Degenerative Myelopathy In Dogs; Common Questions Answered

degenerative myelopathy in dogs

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?

degenerative myelopathy in dogs

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.

A dog wheelchair is also referred to as a handicap dog cart or dog harness with wheels. A dog wheelchair for hip dysplasia is one of the common needs. We offer three different models and have small dog wheelchairs and large dog wheelchairs.

We offer a full support dog wheelchair which is also referred to as a dog quad wheelchair or four wheel dog wheelchair, a dog wheelchair for back legs and the patented SitGo Dog Wheelchair. This is the only one that allows your dog to go from standing to sitting without having to remove it. This is the best dog wheelchair on the market! 

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