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Cerebellar Hypoplasia in Dogs and How to Improve Mobility

Cerebellar Hypoplasia is a hereditary condition in which a pet’s cerebellum is smaller than normal. Dogs and cats with a smaller cerebellum will show clinical signs such as difficulty maintaining balance, struggle with coordination, and have a wobbly gait when walking.

What is Cerebellar Hypoplasia?

Pets with cerebellar hypoplasia are born with a smaller than usual or underdeveloped cerebellum. The cerebellum is a specific part of the brainstem, when this segment of a dog’s brain doesn’t fully develop it impacts how the dog moves. This section of the brainstem controls motor function in a dog’s body, causing a pet with CH to struggle with it’s motor skills. Dogs and cats with the condition struggle to walk normally, maintaining balance, and coordination.

Signs and Symptoms

dog wheelchair for cerebellar hypoplaysia

Most puppies are diagnosed with the congenital condition very young, as cerebellar hypoplasia symptoms present quickly after birth. CH puppies may even show symptoms before they open their eyes. Most pets with cerebellar hypoplasia will begin to show obvious signs of the condition as soon as they start to walk. These symptoms include:

  • Uncontrolled tremors, often most notable in the head
  • Loss of balance
  • Lack of coordination
  • No control over fine motor skills
  • Exaggerated movements, especially when walking
  • Wide stance
  • Intention tremors – head shakes or bobs when the dog focuses on a task, like eating out of the bowl.

If a puppy is displaying these symptoms, most likely the Vet will recommend an MRI to confirm the diagnosis. Although, it can occur in any breed, this neurological condition is most common in Chow Chows, Irish Setters, Airedales, Boston Terriers and Wirehaired Fox Terriers.

Treating CH in Pets

improve mobility for cerebellar hypoplasia dog

There is no cure for cerebellar hypoplasia. Instead, treatment will focus on improving the dog’s mobility, through therapy, support, and most likely, a dog wheelchair. It’s important for pet parents to understand that this neural condition will not worsen over time, and most pets adapt so that they can perform basic functions and go on to live a relatively normal life.

CH should not impact a dog’s lifespan. Aside from tremors and the inability to control their motor function, the pet should expect to live a relatively normal life. Most dogs with this condition will require additional care and attention, and those most impacted will likely rely on a full support wheelchair for their entire life. As the puppy or kitten grows up, they learn to compensate for their condition and can live a long, happy, and pain-free life.

Dog Wheelchairs for Cerebellar Hypoplasia

Due to their uncoordinated movement, many pets with cerebellar hypoplasia benefit greatly from using a dog wheelchair. A full support or 4-wheel wheelchair provides the support they need to maintain their balance and help keep the mobile. Regular use of full support wheelchair help cerebellar hypoplasia dogs stay upright and on all four legs, allowing them to build up strength. The quad cart can also be used during canine rehab sessions.

Stairs and uneven ground can be challenging and unsafe for pets with this condition. Make sure that your pet is always supervised to avoid accidents.

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Meet Tilly

Tilly was born with cerebellar hypoplasia, but she’s a fighter. At three-months-old, Yorkipoo took her first steps thanks to her Mini Quad Walkin’ Wheels Wheelchair. With the balance and support of her new wheelchair, Tilly will be able to exercise and can now learn how to go potty on her own. Watch Tilly take her first steps in her new wheelchair in the video below:


Luckily, a dog or cat with cerebellar hypoplasia can live a good quality of life. Although it’s likely that your pet will require support, and lots of care, CH should not impact a dog’s lifespan. As long as your dog retains enough coordination to control basic function and stay active, your pet should live a long and happy life.

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