Skip to main content

Rallhaus German Shepherds

Protection - Work - Show

Home
Houston Hundesport
About Us
Our Dogs
Males For Sale
Females For Sale
Older Puppies for Sale
Puppies for Sale
Litter Announcements
At Stud
Sold
FAQ
FCI Breed Standard
Schutzhund Explained
DM - Degenerative Myelopa
Links
Contact Us
Titles
Titles and Terms
Just Want a Pet?
Different Types of Breede
Photos
Degenerative Myelopathy
 
Degenerative myelopathy is a progressive disease of the spinal cord in older dogs. The disease has an insidious onset typically between 5 and older in German Shepherd Dogs. It begins with a loss of coordination (ataxia) in the hind limbs. The affected dog will wobble when walking, knuckle over or drag the feet. This can first occur in one hind limb 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. The clinical course can range from 6 months to 1 year before dogs become paraplegic. If signs progress for a longer period of time, loss of urinary and fecal continence may occur and eventually weakness will develop in the front limbs. Another key feature of DM is that it is not a painful disease.
 
Degenerative myelopathy begins with the spinal cord in the thoracic (chest) region. If we look under the microscope at that area of the cord from a dog that has died from DM, we see degeneration of the white matter of the spinal cord. The white matter contains fibers that transmit movement commands from the brain to the limbs and sensory information from the limbs to the brain.
 
This degeneration consists of both demyelination (stripping away the insulation of these fibers) and axonal loss (loss of the actual fibers), and interferes with the communication between the brain and limbs. Recent research has identified a mutation in a gene that confers a greatly increased risk of developing the disease.
 
Any disease that affects the dog’s spinal cord can cause similar signs of loss of coordination and weakness. Since many of these diseases can be treated effectively, it is important to pursue the necessary tests to be sure that the dog doesn’t have one of these diseases. The most common cause of hind limb weakness is herniated intervertebral disks. The disks are shock absorbers between the vertebrae in the back. When herniated, they can cause pressure on the spinal cord and weakness or paralysis. Short-legged, long back dogs are prone to slipped disks. A herniated disk can usually be detected with X-rays of the spine and myelogram or by using more advanced imaging such as CT scan or MRI. Other diseases we should consider include tumors, cysts, infections, injuries and stroke. Similar diagnostic procedures will help to diagnose most of these diseases. If necessary, your veterinarian can refer you to a board certified neurologist who can aid in diagnosing degenerative myelopathy.
 

There are no treatments that have been clearly shown to stop or slow progression of DM.

 

http://siriusdog.com/degenerative-myelopathy-spinal-german-shepherd-dm.htm for an interesting aritcle by Fred Lanting.

http://www.germanshepherds.com/forum/health-issues/157682-success-stem-cell-treatment-degenerative-myelopathy.html Videos