What is Degenerative Myelopathy?

Affected brain


What is Degenerative Myelopathy?

Degenerative myelopathy is a progressive disease of the spinal cord in older dogs. The disease typically is seen between 8 and 14 years of age. It begins with a loss of coordination  in the hind legs . The dog will wobble when walking, knuckle over or drag the feet. This can first occur in one hind leg and then affect the other. As the disease progresses, the limbs become weak and the dog begins to buckle and has difficulty standing. The weakness gets progressively worse until the dog is unable to walk.   Another key feature of DM is that it is not a painful disease.

What causes Degenerative Myelopathy?

Degenerative myelopathy begins with the spinal cord in the (chest) region. The spinal cord begins to have weak or damaged fibers that transmit information to and from the brain.  The disease will strip away the insulation around the fibers and cause complete loss of actual fibers. This interferes with the communication between the brain and limbs and cause paralysis.

How do we treat degenerative myelopathy?

There are no treatments that have been clearly shown to stop or slow progression of DM. Although there are a number of approaches that have been tried or recommended on the internet, no scientific evidence exists that they work.  The quality of life of an affected dog can be improved by measures such as good nursing care, physical rehabilitation, pressure sore prevention, monitoring for urinary infections, and ways to increase mobility through use of splints, harnesses and carts.

OrthoVet offers a complete line of lower limb splints.  The OrthoVet Bootie Splint for the rear limb has been used to help assist in Degenerative Myelopathy cases.

Pets At Risk For Joint Disease.

“Porky Pets”

 At risk for joint disease.


If you find the photo above adorable, you’re not alone. We all love to see our pets fat and sassy. However, we may not be seeing the risks that are associated with being so cute.

The nation’s obesity epidemic reaches far beyond adults and children to our pets, who share our homes, eating habits, and lack of exercise. 

Röntgenbild Hundepfote

Recent studies from Tufts University suggest that up to 50% of dogs and cats are obese or overweight.

While most cats and dogs don’t develop the life-threatening conditions, like cardiovascular disease that are associated with obesity in humans, being overweight can affect animals in other ways. The extra weight can wreak havoc on their joints and complicate other health problems.

Degenerative Joint disease (DJD) in our overweight pet population is common. DJD is the long term decrease in cartilage around the joint spaces.  Over time this will cause the animal to have a decrease in activity, sudden lameness, and stiff gaits that worsen with exercise.

Golden retriever dog

The use of splints or braces is widely utilized to support the joints affected by DJD.

OrthoVet carries a full line of splints to get your pet back up and running to shed those unwanted pounds.

Call us today at 866.207.9205 or send an email to contactus@orthvet.com to learn about our full line of dog and cat splints.

Cash’s Story

Cash's Story

At 4.5 months old “Cash’s” owner Vickie became concerned that his front legs where not looking normal.  Cash seemed to feel fine and the local Vet thought he would grow out of the issue.  Vickie was not convinced and went searching for answers on the web.  There she found the Great Dane Lady and OrthoVet, LLC.  Vickie opted for a supportive set of splints and a change of diet to hopefully help Cash.  This seemed to help for a short time but Cash kept growing out of the splints which caused problems with pressure sores.  At that time OrthoVet referred Vickie to a Veterinary PT & Rehab Therapist.  At 5.5 months old he was diagnosed with HOD.  (Hypertrophic Osteodystrophy) is a bone disease that usually affects young, rapidly growing large breed dogs.  Cash was put on a strict diet and a therapy schedule to try and slow down the joint calcification.  Unfortunately they could not slow the bone growth down and Cash had his first surgery at 7 months old.

They removed part of his Ulna because the Ulna growth plate closed while the long bone growth plate was open.  This caused the long bone to “bow” over the Ulna.  Cash had to have surgery on both limbs.  OrthoVet fabricated custom splints to help support his legs during the rehab. process.  The splints were modified after about 2 weeks to allow more function.

Cash's Story

When Cash was 1 year and 2 months old Vickie had the Orthopedic surgeon do a correction on each front limbs (one limb at a time).  This was done to completely stabilize the joint spaces.  Since Cash is a Dane and weighs over 130 lbs. Vickie felt like this was necessary.

The below photo shows Cash after all of his surgeries. It has been a long process for this big dog but now Cash enjoys a normal active life.

If you would like a complete and detailed version of Cash’s story or more on HOD please contact us at www.orthovet.com

Cash's Story