Degenerative myelopathy (DM) or chronic degenerative radiculomyelopathy (CDRM) is a disease that affects the spinal cord causing progressive weakness and loss of coordination.
DM attacks the white matter in the spinal cord. Without the white matter, nerves cannot send messages to the muscles.
DM is a hereditary mutation to the gene superoxide dismutase 1. This is the same gene mutation that causes Lou Gehrig’s in humans.
Early: Stiff hind legs, loss of balance, loss of coordination
Advanced: Trouble swallowing, loss of bowel and bladder control, weak front legs
Yes. Within the first year of symptoms most dogs cannot walk. Even with the available therapies this is a progressive degenerative disease that will ultimately end in death.
There is no definite diagnosis while your dog is alive. A diagnosis will be given based on the breed of your dog and a myriad of tests including DNA testing for the presence of the mutated gene, blood tests, x-ray, spinal fluid testing, CT scan and MRI.
There is no cure. There is therapy that can help delay the onset of further symptoms. Swimming as therapy is one of the best advantages you can give your dog with DM.
Some veterinarians recommend a vitamin supplement to boost you dog’s immune system.