What is degenerative myelopathy In Dogs?
Degenerative Myelopathy in dogs also called DM is a disease affecting the spinal cord. A genetic mutation in the SOD1 gene has been found to be the cause. Degeneration of the white matter in the spinal cord causes progressive loss of hind leg weakness and paralysis. Eventually the front legs also become weak due to muscle deterioration. There are several stages of degenerative myelopathy.
What breeds are affected?
Any dog could get Degenerative Myelopathy. However, it is common in large breed dogs such as a German Shepherd, German Shepherd Mix, Siberian Husky and Collie.
At what age can a dog develop Degenerative Myelopathy?
Ages 4-14 years old is the most common, but has occasionally been seen in younger dogs.
How is it diagnosed?
A veterinarian will need to do an extensive examination. This will be determined based on the breed, physical diagnosis and various tests. X-rays and other imaging tests can be done to make sure your dog does not have hip dysplasia or chronic arthritis which can cause additional problems.
Histopathology of the spinal cord is needed for a definitive diagnosis. Other tests that may be done include cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) analysis, tissue biopsy and neuromuscular tests.
Will my dog be in pain?
It’s important to be aware that this disease is not painful. See a veterinarian immediately if you believe your dog is in pain. Arthritis is an example of a chronic and painful condition, not degenerative myelopathy which can be misdiagnosed.
Will my dog become incontinent?
In the initial stages of degenerative myelopathy there is usually no issue. In the later stages this can become an issue.
Is there treatment for Degenerative Myelopathy?
Currently there is no treatment for Degenerative Myelopathy. Keeping your dog active for as long as possible, along with a healthy diet are important to help preserve muscle mass. Physical therapy can help prolong your dog’s mobility too. Keeping your dog active for as long as possible when their mobility starts to suffer, can drastically be helped with a dog wheelchair.
About The Author
Performance Dog Wheelchairs wants you to know that physical limitations are not the end to mobility. Our purpose is to give others and their dogs the ability to seek new adventures and overcome physical challenges with one of our Best Friend Mobility Dog Wheelchairs.
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