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  Degenerative Myelopathy
Warning Signs


Important!  Checking the innermost nails of your dog for uneven wear on the rear paws can provide an early tip-off to DM!  DM is subtle at its earliest stages, and often one can easily miss nail scraping until it becomes pronounced.  Perform this check monthly on your dogs to provide an early "catch"...Smiley Face.  The earlier the disease is diagnosed, the better the chance of slowing the progression!

Degenerative Myelopathy is a progressive disease involving the spinal cord. It is thought to be an autoimmune disease.  It appears with relative frequency in German Shepherd Dogs.

DM presents itself with waxing and waning of the following symptoms:

*hindquarter weakness, rear limb ataxia (reflex to right foot when turned backwards, slow, or non existent), loss of balance, difficulty rising or laying down, knuckling under while walking, limp tail, rear legs crossing under body, rear leg drag, spinal ataxia, hoarseness of bark,  leading to paralysis, and incontinence in the final stages...

*DM can attack one or both sides of the body. 

*Please note that if any of these symptoms come on SUDDENLY, you are, in all probablility, NOT dealing with Degenerative Myelopathy, but rather, another condition!!There are many conditions which can easily be confused with DM, due to the fact that the dog will exhibit the same symptoms as a dog with DM. However, DM does not present with a SUDDEN onset, but is rather a slow, almost imperceptible process of deterioration. If your dog has suddenly developed the symptoms described in the warning signs, please make sure your vet looks for other problems involving the spine! DM is NOT a disease that comes on suddenly! 

There is no cure for Degenerative Myelopathy, although there are programs which can possibly slow the progression of the disease. Onset of DM can be between 5-14 years of age, but has shown up as early as 3 yrs of age. Usually, the progression of the disease is slow and gradual in the early stages, and can sometimes be mistaken for hip displaysia or arthritis.  In the latter stage of the disease, progression is more rapid. Vets are often too ready to "write off" DM dogs, telling the owner that nothing can be done to help their pets, other than trying to make them comfortable. Too often, vets do not inform their clients of the program to help slow the progression of DM, and many are completely unaware of the existence of Dr. Clemmon's program

Hope this helps.  Our group is a close knit, caring group. If you have to deal with this disease, it's easier with support.....  May all our dogs live a thousand years..

Marjorie + Jack Flash
...two hearts, two hearts that beat as one....
....you know it's true, everything I do, I do it for you..

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