Degenerative Myelopathy is a devastating disease. Affected dogs develop weakness in the rear legs and gradually become paralyzed. Eventually they can’t control their bowels and lose motor control on the entire upper half of the body. This degenerative process can take anywhere from six months to three years.
There is ongoing research for this disease and there is evidence suggesting that Degenerative Myelopathy is an inflammatory autoimmune disease. There is a nerve sheath (called myelin) that surrounds and insulates the nerve fibers of the spinal cord and is necessary for the conduction of nerve impulses. What happens in Degenerative Myelopathy is the dog’s own immune system cells attack the spinal cord sheath. This creates an accumulation of inflammatory cells locally and the chronic inflammation destroys the myelin sheath, leading to progressive nerve tissue damage. The damage typically begins in the middle of the back and this is where the most severe damage can be found. The nerve damage results in loss of voluntary and involuntary motor control. Some neurologists compare Degenerative Myelopathy in dogs to Multiple Sclerosis in humans.
Commonly Affected Breeds
There are about 43 breeds that have been found to have the defective gene responsible for Degenerative Myelopathy. The breeds most often affected include;
The diagnostic tests that are normally performed are blood work (including a thyroid panel) and spinal X-rays. Other tests may include an electromyogram (EMG), MRI or CT, myelogram, and spinal tap to help rule out other spinal diseases, such as Intervertebral Disc Disease, spinal cord tumors, Degenerative Lumbosacral Syndrome, and Degenerative Joint Diseases as in Dysplasia.
If your vet highly suspects Degenerative Myelopathy, a blood sample can be submitted to the veterinary school at the University of Missouri to test for the mutant gene – or dogs can be screened with a cheek swab sample.
Degenerative Myelopathy initially affects the rear legs first. The dog may start to drag a foot on walks and the owner can hear or see this. The two middle nails on that weak paw may be worn down. Eventually, a lack of coordination and wobbliness in the gait is seen and the reflexes will slow in the hind feet and legs. Soon afterward, the thigh muscles will start to atrophy and the tail may be limp.
As the disease progresses, the dog will have difficulty standing for long periods of time and getting up from lying down. Fecal and urinary incontinence inevitably follow. The rear legs become so weak that the dog will need assistance to get up and he will have trouble holding a position to defecate or urinate (affected dogs often walk and poop).
As the disease progresses, the front limbs will start to become affected and weaken as well. Normally, the dog is so debilitated by this point that most patients are euthanized because of poor quality of life. Thankfully, this disease is not painful but there may be compensatory issues that will eventually cause discomfort since the dog’s biomechanics will change and tissues will be overused.
There is no conventional veterinary medicine treatment for Degenerative Myelopathy. Holistic veterinarians use their skills and modalities to improve the quality of life. There is no need for pain meds (usually) or steroids. Treatments that do help and are readily available include acupuncture, exercise, diet and nutraceuticals.
Walks and structured therapeutic exercise are very important to maintain balance and proprioception, flexibility of the joints, keep muscles toned, and maintain good circulation. Eventually, a cart may enable the dog to remain active and maintain its quality of life once weakness or paralysis of the hind legs sets in.
The Importance of Nutrition
Lecithin is composed of fatty substances and phospholipids which make up a portion of the nerve cell wall membrane. It may provide building blocks for the myelin sheath and nerve tissue in the spinal cord. Most unprocessed nuts, unprocessed grains, unprocessed soy, and eggs contain lecithin.
Dr Kruger Pet Supplements Helps Dogs with DM utilizing All Natural, Organic, NON-GMO, Human Grade Quality Ingredients !
Since 1986 Dr Kruger Pet Supplements has been providing supplements that help a dog achieve and maintain proper health and natural balance as required by nature. Our customers with breeds that have a predisposition to Degenerative Myelopathy or have already developed this disease utilize the Healthy Skin & Coat Formula and the Healthy Joint Formula to assist in addressing the issues that Degenerative Myelopathy is noted for in dogs.
As a preventative measure; customers start their puppies (after 6 months of age) on these formulas to build up their bodies and immune system. This will help your dog by providing the necessary systems support through its life.
After being diagnosed with Degenerative Myelopathy; customers start their dogs on these formulas to improve the quality of life for their dogs. Provide the dogs with the systems support, immune support and mobility support that is most critical for a dog with Degenerative Myelopathy.
Dosage Recommendation; You never want to exceed 1 ½ scoops (teaspoons) per one cup of food. The most common way it is given;
1 full scoop of Healthy Joint Formula and ½ scoop of Healthy Skin & Coat Formula per one cup of food.
3 Golden Rules that lead to success using any of the Dr Kruger Pet Supplements Formulas
For more information about Dr Kruger Pet Supplements Formulas go to http://www.drkruger.com
Article sources: A Natural Approach to Managing Degenerative Myelopathy Holistic Care - By Dr Julie Mayer; Dr Kruger Pet Supplements - www.drkruger.com