Degenerative Myelopathy in Dogs

Degenerative myelopathy (DM) is a chronic disease caused by the degeneration of nerve cells in the spinal cord. The nerve damage may be caused by an immune-mediated process that occurs when the body’s immune system attacks myelin, the fatty substance that surrounds and protects nerve fibers in the spinal cord.

Degenerative myelopathy, or DM, is a chronic disease caused by the degeneration of nerve cells in the spinal cord.

DM is a degenerative disease of the spinal cord. It is not a virus or bacterial infection; instead, it occurs when nerve cells in the spinal cord gradually lose their function over time. While some dogs may have symptoms beginning as early as three years old, most begin showing signs around seven to eight years old.

The disease can affect any breed and size of dog, but it rarely occurs in cats or non-domestic animals.

DM is often confused with intervertebral disc disease (IVDD), which is a separate condition that can also cause back pain and paralysis in dogs.

In dogs, DM is often confused with intervertebral disc disease (IVDD), which is a separate condition that can also cause back pain and paralysis in dogs.

IVDD is caused by a ruptured disc that presses on the spinal cord and/or nerve roots. It’s more commonly seen in young dogs than older ones; in fact, it’s the most common cause of a problem called “congenital cervical stenosis,” or narrowing at the neck of the spine.

DM most commonly affects older German shepherds and corgis but it can also occur in other breeds including Siberian huskies, boxers, Boston terriers and Chesapeake Bay retrievers.

Degenerative myelopathy is a degenerative disease that affects older dogs. It most commonly affects German shepherds and corgis, but it can also occur in other breeds including Siberian huskies, boxers, Boston terriers and Chesapeake Bay retrievers. If you have a dog that is showing signs of DM (such as difficulty walking or loss of control over urination), please contact your veterinarian immediately.

There are no vaccines available for DM; however there are some things that you can do to keep your dog healthy:

  • Feed him high-quality food with plenty of fresh vegetables and fruits
  • Keep him active by taking him on walks every day or letting him play in the backyard with his favorite toys

Dogs with DM become weak and wobbly in their hind legs over time, progressing to paralysis and eventually losing the use of their front legs as well as their back legs.

Degenerative myelopathy is a progressive disease that affects the spinal cord. Dogs with DM become weak and wobbly in their hind legs over time, progressing to paralysis and eventually losing the use of their front legs as well as their back legs. The first symptoms of DM typically appear between 9 and 12 years old but can start as early as 5 years old or remain dormant until later in life.

The disease typically starts at the lowest part of your dog’s spinal cord, which controls functions like standing up, walking and urinating if it involves too much effort for a dog who has degenerative myelopathy to do these things.

DM causes progressive muscle weakness and loss of hind leg coordination leading to rear limb paralysis.

Degenerative myelopathy (DM) is a degenerative disease that affects the spinal cord and causes progressive muscle weakness and loss of hind leg coordination leading to rear limb paralysis. The disease progresses slowly over months to years, but can take as long as 18-20 months before your dog shows symptoms.

It’s important not to confuse Degenerative Myelopathy with Canine Motor Neuron Disease, which has similar symptoms but affects different parts of the body.

Front legs usually begin to be affected once the dog is unable to use its hind legs anymore. Front legs usually begin to be affected once the dog is unable to stand or walk at all. Front legs usually begin to be affected once the dog is unable to walk.

As the disease progresses, your dog will lose the ability to walk and stand. Eventually he or she won’t be able to use his back legs at all. The front legs may still work for a while, but eventually they too will become paralyzed.

A degenerative myelopathy diagnosis is heartbreaking for many pet parents because it means that there’s no cure and no way of slowing down or reversing this debilitating disease. However, there are things you can do as a caregiver that will make it easier on both yourself and your pooch!

In many cases the disease progresses so slowly that owners aren’t aware of the dog’s impairment until several months into the disease process.

In many cases the disease progresses so slowly that owners aren’t aware of the dog’s impairment until several months into the disease process. Symptoms may be subtle and hard to notice, including a dog that is wobbly, has trouble walking or is weak in its hind legs.

Degenerative Myelopathy is a difficult disease for both owner and pet, but can be aided by understanding what it is and how it might progress. The best way you can help your pet is by staying positive.

Try not to focus on the disease and instead think about the life your dog has had, or will have in the future. If your dog is showing signs of Degenerative Myelopathy, try not to worry too much about what may happen next. Just enjoy what time you have left together and know that there are many ways to make a dog’s life happy even if they are sick or old.

While there is no cure for DM, we hope that understanding the disease and its progression will help you to make the best decisions for your dog. We know many individuals who have had great success slowing down or even stopping the progression of their pet’s symptoms with diet, physical therapy and acupuncture.