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Dysautonomia in dogs: 65 cases (1993–2000)

Kenneth R. HarkinDepartment of Clinical Sciences, College of Veterinary Medicine, Kansas State University, Manhattan, KS 66506-5701.

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 DVM, DACVIM
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Gordon A. AndrewsDepartment of Diagnostic Medicine/Pathobiology, College of Veterinary Medicine, Kansas State University, Manhattan, KS 66506-5701.

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Jerome C. NietfeldDepartment of Diagnostic Medicine/Pathobiology, College of Veterinary Medicine, Kansas State University, Manhattan, KS 66506-5701.

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 DVM, PhD, DACVP

Abstract

Objective—To determine signalment, history, clinical findings, results of autonomic function testing and other antemortem diagnostic tests, and pathologic findings in dogs with dysautonomia.

Design—Retrospective study.

Animals—65 dogs with dysautonomia.

Procedure—Case records of 68 dogs with a diagnosis of dysautonomia were reviewed; inclusion criteria included histologic confirmation of dysautonomia or clinical signs and results of pharmacologic testing consistent with dysautonomia.

Results—65 dogs fulfilled all criteria for dysautonomia. Dogs from rural environments were overrepresented, and cases of dysautonomia were reported for every month, although the highest number of cases was reported in February and March. Vomiting was the most common clinical sign, followed by diarrhea, signs of anorexia and depression, weight loss, and dysuria. The most common physical examination finding was decreased or absent anal tone, followed by absent pupillary light reflexes and elevated nictitating membrane. Results of pharmacologic te sting were consistent with dysautonomia, although no single test was 100% sensitive. Histologic lesions consistent with dysautonomia were found in the autonomic ganglia, brainstem nuclei, and ventral horns of the spinal cord.

Conclusions and Clinical Relevance—Dysautonomia is an endemic disease in Kansas, and a high index of suspicion of the disease can be made by combining clinical signs, physical examination findings, and results of pharmacologic testing. (J Am Vet Med Assoc 2002;220:633–639)

Abstract

Objective—To determine signalment, history, clinical findings, results of autonomic function testing and other antemortem diagnostic tests, and pathologic findings in dogs with dysautonomia.

Design—Retrospective study.

Animals—65 dogs with dysautonomia.

Procedure—Case records of 68 dogs with a diagnosis of dysautonomia were reviewed; inclusion criteria included histologic confirmation of dysautonomia or clinical signs and results of pharmacologic testing consistent with dysautonomia.

Results—65 dogs fulfilled all criteria for dysautonomia. Dogs from rural environments were overrepresented, and cases of dysautonomia were reported for every month, although the highest number of cases was reported in February and March. Vomiting was the most common clinical sign, followed by diarrhea, signs of anorexia and depression, weight loss, and dysuria. The most common physical examination finding was decreased or absent anal tone, followed by absent pupillary light reflexes and elevated nictitating membrane. Results of pharmacologic te sting were consistent with dysautonomia, although no single test was 100% sensitive. Histologic lesions consistent with dysautonomia were found in the autonomic ganglia, brainstem nuclei, and ventral horns of the spinal cord.

Conclusions and Clinical Relevance—Dysautonomia is an endemic disease in Kansas, and a high index of suspicion of the disease can be made by combining clinical signs, physical examination findings, and results of pharmacologic testing. (J Am Vet Med Assoc 2002;220:633–639)