Currently, there are no definitive tests to confirm that a dog has Degenerative Myelopathy (DM) until post-mortem when a necropsy is performed to examine the spinal cord under a microscope. This is a very detailed process that not all veterinarians have the proper tools & equipment to do this procedure as well as very costly but nonetheless, it won't help your pup while they're living; so, for now, we have to rely on the professional assessment of our loving veterinarians & neurologists to deliver their clinical findings thru the "rule out process".
If you are noticing that your dog is dragging a hind paw, showing loss of proprioception, knuckling, or hind leg weakness, but is not acting as if in pain, then the first step is to determine the Risk factor for DM. This is done through an easy, inexpensive DNA test that can be performed at home to see if your dog carries the SOD1 gene mutation.
This is an important step towards receiving a presumptive diagnosis, because if the DNA test were to come back as "Clear" (meaning your dog does not have the genetic mutation), or "Carrier" (meaning your dog only has one copy of the gene), then it is unlikely that your dog has DM. But, if the test results are "At Risk", then the chances are more likely.
For a full explanation about the possible test results, please go to: https://ofa.org/degenerative-myelopathy/
Each pup takes the "DM journey" at their own pace...
Assuming that your pup has begun displaying symptoms, the most common time frame is between 1-4 years. Often times there are other factors that contribute to the time frame as well. But of all the pups we've seen take this journey, we can confidently say that the more active pups are able to be, the progression of DM seems to be slower.
There are many "alternative treatments" that some find helpful (again it depends on the pup) as in Hydrotherapy, Acupunture, Laser therapy, Massage therapy, nutritional supplements, etc. just know that all of these can be helpful but there is NO cure.
*Beware - there are some scams for nutritional supplements out there (one in particular claims to cure DM) so please take caution and don't hesitate to ask other group members in our #ShadeOutDM member support group too.
Many pups manage to adapt well to the help we give them. There are lots of tools and equipment out now that allows them to have continued mobility, but they do need your help.
The truth is, there are lots of ways to maintain a good quality of life during this journey!
"Dogs are not pitiful... They live in-the-moment and don't compare to what used to be" Dr. Degrasse
Where can I find the tools & equipment to assist my pup?
Yes, it's important to protect their lil toes, etc. Click the link here:
How will I know when "it's" time?
Quality vs. Quantity is always a topic of discussion.
We encourage people to "listen to your pup"
Some pups take this journey better than others so it is really important for people to assess their own pup's likes and dislikes. For example, some pups love water and do well in hydrotherapy while others are not fans of water and therefore would appreciate if you explored another option for them.
We've also developed good guide specific to handicapped pups to help you evaluate your pup's Quality of Life in our "FILES" section. It's available for you to print out and take with you to your vet appointment.
Absolutely! They can both urinate and defecate perfectly fine once they are comfortable in the cart. It is important to monitor how much they actually "go" though so that you confirm that nothing is "blocked" (sometimes it's necessary to make sure their lil unmentionables are lined up so they are free & clear to "go").
Sometimes, if they "won't go" it helps to go find some new smells somewhere at a park.
We are here to let you know that while this is not a path we've chosen, we know how you are feeling (HUGS).
We are here to help you! There IS hope and your pup can still live their best life with you! Like with people that have been diagnosed with ALS & other neurological illnesses, it's all about how we chose to respond.
ShadeOutDM support group on facebook is here to help you thru your journey (There is NO charge for this membership!)
We do have several veterinarians that generously donate their time to monitor discussions as well as several owners that have taken the DM journey with multiple pups too.
*** Disclaimer - information posted & shared on this page is merely for informational & educational purposes, owners should always consult their veterinarian!
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