What is Cerebellar Hypoplasia?

What's wrong with Boogie? We get asked that question a lot, and of course we do, Boogie is pretty unique! While we could take offense to the WAY these questions are often asked, we know that most questions present a teachable moment. And one teachable moment could save the life of a homeless pet. So we're taking one of those moments right now.

If you are new to our social channels or just searching for answers about a wobbly dog, here's what we've learned about Boogie's disability since adopting him in 2015. We hope this sheds a little light on Cerebellar Hypoplasia and pets with disabilities!


What is Boogie's condition?
Boogie has Cerebellar Hypoplasia (CH), and is generally rated as mild-moderate-severe. Boogie falls into the moderate category.

What is it?
Cerebellar hypoplasia, a neurological condition in which parts of the cerebellum (the largest part of the brain) have not completely developed. There are many causes that can lead to this condition including genetics, infection, malnutrition, poisoning or injury in utero. 

Symptoms/Challenges:
Symptoms of cerebellar hypoplasia can be from mild to severe and include: head bobbing, high steps, wobbly gait, tremors, clumsiness, wide stance, knuckling over on paws, falling and flipping over. Symptoms typically become visible in puppies when they begin to stand and walk, around six weeks of age. In kittens, CH presents much sooner. Symptoms range from mild, moderate to severe. 

Treatment / Modifications:
There is no cure for CH, but every animal is different and benefits for different therapies and modifications. Boogie's CH is moderate, but due to his extremely small size, he faces other challenges that could cause injury, so we do have a few rules for him around our house: 

  1. No tile floors. When he was a puppy, he could navigate it a little, but when his legs grew into the akward, tiny giraffe legs they are now, he stopped going for it. He is great on carpet and other softer surfaces and has plenty of that to roam around on.
  2. Low bowls for food. You would think a raised bowl would work better for him, but with all the "rocking" he does, he bumps his snout on the rim and that hurts. So, a flat dish works best for Boogie. Or being hand fed, because who doesn't love that?!
  3. Potty time / bath time is 100% hand on. Boogie can’t walk out of our house alone because of surfaces and steps, so we carry him out in a little “go bag” for every potty. He will use potty pads, although his aim isn’t 100% (LOL), but we prefer to give him the pack experience with with everyone outside. He can’t stand up in the bath either and he’s so tiny we don’t even let him sit in there without holding him.
  4. No jumping. At 2.2 pounds, he’s not able to jump onto the furniture, but he does try to jump down, which is a big NO.
  5. Going for walks. We tried to train him on the leash (a baby ferret harness was the only thing that fit him) but it wasn’t in the cards. He rides in a stroller or in a go bag when we go on walks with the pack because it is safer, especially from traffic and other animals.

6. Wheelchair/Cart. We are in search for a dog wheelchair/cart that fits Boogie's stature and body physics! He can walk on his own, but since his second hip surgery, we find that he needs a little extra support & confidence when outside playing. A cart would help strengthen his back legs and allow him to run and play a bit longer than he chooses to do on his own. So far, the carts we’ve tried and/or inquired about are all too heavy and not complementary to Boogie’s body size.  We hope to find an engineer/3-D printing solution soon!


A few questions we are regularly asked:

Is CH painful? According to our vets, no. If he falls down on a hard surface, yes, that hurts, and it could cause serious injury. But just existing with CH is not painful.

Does Boogie have seizures? No. The shakiness is called internal tremors. It stops when he’s sleeping. 

Will CBD oil make him stop wobbling?  We have asked our vets and many other CH pet parents about using CBD oil, and continue to get the same answer, no. CBD oil does not make the cerebellum grow to the full size and function. So, it doesn't 'cure' the internal tremors caused by CH. We know other CH pets who are on CBD oil for other issues, such as seizures or arthritis, and although it works great to subdue seizures and other pain, these pets are still wobbly because of their CH. 

Are we making fun of him? Absolutely not. Every time Boogie wobbles across the room, makes a leap into his bed, or does anything, we celebrate like it’s the first time he’s done it. We are amazed by the way he navigates his BIG world, and love sharing his daily achievements and personality quirks! Our followers tell us all the time that Boogie brightens their day, and we've even inspired some people to seek out CH or other special needs pets to adopt! 

Other pets with Cerebellar Hypoplasia
Every cat or dog with CH is different. If you would like to see how other dogs and cats thrive Cerebellar Hypoplasia, here are just a few that we follow on Instagram.  You can also search #cerebellarhypoplasia on Instagram to find more wobbly pets!

Wobbly Jericho (IG: @wobbly_jericho)

Nodder the Wonder Husky (IG: @nodderthewonderhusky)

Arnie the Wobbly Pup (IG: @arniethewobblyput)

Kitty Cat Chronicles (IG: @kittycatchronicles)

Wobbly Cats (IG: wobblycats)

Still have questions? Ask away in the comments, send us a message on Facebook or Instagram at: @littleboogieshoes or send us an email! We will do our best to answer you promptly!

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**DISCLAIMER: Boogie and his humans are not doctors. The information we've shared here is what we have learned through our doctors, our own research and other CH pet families. If you suspect your pet may have CH or is presenting symptoms of anything out of the ordinary, please take them to your veterinarian immediately. 


40 comments

  • I’m so glad I came upon your website and cute little Boogie! One week ago we adopted a three month old chihuahua with mild CH that had been abandoned. (we named her Jiggy) I knew nothing about dog neurological disorders but saw her pic and fell in love. The first few days my heart hurt for her but as we get to know her she is pure joy and has no idea she has any challenges. My family loves her so much her life will never be unhappy. We are so lucky to watch her navigate and bobble and exude puppiness. Thank you for the great advice on daily life with a CH doggie.

    Jeannie
  • Do you know of organizations in the Phoenix, AZ area that might need help with animals with special needs? We have 2 rescue Chihuahuas. I work in the college sector full time now; however as a retired k-12 special education teacher, I would love to be able to welcome a 4-legged family member with special needs into our family.

    Gina Smith
  • Thank you so much for telling us about him. What you are doing is so giving and full of love. Yes I am one of the people who said he makes my day. He always makes me smile. I’m glad to know he is not in pain. Dose he loved to be hugged? If so please hug him for me. Sherie Lemire

    sherie lemire
  • I think what you’re doing to help is remarkable. I never liked chihuahuas before. I’d always had big dogs, and I didn’t like the “stigma” attached to the breed. Always viewed them in a negative way, referring to them as annoying tappers and ankle biters. A few years back my daughter brought home a Deerhead chihuahua as a rescue. He’d been surrendered by a family that had huge dogs and umpteen cats. He seemed never to have been loved or petted. It took him a long time(a good 6 months) before he would come out from under the bed. With patience and love he finally became part of the family. He had many problems with his behavior. Chico has no disabilities like Boo Shoo, but he has overcome so many fears, and, he’s not yappy, nor does he bite or snap. You’re work with this little boy is amazing and I admire you for. Thank you for educating us on his disability.😘

    Valerie Lee
  • I just wanted to say I’m really proud of you and Boogie. He does bring light into my life he looks like my Lilly. I would do anything in the world for my 2 Chihuahuas. I love Boogie so much❤❤❤ thanks for sharing Boogie with us

    Steven Dornan

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