Hepatocerebellar degeneration is a little-known condition that is only found in Bernese Mountain Dogs. This disease is an inherited disorder that affects both the liver (which detoxifies the blood) and the cerebellum (the part of the brain that controls balance). Both of the puppy’s parents have to be carriers of the trait to pass it down to their puppies.
In most cases, this condition comes on very suddenly when puppies are between four and six weeks old. Symptoms include:
Tilting of the head
Bobbing of the head
Hind limb stiffness
After a few days, affected puppies have difficulty standing and fall over because their ability to balance is compromised. They also may have bloated abdomens and become lethargic.
Unfortunately, there is no treatment for this condition and puppies with hepatocerebellar degenerationon do not live past six months of age.
Heather Kalinowski lives in the Seattle area with her husband, newborn son, and two rescued pups – an Italian Greyhound named Ava and a Spaniel mix named Jackson. She enjoys reading, writing, spending time with her family, and volunteering with Italian Greyhound Rescue.