Atlanto Axial Subluxation
What is Atlanto Axial Subluxation?
The first two vertebra in the neck, just behind the skull, are the atlas and axis vertebra. The spinal cord runs within the canal inside them. If the two vertebra are not aligned properly, the spinal cord can be compressed as it passes from one vertebrae to the next. This can cause neck pain or even weakness and paralysis in the legs. In severe cases, flexion of the neck can compress the cord to so great an extent that it can cause respiratory arrest and death.
How does my dog get Atlanto Axial Subluxation?
The condition is most often congenital in toy dogs. In larger dogs, it is more likely a result of trauma.
How do I know if my dog has Atlanto Axial Subluxation?
Neck pain followed by weakness in all four limbs, are the most common signs. Paralysis may also be seen. Signs may get worse with activity, especially if the neck is flexed. Your veterinarian will take radiographs (X-rays), usually with the dog anesthetized. Advanced diagnostics include magnetic resonance imaging.
What can I do about Atlanto Axial Subluxation?
If your dog's only sign is neck pain, you may be able to improve the condition by having your dog wear a neck brace and confining him to a crate for several weeks. If neck pain recurs, or if weakness or paralysis is involved, then surgery is the treatment of choice.
Is there anything I can do to prevent my dog from getting Atlanto Axial Subluxation?
Avoid trauma to your dog's neck, or avoid buying a puppy from a family of dogs that has a lot of affected individuals.
Are there certain breeds that get Atlanto Axial Subluxation more often?
Young (less than 12 months old) Toy breed dogs (Poodles, Chihuahuas, Pekingese) are at risk for congenital malformation.