Canine Parkinson's Disease

By Amanda Hill

Parkinson's disease is an incurable disorder known to afflict humans, but veterinarians are also finding this disease in dogs. Recent research at the University of Missouri aims to better understand this condition in canines and humans.

What is Parkinson's Disease?

Parkinson's disease is a degenerative neurological condition that affects motor control by impacting the central nervous system.


Because of deteriorating central nervous systems dogs with Parkinson's disease will experience tremors and stiffness and have trouble walking and balance problems. These symptoms also are seen in people with Parkinson's disease.

Human vs. Canine Disease

The main difference between Parkinson's disease in dogs and humans is the age group that is afflicted with the disease. In people, Parkinson's most often occurs in later life. In dogs, it afflicts younger dogs and is considered a hereditary disease.

Causes in Dogs

According to an interview, reported in the student Corner Post of the College of Agriculture, Nutrition and Food Resources at the University of Missouri, Columbia, with Dennis O'Brian, a professor of veterinary medicine at the university, when a mutation occurs in the Parkin protein, the mutated or "blind protein" doesn’t tag bad cells that begin to build up and start to negatively affect the cell’s ability to do its job. This causes Parkinson's degenerative effect on the central nervous system.

Research & Next Steps

Research from the University of Missouri is showing ways to identify the genes that cause Parkinson's disease, according to a report in Science Daily. This will help to stop the proliferation of the disease by selective breeding in dogs.