What is Degenerative Myelopathy?
Degenerative Myelopathy is condition of the spinal cord where there is loss of myelin and axons leading to a slow degenerative, progressive weakness in the rear legs.
How does my dog get Degenerative Myelopathy?
In German Shepherds, Siberian Husky, and German Shepherd mixes, it is thought to be a hereditary condition. There is a breed disposition in other breeds listed below although the cause is still unknown.
How do I know if my dog has Degenerative Myelopathy?
This is a slow developing insidious disease that is rarely detected until symptoms have been going on for months. Weakness and ataxia in the rear legs along with other signs that mimic arthritis. Dragging the toes and knuckling of the rear leg toes are commonly seen. An awkward swaying walk where the rear legs cross when walking is frequently noted. Confirmation of degenerative myelopathy requires a veterinary examination. Blood tests, radiographs, and special diagnostic procedures may be required to differentiate degenerative myelopathy from a number of conditions that present similarly.
What can I do about Degenerative Myelopathy?
This a non-treatable condition. Exercise is suggested to maintain muscle tone however there have been no successful treatment protocols identified. Eventually dogs will become incapable of walking and care becomes challenging.
Is there anything I can do to prevent my dog from getting Degenerative Myelopathy?
Outside of careful breed selection, there is nothing that can be done to prevent degenerative myelopathy.
Are there certain breeds that get Degenerative Myelopathy more often?
German Shepherds, Collie, Siberian Husky, Labrador retriever, Chesapeake Bay Retriever, Kerry Blue Terrier, Boxer, and others.