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Acral Mutilation Syndrome(AMS) is a hereditary disease. It is a rare autosomal-recessive genetic disorder that affects sensation in the extremities of dogs. This means that affected dogs must have two copies of the mutation to show clinical signs.

This results in progressive mutilation of their pads and paws due to the absence of pain. Dogs with acral mutilation syndrome will chew, bite, lick and self-mutilate their distal extremities which may result in ulcers and fungal or bacterial infections. In severe cases, auto-amputation of digits, pads and claws can occur.

Canines will continue to walk on mutilated feet without showing pain or lameness. Motor skills, coordination, and reflexes will all appear normal. This condition has been reported only in German short-haired pointers, English pointers, English springer spaniels and French spaniels.

A dog carrier of the mutation will not develop the disease but transmits it to 50% of the puppies.

Breeders unaware of Acral Mutilation Syndrome can mate stud dogs and brood bitches carriers of the mutation and produce puppies affected puppies.

Clinical signs and Symptoms

Signs typically are first seen in puppies. Clinical signs include severe licking of footpads and paws to the point of bleeding and ulceration. Auto-amputation of the claws, footpads, and digits through self-mutilation can also occur. Lesions (wounds) on limbs and inability to feel pain on distal limbs are also clinical signs. Age of onset ranges from 3 to 12 months.

Diagnosing Acral Mutilation Syndrome in Dogs

The diagnosis can usually be made based on distinctive clinical signs in a young dog of a typical breed. More than one pup in a litter may be affected. Electromyography will give a definitive diagnosis by revealing an absence of normal nerve potentials in your dog.
Diagnosis can also be made at necropsy, based on the characteristic changes in the nervous system.

Treatment of Acral Mutilation Syndrome in Dogs

There is no treatment for this disorder. Vets may provide other treatment options to try and limit further self-mutilation through the use of bandages, Elizabethan collar and sometimes sedation. It is also essential to provide a stress-free living environment for affected dogs, keeping water and food bowls within easy reach, avoiding exercise and physical activity, noise or any kind of commotion.


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