You may have heard of degenerative myelopathy, also called chronic degenerative radiculomyelopathy, in dogs. It’s a serious disease that may have devastating consequences for both the pet owner and the dog in question. One can compare it to Lou Gehrig’s disease, also called ALS, in humans.
What Is Canine Degenerative Myelopathy?
Degenerative myelopathy in dogs is one of a dog’s worst nightmares and consists of the steady degeneration of the spinal cord. The disease destroys motor neurons which allow dogs to move, pass bowels, and play. This degeneration results in loss of function of the legs over time and creates many problems regarding mobility. DM is a disease that can be managed but it generally gets worse.
The dog will experience loss of mobility and coordination making it difficult to accomplish normal tasks. There are some signs, in the beginning, to look out for as this can be a progressive disease. This might include awkward wobbling or a slouched posture in the hind legs which is a cause for concern!
How Does A Dog Develop Degenerative Myelopathy?
One of the first inclinations regarding explanations of the causes of this debilitating disease is to explain it away with genetics. Dog breeds are one determining factor, as is age, because both can make a particular canine more susceptible. Environmental factors can also play a role in the development of degenerative progression of the disorder.
It’s important to understand that certain genes do affect breeds like dachshunds who are more susceptible to it because of their elongated spines. Corgis may develop DM after reaching eight years of age, as one example, and Burmese Mountain dogs may also show frequent instances of the disease. Middle-aged German Shepherds, Siberian Huskies, and Border Collies have also been shown to be more susceptible.
In addition, a genetic mutation has a correlation with developing the condition. It is called SOD-1. While in humans the mutation is connected to three forms of ALS, in dogs it is related to myelopathy if they carry two.
With that said, a dog can carry the mutation without developing degenerative myelopathy, so sometimes it’s a matter of luck. Genetic testing may help you predict the likelihood and identify dogs that are carriers.
Age is another concern. Studies have shown that dogs that are older than five years old on average are more likely to get the disease. With that said, a pet owner should know when to identify it as different from an orthopedic injury like a torn muscle.
Stairs are considered to be a contributing factor and for this reason, many dog owners opt to install doggy cages. Some have speculated that jumping onto the couches can contribute to the degenerative process so you should discourage this behavior if possible.
Poor diet might also be having an effect. If your dog tends to twist and play a lot while exerting energy then consider giving extra calories to rebuild any torn tissues. These strenuous activities could be avoided altogether for older dogs.
Symptoms Of Chronic Degenerative Myelopathy
The first symptom of canine degenerative myelopathy you should look for is difficulty with simply getting up. Pay attention to any lag time when they prop themselves up from the floor. If they are standing, then you will notice that perhaps the legs are shaking or might give out and go limp randomly.
If your dog is stumbling or wobbling more when they haven’t been on a walk or exercising then this might be one of the more troubling symptoms of degenerative myelopathy to note, but often it’s not painful for the dog. The walks themselves will also suffer from inefficiency in the legs so pay attention to how they are moving overall across longer distances. If they are struggling more than usual on walks then this is also a bad sign.
How Does A Veterinarian Diagnose DM
A veterinarian will first run X-rays and spinal imaging to eliminate the possibility of other diseases, like arthritis. For breeds susceptible to the disease, they may also run genetic testing, but only examining the spinal cord will provide the answer.
Affected dogs need a histopathology in the spinal cord to confirm if they have degenerative myelopathy. The vet will take a tissue sample and examine it in a lab.
Effective Treatments For Enriching The Spinal Cord
As a warning, degenerative myelopathy is incurable. You cannot stop the disease from progressing, only mitigate it and keep your pet comfortable. In both small and large breed dogs, you want to encourage a healthy exercise routine to prevent weight gain. Any weight gain may cause discomfort.
One treatment for degenerative myelopathy that can enrich your dog’s life is our herbal remedy called Pain and Inflammation Pack which contains Yucca, Spirulina. Glucosamine, and CBD. It is perfect for helping with pain relief and increasing recovery potential. We carry such a formula and believe in pairing it with a healthy diet and good exercise.
Exercises For Affected Dogs
There is a treatment for degenerative myelopathy in dogs that will make things easier for your dog during the trial of this degenerative disease. One of the most common approaches includes logical exercises to help strengthen the spinal cord. Therapy exercises are especially useful for increasing mobility and overall motion.
A pet owner may also want to invest in casts or orthopedic braces for their dog, to reduce any pain or discomfort. Some brands design their braces specifically to help a dog continue exercising when working against degeneration. They correct the hind legs’ position.
Another approach is to give them some natural supplements that aid in the reduction of inflammation and encourage the revitalization of your dog with various vitamins and minerals. There are also some more innovative approaches that include methods like Superoxide dismutase, Sanus biotex, and aminocaproic acid supplements that can help to stimulate the nerves and reestablish healthy connections for greater longevity of health.
Identify And Mitigate Major Risk Factors With Prana Pets
Prana Pets wants to ensure that you have the resources to supplement what a veterinarian recommends for treatment. We believe that natural formulas can ease your dog’s comfort. Pet owners ought to take a look at our supplements and formulas.
To find out more about how you can use our supplements to treat clinical signs, please reach out to us today. Prana Pets will know which supplements pair with physical therapy, and a pet owner’s responsible regimen.