In humans, dyskinesia is an impairment of voluntary movements, such as in Parkinson’s disease. In dogs, however, dyskinesia refers to two different conditions -- ciliary dyskinesia and paroxysmal dyskinesia -- and does not affect voluntary movement. The first condition affects internal body function; the second is often mistaken for a seizure disorder.
Ciliary Dyskinesia or Kartagener Syndrome
Cilia are the small, hairlike structures inside the respiratory tract, auditory tubes, uterine tubes, testes ducts, spinal canal and ventricles of the brain. The cilia serve as filters. In your nose, for instance, they trap dust and other microscopic particles, keeping them from entering the lungs as you breathe. In ciliary dyskinesia, also known as Kartagener syndrome, cilia function is impaired or absent. It is a congenital disorder. Symptoms typically begin at a young age. Male dogs are often sterile, as sperm movement is disabled.
Symptoms and Predisposition
Symptoms of ciliary dyskinesia include mucus discharge from the nose, coughing, sneezing and frequent respiratory infections. Ciliary dyskinesia is seen only in purebred dogs. Breeds include bichon frises, border collies, bull mastiffs, Chihuahuas, chow chows, cocker spaniels, Dalmatians, Doberman pinschers, English setters, golden retrievers, Gordon setters, long-haired dachshunds, miniature poodles, Old English sheepdogs, Newfoundlands, rottweilers, Shar-Peis, springer spaniels, pointers and Staffordshire bull terriers.
If your veterinarian suspects ciliary dyskinesia, a mucus biopsy and an analysis of ciliary beat frequency are necessary to confirm diagnosis. The condition has no treatment or cure, but standard regimens of antibiotics are sometimes necessary to treat secondary infections like bacterial rhinosinusitis, bronchopneumonia and ear infections.
Paroxysmal or Episodic Dyskinesia
Another form of dyskinesia in dogs is paroxysmal or episodic dyskinesia. You may hear of it as atypical seizures, Chinook seizures and Bichon dyskinesia. Symptoms are similar to seizures and include hyperflexion of limbs, loss of coordination and stability, uncontrollable trembling and the inability to walk. Unlike with seizures, however, an affected dog maintains consciousness and is able to follow basic commands during an episode. Not much is known about the condition or its causes. The University of Minnesota and the University of Missouri veterinary colleges, through the Canine Epilepsy Project, are conducting studies on this condition. If your dog suffers these episodes, consult your veterinarian to first rule out traditional seizures.
- Merriam-Webster: Dyskinesia
- PetMD: Uncoordinated Cilia Function in Dogs
- Dogged Health: Primary Ciliary Dyskinesia
- Canine Epilepsy Network: Chinook “Seizures”
- Bichon Frise Club of America, Inc.: Involuntary Movement Disorder (Bichon Dyskinesia)
- University of Minnesota Veterinary and Biomedical Sciences: Atypical Collapse in Labrador Retrievers
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