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.