Thanks to Lauren and her family to taking the time to share their experience of life with their Bullmastiff, Dalton. Dalton has cerebellar hypoplasia, a congenital disease where the cerebellum (the part of the brain that controls motor functions) does not fully develop. Lauren shares their story with us, and offers her advice for others caring for a dog with cerebellar hypoplasia.
Could you tell us how you came to realise Dalton had cerebellar hypoplasia?
My family and I starting noticing that there was something not quite right with Dalton when he was 8 weeks of age. He walked with an over the top gait, like a dressage pony! He was flamboyant to say the least!
We took him to the vet and they also thought there could be an underlying issue with him. The vets did a number of tests, including the ‘cotton wool’ test, which he was unresponsive to. We just assumed that he had the attention span of a gnat. After a few months, our local vet referred us to a specialist neurologist to see what they thought of this special case that no one had seen before. They landed with a diagnosis of Cerebellar Hypoplasia. They could not diagnose him fully, due to it being a bad idea to put Dalton under anaesthetic for an MRI. The vet’s conclusion was to carry on with his happy, mischievous ways until he was 6 months old for a follow up consultation with the specialists.
After the second consultation at 6 months, they were still adamant that it was Cerebellar Hypoplasia. They told us to give him a happy life for however long he is with us. He is now nearly a year old and has an amazing quality of life that we have provided for him.
What's a regular day like with Dalton?
A regular day with Dalton is quite simple, which works for him. We live on a farm, which he loves. I get up, and try wrestle him to get out of bed. He then goes outside for the toilet and has a sniff about. He’s a very fussy and irregular eater, so sometimes he doesn’t want breakfast but never says no to his favourite pedigree chicken treats! He has Gold CBD oil morning and night on a treat, to see if this helps him with the condition.
Dalton always likes to cause havoc before I have to leave to work. Swinging rope toys, digging the sofa, and pestering me to play. I’m always late for work! He has one last toilet check before I leave. He wears little wellie boots when he goes outside, as sometimes he falls and can scratch the sides of his paws when he gets back up. When he has bad days, he wears pyjama trousers so he does not catch his hocks. I have a camera system, so I can watch him from work, which is amazing. But usually when I check on him, he’s always asleep.
Every time I come home from work, he’s always waiting at the door, wagging his tail in all different motions. Our evenings consist of work around the farm and bedding down the horses. Unfortunately, he can’t go out on the farm as much as he previously has. To help with this, we bought him a festival trolley! This makes his getting from A to B a lot easier, especially with a short walk to my parents’ house down the lane. He has learnt to sit still, and gets lots of treats along the way. When we arrive with him in his carriage, he bounds into the house to greet everyone. He gets so excited, which makes my day. He shows so much love for my family.
Weekends usually consist of odd jobs and relaxing. This suits Dalton, as he sleeps in a lot and lounges about the house. We usually commute to my grandparents’ & friends’ houses for visits. He settles in wherever I take him, and takes the day in his stride. He does get tired quickly, so we try and rest him when we can. In the evenings we mostly wind down and watch television. My siblings make a fort/padded area on the floor, where they usually play and have cuddles with Dalton. He is such an attention seeker, and paws at you for attention. How can we resist his face?
What products can help dogs with cerebellar hypoplasia?
We are currently issuing CBD oil Gold twice a day. This was recommended by a friend, that has used the oil on her dog with hip dysplasia. It’s a natural product which I was happy to use, seeing all the positive reviews. Also, there was enough information on possible side effects which were unlikely. We keep a close eye on him in case he changes.
We have also bought soft gymnastics matts to overlay the laminate flooring. This gives him a soft cushioning, if he falls/slips.
Have you tried any physical therapy with Dalton?
We tried hydrotherapy at our local vets, as again, positive reviews with hip dysplasia. Unfortunately, after half a dozen sessions, he couldn’t work out how to use the conveyor belt in the pool. We came to the conclusion that hydrotherapy wasn’t for him.
Do you have any final words for others who might find themselves in a similar position?
My advice to anyone who is put into a situation like myself, is to never ever give up on your dog if he can have a good quality of life. Dalton, with his condition, does not make him any less of a dog. He just can’t walk as far or walk as straight. The love and joy Dalton brings to myself and my family is out of this world. I would not change anything about him, or change him as a whole. His paw prints have stuck to our hearts.
Thanks to Lauren and her family for sharing their experience with cerebellar hypoplasia. Be sure to check out Edna's story for another great example of a dog with cerebellar hypoplasia living life to the full.
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