Can Dogs Get Parkinsons Disease + What Are The Signs
Parkinsons is an unfortunate part of many peoples lives. On average, 60,000 Americans are diagnosed with Parkinsons disease every year. As people get older, they become more susceptible to neurological disease. But did you know that dogs can also suffer with neurological disorders?
Can dogs get Parkinsons disease? Just like humans, dogs can get Parkinsons disease. Whilst canine Parkinsons is similar to the human disease in many ways, there are difference in the ways in which Parkinsons disease affects dogs.
Tips On Managing Emotions
You may feel scared about what the future will bring for you and your family. If your parent, grandparent or family member is moody or down, you may be afraid of upsetting them.
Talking about your fears and taking time out to have fun and forget about your worries can help. Dont be afraid to ask the person with Parkinsons about the condition or how they feel they may be pleased to have the chance to talk about it.
Its natural to feel angry. Accept that its OK to feel angry, notice how it makes your body feel but then find a way to move on from it. Take some deep breaths, and choose a practical way to distract yourself from the angry feelings.
Physical activity is especially good as a distraction from anger because when you exercise your body releases chemicals that make you feel good. It is especially good as an outlet for anger, because it gets rid of the tension in your muscles.
Once you feel calmer you could try writing down any negative thoughts you still have then screwing up the paper and throwing it away. You could finish by writing down a few positive thoughts and keeping them on your desk or in your bag.
Learning about Parkinsons and what help is available can reduce your worries and fears. If you have questions, then ask your parent or another trusted adult.
You could ask to go with your family member with Parkinsons when they see their doctor or consultant. You could make a list of the questions you would like to ask these professionals.
What It Feels Like: Young
Many young people that will hide their Parkinson’s symptoms because they’re ashamed to talk about it.
When Caitlin Nagy was just 31 she started to notice small tremors in her hand. Concerned, she turned to a neurologist, who gave her deeply troubling and somewhat confusing news: it was a Parkinsonism, a condition similar to Parkinsons disease, although the doctor couldnt be sure if it was truly Parkinsons, since her genetic tests were inconclusive.
Parkinsons and Parkinson-related diseases, also known as Parkinsonisms, are progressive neurological diseases linked to a loss of dopamine production in the brain, according to the Canadian Guidelines for Parkinsons Disease. Symptoms generally start out as a tremor which spreads to other limbs. Over time, a patients movements may begin to slow down and muscle stiffness may also occur. Impaired posture and balance are common.
In Canada, Parkinsons and related diseases affect one in 500 people, with the average age of onset being 65 years old. Only 10 per cent of patients with Parkinsons develop young-onset Parkinsons, where symptoms begin before the age of 50.
Nagy spent seven years trying to find an alternate explanation before coming to terms with her diagnosis. Now thriving as a mom and managing a creative agency, she wants other patients of young-onset Parkinsons and Parkinsonian-like conditions to know that they are not alone.
**Warning: This story includes comment related to suicide ideation.
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Other Typical Symptoms Of Parkinson’s
Tremor is an uncontrollable movement that affects a part of the body. A Parkinsons tremor typically starts in the hand before spreading to affect the rest of the arm, or down to the foot on the same side of the body.
There is no cure for a tremor, but there are ways to manage the symptom with support from a specialist or Parkinsons nurse.
Slowness of movement also known as bradykinesia may mean that it takes someone with Parkinson’s longer to do things. For example, they might struggle with coordination, walking may become more like a shuffle or walking speed may slow down.
Everyday tasks, such as paying for items at a check-out or walking to a bus stop, might take longer to do.
Parkinsons causes stiff muscles, inflexibility and cramps. This can make certain tasks such as writing, doing up buttons or tying shoe laces, hard to do. Rigidity can stop muscles from stretching and relaxing. It can be particularly noticeable, for example, if you struggle to turn over or get in and out of bed.
Symptoms and the rate at which they develop will vary from person to person. The most important thing to do if youre worried you have Parkinsons is to speak to your GP.
