As with other progressive diseases, it is not advised that you put down your dog at the instance of his diagnosis. It is for this reason that we advise that you seek professional advice of your veterinary doctor as he has more knowledge and experiences with conditions like this.
Your vet would most likely advice that you do not put your dog down except the disease has begun to have an impact on his quality of life. This article will serve as a guide to help you understand degenerative myelopathy and make the best decision about when to put down your dog with DM.
When To Put Down A Dog Wit Degenerative Myelopathy
Degenerative myelopathy is disease caused by a genetic abnormality that affects your dog’s nerves and spinal cord, gradually leading to immobility and paralysis in your dog. Degenerative Myelopathy, also called Chronic Degenerative Radiculomyelopathy (CDRM), is a degenerative disease that tends to progress real quick. Most times, it takes just about a year or less for degenerative myelopathy to degenerate, from the time of diagnosis.
Degenerative Myelopathy mostly occurs in middle aged or senior dogs. Although any dog breed can suffer from the disease, the most common breed of dogs to have been diagnosed with degenerative myelopathy is the German Shepherd.
Some other dog breeds that are usually affected by the disease include: Cardigan Welsh Corgis, Wire Fox Terriers, Borzoi, American Eskimo Dog, Chesapeake Bay Retrievers, Golden Retriever, Boxers, Blue Nose Pitbull, Standard Poodle, Great Pyrenean Mountain Dog, Shetland Sheepdog, Rhodesian Ridgeback, and many others.
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Causes Of Degenerative Myelopathy
Study has shown that there are three major causes of degenerative myelopathy in dogs. Although, there could be other causes responsible for it in some dogs, these three are the general causes of the disease.
- Dog’s Gene. Genetic history is the main reason for degenerative myelopathy in dogs. It is very likely that one or both parents of a dog with degenerative myelopathy also have the disease.
- Breed of Dog. This disease was originally found in German Shepherd dogs and was referred to as the German Shepherd disease. However, other breeds of dog have now been known to have degenerative myelopathy.
- Dog’s Age. Degenerative myelopathy is also commonly found in older dogs that are about 8 to 9 years old. It is therefore important to consult your vet, as older dogs are also prone to other illnesses and diseases that have symptoms similar to arthritis.
Signs Of Degenerative Myelopathy In Dogs
Some of the most common initial signs that your dog is suffering from degenerative myelopathy
- Weakened hind limbs
- Swaying when standing or walking
- Knuckling paws under while walking
- Dragging and scratching toenails when walking
- Difficulty rising from a lying position.
- Uncoordinated behavior
Depending on the stage your dog is at the moment, symptoms may be more or less severe. Immediately you notice any of these signs, consult your veterinary doctor so he can confirm these signs and ascertain the stage your dog is at.
Degenerative Myelopathy Progress In Dogs
Degenerative myelopathy has four major stages: Early Stage, Mid Stage, Late Stage and Final Stage.
- Early Stage Degenerative Myelopathy.
Many dog owners wonder how they would know if their dogs have degenerative myelopathy. If this is also the case for you, there are some signs which indicate that your dog might be going through the early stage of degenerative myelopathy. In the early stages of your dog’s degenerative myelopathy, he would begin to have symptoms similar to arthritis, such as:
- Difficulty in standing
- Exaggerated swaying of the back when walking
- Walking on knuckles
- Imbalance, tripping and stumbling due to weakness in the limbs.
- Mid Stage Degenerative Myelopathy
The following are some symptoms of mid stage degenerative myelopathy:
- Inability to stand on hind legs even when lifted
- Loss of control over bladder and bowel
- Uncoordinated movements.
- Crossed back legs when walking and limp tail.
- Late Stage Degenerative Myelopathy
Unfortunately, degenerative myelopathy can spiral very quickly and become severe, at which point, your dog begins to have the following symptoms:
- Paralysis of rear legs and weakness of the front legs and shoulders.
- Failure of vital organs.
- Uncontrollably movement of tail and legs.
- Respiratory problems.
- Inability to stand or walk without assistance.
- Final Stage Degenerative Myelopathy
Here are the symptoms of final stage degenerative myelopathy in dogs:
- Loss of control over muscles, tongue and limbs.
- Labored breathing due to the effect of the disease on kidneys, heart and lungs.
Treatment For Degenerative Myelopathy
Unfortunately, degenerative myelopathy has no and since it is a progressive disease, always results in the death of the dog. Research has however shown that there are three available treatments for dogs with degenerative myelopathy and the cost of each of these treatments vary. Aggressive treatments would most certainly cost you thousands of dollars and they include:
Physical rehabilitation therapy; this helps your dog live and cope with the condition. Physical rehabilitation would include exercises and massage.
Assistive Equipments; You could also decide to introduce assistive equipments like n adjustable wheelchair for rehabilitating rear legs; this can help your dog move around with ease. Holistic Treatments; using herbal medicines or acupuncture.
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Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
How Long Do Dogs Live With Degenerative Myelopathy?
Quite sadly, degenerative myelopathy shortens a dog’s lifespan. This is because degenerative myelopathy is a progressive disease and is usually irreversible since there is no known cure for it. Without treatments, your dog has a survival time of 12 months or less.
With treatments, you can expect that your dog has a survival time of 3 years at most. In some cases, it could be less even with treatments.
Is Canine Degenerative Myelopathy Painful?
Degenerative myelopathy is not usually painful but can be very frustrating and stressful for your dog since he loses his ability to do almost anything as it progresses.
How Quickly Does Degenerative Myelopathy Progress?
Without treatment or medical intervention, degenerative myelopathy will progress very quickly. In twelve months or less, your dog will most likely become paralyzed. after this, the disease will continue to progress at a more gradual rate.
Can CBD Oil Help Dogs With Degenerative Myelopathy?
Not all treatments are guaranteed to work for degenerative myelopathy but medical CBD oil have proven to be effective treatments for managing the symptoms of the disease. Ensure you consult your veterinary doctor before commencing any treatment on your dog.
What Mimics Degenerative Myelopathy?
There are a number of other diseases and conditions which show about the same symptoms as degenerative myelopathy. They include Arthritis, Hip Dysplasia, Inter-vertebral Disc Disease (IVDD), Spinal injury or tumor, Stroke, and so on.
Putting down your dog can be a tough decision to make so when considering putting down your dog with degenerative myelopathy, also put into consideration factors like your dog’s quality of life, if he is depressed or in pain.
The answers you come up with would help you make the best decision for your dog and sometimes, the best decision is one that puts an end to your dog’s suffering and misery. Bear in mind that with such a terminal disease as degenerative myslopathy, it is very unlikely for your dog to pull through.
Also consult your vet for medical advice as this could help you make a decision.