Dysautonomia in Dogs

Dysautonomia is a medical condition that involves the autonomic nervous system's inability to work properly. The autonomic nervous system is situated within the nervous system, and mostly operates free of deliberate command. This congenital ailment is also frequently known by the name "Key-Gaskell syndrome." Dysautonomia not only affects humans, but also dogs and cats. The root trigger for dysautonomia is uncertain.


Autonomic Immune System

The autonomic immune system manages many diverse things, including drooling, urination, metabolism, blood pressure, heart rate, sweating, breathing, and even the muscles behind digestion. Dogs partake in these processes, for the most part, unwittingly. With the deterioration of this area within the nervous system, dogs usually experience a lot of seriously negative effects, including gastrointestinal distress.


One of the most prominent indications of dysautonomia involves a canine's digestion. If a pooch has dysautonomia, it might become apparent that the muscles in that specific area of his body are just not operating in the right manner. Some things to look out for include throwing up, loss of ability to hold in bowel movements, stomachache and diarrhea. The signs are not limited to the digestive tract, however. Other common clues to the disorder are problems urinating, feebleness, unusual exhaustion, reduced appetite, coughing, weight loss, depression, sluggish heart rate, and eye, mouth and nasal dryness. If you notice any of these indications in your pet, take him to the veterinarian immediately.

Veterinary Management

Veterinarians run a variety of tests in order to determine whether a dog indeed has dysautonomia. These generally include everything from blood work to X-rays. Management for dysautonomia typically focuses on easing the discomfort of some of its primary symptoms. For some dogs, veterinarians might suggest medicines that enhance the intestines' motion capacity, for example. For others, veterinarians might suggest raising the moisture levels of the living environment—a way to handle the mucous membranes' getting overly dry. Only a veterinarian can tell you what is appropriate and safe for your specific pooch. Note that the condition is frequently life-threatening in canines, which is why prompt veterinary management is so imperative.

Geography and Susceptibility

The concept of the disease in dogs first entered the public consciousness after a report of it popped up in the United Kingdom in 1983. Since then, dogs in the United States, Greece, Norway, Germany and Belgium have experienced dysautonomia. The disorder is particularly prevalent in the Midwestern portion of the United States, namely Missouri and Kansas. In the United States, pooches who live in countryside settings are particularly prone to dysautonomia, especially if they're outside for over half of their lives. Youthful dogs also are particularly vulnerable to dysautonomia—think those 3 years in age or under.

By Naomi Millburn

About the Author
Naomi Millburn has been a freelance writer since 2011. Her areas of writing expertise include arts and crafts, literature, linguistics, traveling, fashion and European and East Asian cultures. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in American literature from Aoyama Gakuin University in Tokyo.