How Can You Participate
Register and attend our monthly live YOPD Council sessions. They will be held on the third Thursday of every month starting July 18, 2020.
We have the following topics scheduled through the end of the year:
- Sex, Love, Dating & Parkinsons
- Work, Money, Meaning & Parkinsons
- Disability, Insurance & Parkinsons
- Exercise, Community & Parkinsons
- Mental Health, Death and Dying & Parkinsons
- Medications, Side Effects & Parkinsons
Submit questions for the live session or other YOPD topic ideas to Melani at
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Symptoms Of Parkinson’s Disease
You can attribute the symptoms of Parkinson’s to a deficiency of a chemical in your brain called dopamine. The four classic motor symptoms of Parkinson’s include:
Shaking and tremors while you are resting is typically the first sign of Parkinson’s disease, but about one-third of patients won’t experience those symptoms. These symptoms tend to be worsened by emotional and physical stress. Sleep or moving can help reduce these issues.
Parkinson’s disease is both chronic and progressive with symptoms generally getting worse as time goes on. As it progresses, other disabilities can develop, including:
- Difficulty talking and swallowing
- A sudden inability to move,
Some sufferers also have symptoms that don’t affect their motor skills, including:
- Mental health issues such as anxiety, depression and memory loss
- Loss of smell
- Trouble sleeping, including thrashing and other sudden movements
- Change in blood pressure
Parkinsons Disease In Dogs
Canine Parkinsons disease manifests in many similar symptoms to humans, such as tremors and a loss of balance. However, there are some key differences too.
In this guide, Ill break down the differences between Parkinsons disease in humans and dogs and the signs you should look out for. There are also some tips on how to care for your dog if they have unfortunately been diagnosed with Parkinsons disease and neurological disorders.
Before we get into it, its important I stress that I am not a veterinarian. I am just a dog owner and lover. Please consult your professional veterinarian to verify any and all information in this article.
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Young Onset Parkinson’s: A Conversation Of Our Unique Needs
In this one-hour video, a panel of people with Young Onset Parkinson’s Disease discuss the challenges faced by those with YOPD. The panel features Larry Gifford, famous for his podcast “When Life Gives You Parkinson’s,” Dr. Soania Mathur, a member of Parkinson Canada’s Medical Advosory Council, Tim Hague, who won the first Amazing Race in Canada after being diagnosed, and Omotola Thomas, founder of ParkinStand.
Find A Movement Disorder Specialist
- A movement disorder specialist is a neurologist who has pursued specialized training in movement disorders. Outcomes are much better in people who see a movement disorder specialist because their doctors can customize treatment and fine-tune multiple medications.
- Click here to find a movement disorder specialist in your area.
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Genetics In Yopd And Its Implications For Management
The genetic background of PD is gradually being revealed and consists of the spectrum from common variants that have small contributions to an increased vulnerability, to true monogenic forms . Some of the genes that previously received a PARK locus symbol are in fact unconfirmed, are risk alleles, or if mutated give rise to a more complex phenotype. A new nomenclature of genetic movement disorders, including PD, was recently proposed and has tried to deal with these complexities . Here, we focus on the confirmed genes that can be considered monogenic forms of PD. These mainly include the dominant genes SNCA, LRRK2, GBA, and VPS35, and the recessive genes Parkin, PINK1, DJ1. The common picture from the literature is that PD patients with a mutation in one of these genes present at an earlier age, particularly for the recessive genes and SNCA . So, vice versa, if a PD patient presents at a young age, the option of a genetic etiology is often considered. While next generation sequencing platforms have simplified screening the relevant genes, we have to critically address the question: what is the actual benefit of genetic testing in YOPD?
How Is Parkinson Disease Treated
Parkinson disease can’t be cured. But there are different therapies that can help control symptoms. Many of the medicines used to treat Parkinson disease help to offset the loss of the chemical dopamine in the brain. Most of these medicines help manage symptoms quite successfully.
