a “treatment plan” with a veterinarian so that you can ensure that you’re doing everything possible to make the best “quality” of life for your loved one. As we said before, diagnosing this condition can be tricky and involves administering various tests. All of which tend to be rather expensive.

And unlike…

With other illnesses, your vet can’t look at your dog and know what’s happening. No. Your dog will need these tests to get a precise diagnosis – and ensure it’s nothing else. 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 severe medical condition or do suffer from a severe accident, you as the owner won’t be stuck with 100% of their medical bills.

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

Now, if you don’t…

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

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