Canine Degenerative Myelopathy Canine DM
Canine degenerative myelopathy is a disease causing paralysis, primarily in purebred dogs. Dog breeds affected by Canine degenerative myelopathy (canine dm) are German Shepherds, Rhodesian Ridgebacks, Boxers, Standard Poodles, Chesapeake Bay Retrievers, both breeds of Welsh Corgis, French Bulldogs, Kerry Blue Terriers, Bernese Mountain Dogs, Collies and Irish Setters. As of 2009 there have been over 75 breeds and a few mixed breeds found with the Canine DM mutation. Many dogs that had been tested with this genetic mutation are symptom free.
Canine DM usually presents itself in older dogs over the age of 9 however, symptoms have arisen in dogs younger than 5.
Some symptoms you may see in early canine degenerative myelopathy are, the hind legs are affected by weakness, the dog may begin dragging their rear paws and you may notice the nails begin to develop uneven wear. You may also notice that your dog seems to get up very slowly or seems unbalanced when standing. Many people mistake DM for arthritis, or write symptoms off as just older age however, canine degenerative myelopathy progresses much further than arthritis, and eventually leads to paralysis. Something to be aware of is canine DM does not cause pain as the nerves are dead.
Diagnosis of Canine DM is not easy and requires a full neurological exam, including x-rays and MRI. Canine degenerative disease mimics many other diseases such as hip dysplasia, disc herniation, or cancer of the spinal column. Using a vet specialist for diagnosis and treatment is highly recommended. For help with the cost of vet bills visit my pet health care plan page, this plan may be used in conjunction with traditional pet health insurance and does not discriminate against dogs that already have a diagnosis of canine DM.
There currently is no cure for Canine DM however, there have been studies showing that Aminocaproic acid and nacetylcysteine can stop or slow the progression of this disease, this is why a timely diagnosis is so important.
What can you do for a dog diagnosed with Canine DM? First follow the instructions of your veterinarian, and consider using a vet specialist as this disease is somewhat rare. Some general practice vets may not have all the latest information. Some of the best things you can do for your dog is feeding a natural, high quality, high protein diet. Good exercise on a daily basis, including swimming is found to be beneficial. Give your dog vitamin supplements that focus on strengthening the immune system, vitamins C,B and E are important to boost your dogs immune system. Add omega 3 fatty acids to your dogs diet, visit my making your own dog food page and add ingredients high in omega 3 fatty acids or mix omega 3 supplements, into your home made dog food.
In later stage canine DM, you should purchase a rear end harness. This dog harness will allow you to lift or help lift the hind quarters without doing damage to the tail, discs, or spine. Do not use towels as this puts pressure on the dogs bladder. Never listen to anyone who suggests using your dogs tail to help them walk or get up, this can cause severe damage to the tail and spine.
Other helpful tips for dogs with DM is to walk them in grassy areas, avoiding ruff surfaces, and avoiding the dog from damaging its feet by knuckling (or dragging the feet). There are many carts available to dogs with paralysis; these carts have become very high quality, comfortable, and light weight. Avoid putting socks or booties on your dogs feet. The inclination is to try and protect your dogs feet however, socks interfere with proper foot placement and may do more damage than good. Try getting a harness, and or cart prior to your dog entering late stage canine DM, this way you can get your dog used to these items and they will be much easier to use when needed, your dog will be much more comfortable.
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