A procedure called deep brain stimulation may also be used to treat Parkinson disease. It sends electrical impulses into the brain to help control tremors and twitching movements. Some people may need surgery to manage Parkinson disease symptoms. Surgery may involve destroying small areas of brain tissue responsible for the symptoms. However, these surgeries are rarely done since deep brain stimulation is now available.
What Causes Parkinson Disease
Parkinson disease arises from decreased dopamine production in the brain. The absence of dopamine makes it hard for the brain to coordinate muscle movements. Low dopamine also contributes to mood and cognitive problems later in the course of the disease. Experts don’t know what triggers the development of Parkinson disease most of the time. Early onset Parkinson disease is often inherited and is the result of certain gene defects.
Other Diseases That Have Similar Symptoms To Parkinsons Disease
Now, I just want to address something you may have noticed here. Many of these symptoms and signs could also apply to other diseases. Is it an overreaction to assume that if your dog twitches a bit it is definitely Parkinsons disease?
Well yes and no. Certainly, all of these symptoms could indicate other ailments.
Lets go through a few now:
- Generalized tremor syndrome: Yep, its a thing! Your dog may tremor for no real reason. This doesnt have the same stiffness and limited joint mobility that Parkinsons does.
- Kidney disease: Kidney disease can cause depression, anxiety, and tremoring. Youll most likely see vomiting and infrequent urination come with this and can lead to euthanasia.
- Arthritis: A friend of mine has an arthritic dog and stiffness is a real problem. Having inflexible joints can also cause your dog to limp. Arthritis is differentiated by joint pain so your dog may be more vocal if this is what they are suffering.
- Seizure disorders: Did you know that dogs can suffer from epilepsy? Seizures can be caused by all kinds of things. They can also be the entire ailment all by themselves.
As you can see, the signs of Parkinsons in dogs could belong to an entirely different diagnosis. So, if you notice stiffness or tremoring, it is best to have your professional veterinarian make a formal diagnosis.
The Plus Side Of An Early Diagnosis
The news is not nearly all bad for those with young-onset Parkinsons. For one thing, patients with YOPD are better candidates for surgical procedures and medical innovations being used or developed to treat Parkinsons disease. For another, younger patients are less likely to be coping with other health problems at the same time.
Targeting Parkinsons-Linked Protein Could Neutralize 2 of the Diseases Causes
Researchers report they have discovered how two problem proteins known to cause Parkinsons disease are chemically linked, suggesting that someday, both could be neutralized by a single drug designed to target the link.
Why Is Expert Care Important
Early expert care can help reduce PD complications. Findings show that 60 percent of people with Parkinson’s fall short of getting the expert care they need. The National Parkinson Foundation has estimated that about 6,400 people with Parkinson’s die unnecessarily each year due to poor care.
Trained neurologists will help you recognize, treat and manage the disease. Common approaches include medication, surgical treatment, lifestyle modifications , physical therapy, support groups, occupational therapy and speech therapy. The best approach is interdisciplinary care, where you are seen by multiple specialists on a regular basis and all of the specialists talk and arrange the best possible coordinated care. This is what is referred to as a patient-centric approach to Parkinson’s care.
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Who Gets Parkinson’s Disease
Approximately one million Americans have Parkinson’s disease, including three out of every 100 people over the age of 60. Over 50,000 Americans are diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease each year. There is increasing evidence that Parkinson’s disease may be inherited . Men are slightly more likely to develop the disease than women.
The average age at which it is diagnosed is 60. However, about 4% of those with Parkinson’s disease are diagnosed before age 50, and about half of those are diagnosed before age 40. When the diagnosis is made early, it is referred to as “young-onset” Parkinson’s disease.
Parkinsons Disease Is A Progressive Disorder
Parkinsons Disease is a slowly progressive neurodegenerative disorder that primarily affects movement and, in some cases, cognition. Individuals with PD may have a slightly shorter life span compared to healthy individuals of the same age group. According to the Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinsons Research, patients usually begin developing Parkinsons symptoms around age 60. Many people with PD live between 10 and 20 years after being diagnosed. However, a patients age and general health status factor into the accuracy of this estimate.
