Wobbler Disease in Dogs and Cats

Common info

Wobbler disease or cervical instability is commonly known to relate to the cervical spine malformation, causing nerve compression and deformed bone structure. The disease normally found in dogs of over 3 years’ age but rarely found in cats. The dog breeds that are more prone to the disease include Dobermans, Rottweilers, Great Danes, Irish wolfhounds, and Basset Hounds.


Wobbler disease in dogs and cats is considered a genetic disorder as its abnormalities are found only in some specific breeds. In some cases, the disease may be caused by excessive proteins, calcium, and calories. 


Wobbler disease or cervical instability may an effect of several factors, such as the compression of the cervical spine on the nerves and spinal cord, causing pain in the neck. Also, this may be caused by the intervertebral disc slippage, making the nerves to compress; or the bony malformation, making the bony canal surrounding the spinal cord to narrow.


  • Strange wobbly gait
  • Neck pain
  • Neck stiffness
  • Short-stride walking
  • Lack of strength to walk

The symptoms found in Wobbler diseases in dogs and cats include strange wobbly gait, neck pain or neck stiffness, lack of strength to walk, short-stride walking.  Some dogs may experience weaknesses in the front limbs that disable them to walk, spasm, possible muscle loss near the shoulders and difficulty getting up from lying position.

Treatment and Prevention

Treatment varies based on the location of the spinal cord compression and the severity of the symptoms. Dogs that cannot walk should be kept on soft bedding and turned to lie on the other sides every 4 hours to prevent bedsores from developing. Medically treated dogs typically need to have their activities restricted for at least 2 months. Surgery often offers the best chance of improvement, but there is also a small risk of significant complications. After surgery, physical therapy will require per the veterinarian’s instructions.

  1. Wikipedia | Wobbler disease
  2. Honestdocs | Wobbler syndrome in dogs
  3. Petmd | Wobbler syndrome
  4. James D. Lincoln DVM, MS. 1992.Cervical Vertebral Malformation/Malarticulation Syndrome in Large Dogs. Veterinary Clinics of North America: Small Animal Practice. 22(1): 923-935.
  5. Ronaldo C. da Costa DMV, MSc, PhD. 2010. Cervical Spondylomyelopathy (Wobbler Syndrome) in Dogs. Veterinary Clinics of North America: Small Animal Practice. 40(5): 881-913.
  6. T. A. Mason. 1997. CERVICAL VERTEBRAL INSTABILITY (WOBBLER SYNDROME) IN THE DOBERMAN. Australian Veterinary Journal. 53: 440-445.
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