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Ask Dr. Michael Salkin Your Own Question
Dr. Michael Salkin
Dr. Michael Salkin, Veterinarian
Category: Dog Veterinary
Satisfied Customers: 28503
Experience:  University of California at Davis graduate veterinarian with 45 years of experience
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Can a yorkshire terrier puppy have atlantoaxial instability

Customer Question

can a yorkshire terrier puppy have atlantoaxial instability from a struggling birth or by a child swinging him around by the head? Is this something that is genetically inherited?
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: Dog Veterinary
Expert:  Dr. Michael Salkin replied 1 year ago.

All of those etiologies are possible but by the principle of Occam's Razor a Chiari-like malformation - a congenital (present at birth) malformation of the skull that results in intracranial overcrowding and compression of the cervicomedullary junction at the the level of the foramen magnum - should be considered in any Cavalier King Charles spaniel (most common; evidence of heritability but the mode of inheritance hasn't been determined), Yorkshire terrier, miniature/toy poodle, or Brussels griffon. The age of onset is variable but the mean age at diagnosis is 3-6 years. Most dogs respond favorably to oral prednisone therapy. Pregabalin may be effective for pain and scratching and tramadol is useful to relieve pain. In most cases, however, surgical decompression of the foramen magnum is indicated to achieve long-term therapeutic success.

Please respond with further questions or concerns if you wish.

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Dr. Salkin,
thank you for responding.
Can this be diagnosed at 4 months of age?
I was not sure if you were saying yes to it being a hereditary condition. This puppy in question is from my yorkie and I need to know if I should continue to breed her. I thought I might have caused the problem by pulling on the head at birth. Also children are notorious for swinging pups around behind their parents backs. Could this be the problem.?
-Gerrit
Expert:  Dr. Michael Salkin replied 1 year ago.

It's most often congenital (present at birth) but we don't have studies confirming that it's a hereditary condition. It would prudent not to breed such a dog, however. Because this has been shown to affect those breeds I mentioned more than others, it's reasonable to assume that it is hereditary. If she were traumatized as you've conjectured, I would have expected her to be symptomatic long before now. Yes, it can be diagnosed at 4 months of age by MRI.

Please continue our conversation if you wish.

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
no thankyou you have helped me a great deal on what to do.
-Gerrit.
Expert:  Dr. Michael Salkin replied 1 year ago.

You're quite welcome, Gerrit. I can't set a follow-up in this venue and so would appreciate your returning to our conversation with an update - even after rating - at a time of your choosing.

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
$24.00 dollars is wonderful for your advice. Please accept that off the credit card and I would gladly recommend you. I live in a town pretty well from nowhere...with our Vet one hour and 1/2 away. He is a large animal Vet. He and I get on well .. ( we go for lunch when I bring pups in for shots and checkup) but he knows little about tiny Yorkshires.
I can't thank you enough for solid advice. I went to the internet and found nothing about this problem. I have been raising first show yorkies and now just pet yorkies from 1980. Never heard of this problem. thank you.
-Gerrit
Expert:  Dr. Michael Salkin replied 1 year ago.

Thank you for kind words. I'm not privy to your financial obligation to the site. You need only leave a positive rating for my receiving a portion of the deposit you left.

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
you only get a portion? ok I will rate you at the top.
-Gerrit
Expert:  Dr. Michael Salkin replied 1 year ago.
that's how experts keep the site vital. Thank you for your kind accept. I appreciate it.
I can't set a follow up in this venue and so would appreciate your returning to our conversation with an update at your convenience.
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
I will call again as we live in central Saskatchewan and Vets are far. thank you.
Gerrit
Expert:  Dr. Michael Salkin replied 1 year ago.

You can always find me by typing "for Dr. Michael Salkin, only" as the first few words of your new question. By doing so, my colleagues will defer to me. You're quite welcome.

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
hmmm have you thought of going into this yourself to answer questions. ( just a sight) ...but you must tone down all the medi answers to us plain folk. ha-ha God Bless and you do well! Gerrit
Expert:  Dr. Michael Salkin replied 1 year ago.

Yes, I can get too pedantic. I have to remember to define the big words!

Expert:  Dr. Michael Salkin replied 1 year ago.
Hi Gerrit,
I'm just following up on our conversation about B. How is everything going?
Dr. Michael Salkin