Also known as Chronic Degenerative Radiculomyelopathy, DM or CDRM, this condition is a progressive disease of the spinal cord. The origin is unknown but it affects older dogs typically between 7 and 14 years of age.
It usually begins with a loss of co-ordination in the hind legs. Eventually weakness sets in and then paralysis. Essentially it is caused by a disintegration of the myelin sheaths around the spinal neurons. As the protective tissues deteriorate so do the underlying nerve fibres (axons), this causes a breakdown in the how the brain communicates with the spinal cord.
The clinical signs appear gradually but will worsen over time. As this condition affects older dogs, many owners mistake the symptoms for arthritis. If you see any signs then take your dog to the vet immediately as prompt diagnosis and treatment can help delay the advancement.
The condition is not curable and there are currently no treatments that can slow or stop the progression of this disease.
DM is most commonly seen in aging German Shepherds. Other large purebred dogs that have been affected include the Pembroke and Cardigan Welsh Corgi, Standard Poodle, Rhodesian Ridgeback, Collie, Boxer, Chesapeake Bay Retriever and Irish setter.
Exercise remains important for those diagnosed with this condition as it will maintain the dogs ability to walk. Physiotherapy may also prolong the mobility and increase survival time. Hydrotherapy is a great form of exercise for dogs suffering from DM.
Quincy Dogs mobility harness was designed with DM in mind and is an invaluable aid to get the dog mobile. It allows the handler to support the dogs hind legs while exercising or going up and down the stairs. As paralysis sets in a 2 wheel cart or dog wheelchair will allow the dog to remain active and maintain a quality of life longer.