While there is no cure for Parkinsons disease, many patients are only mildly affected and need no treatment for several years after their initial diagnosis. However, PD is both chronic, meaning it persists over a long period of time, and progressive, meaning its symptoms grow worse over time. This progression occurs more quickly in some people than in others.
Pharmaceutical and surgical interventions can help manage some of the symptoms, like bradykinesia , rigidity or tremor , but not much can be done to slow the overall progression of the disease. Over time, shaking, which affects most PD patients, may begin to interfere with daily activities and ones quality of life.
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Parkinsons Books For Kids
The following books were written to facilitate discussion with children about Parkinsons disease. The books offer age-appropriate information about PD and perspectives to help children and teens better understand important issues in the PD world. This is not a comprehensive list of available titles, but its a great place to start. All of the books below are available on Amazon.com and other online retailers.
- Ill Hold Your Hand, So You Wont Fall: A Childs Guide to Parkinsons Disease by Rasheda Ali, with a foreward by Muhammad Ali
- Carina and Her Care Partner Gramma by Kirk Hall
- Carson and His Shaky Paws Grampa by Kirk Hall
- My GrandPas Shaky Hands by Dr. Soania Mathur
- Parkinsons in the Park: For Children of Parents with Parkinsons by Jessica Christie
- Shaky Hands: A Kids Guide to Parkinsons Disease by Dr. Soania Mathur
- The Tale of a Parkie Princess: A Chronic Illness Described in a Fairy Tale by Annie Konopka
Connect With Other Patients And Share Tips On How To Manage Parkinsons Disease In Our Forums
Up to 44 percent of those with PD have experienced internal tremors. This also is what young-onset Parkinsons disease can look like. In my early 20s, the tremors continued, and I started having gut troubles. I didnt think much of it, but looking back on my medical history, my doctor felt confident that PD was playing a quiet role way back when.
Fiona MacDonald, of ScienceAlert, says, Researchers have noticed that people with Parkinsons often report digestive problems up to 10 years before they notice tremors. Theres also evidence that people with Parkinsons disease have different gut bacteria to other healthy adults. This also is what PD can look like but you cant see it.
I began reading through my journals and began to see my symptoms actually did begin in high school. But they were subtle. They were unpronounced, minimal, silent, unassuming. There was some rigidity. Internal tremors. Gut problems. Not much, but enough to put a connection to. This is what young-onset Parkinsons disease can feel like.
When I was 32, I was misdiagnosed with lupus and medicated with pills that didnt make a difference. This is not uncommon.
I dont have time to wallow in a sea of sorrow over a disease I have, but would rather not have. Since I do have it, I recognize there are times when its OK to be treated differently and to need help. Its really OK, because
thats what PD can look like.
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Early Onset/young Onset Parkinson’s
Parkinsons can occur at any age. Early onset Parkinson’s, also known as young onset Parkinsons , is defined as occurring in someone below the age of 40. Research suggests that genetics may play more of a role in early or young onset than in people who are diagnosed over the age of 40.
In early or young onset Parkinson’s, the symptoms you experience and how you respond to medication may differ slightly from older onset, although for some people these can be very similar.
Motor symptoms generally respond well to medication in both young and older onset Parkinsons. In early or young onset, motor fluctuations such as dyskinesia and wearing off tend to occur earlier but they generally progress more slowly. This is thought to be due to the most commonly prescribed medication, levodopa, and for this reason, young onset is usually treated initially with alternatives to levodopa such as MAO-B inhibitors or dopamine agonists. Levodopa is generally only added in when other medications do not provide adequate symptom control.
Dystonia is also a more common early motor symptom in early or young onset, whereas some of the non-motor symptoms that occur in older onset Parkinsons, such as memory problems, are less common.
Deep brain stimulation has also been shown to be effective at an earlier stage of Parkinsons if medication no longer controls motor symptoms so well, and you may want to discuss this option with your care team. See Deep brain stimulation.