Canine degenerative myelopathy is a chronic disease that affects some dog breeds, such as German Shepherds and Welsh Corgis. Degenerative myelopathy affects the neural sheathing around the dog's lower spinal column, causing a loss of sensation and use of the hind legs. There is no cure for degenerative myelopathy, but there are some treatments that may help ease the symptoms of this crippling disease.
- Skill level:
Exercise the dog regularly. This can maintain mobility in the dog's hind legs. Walking is a good exercise and many owners find that swimming helps this condition.
Feed the dog natural, high protein food. Introduce new food into the dog's diet gradually, mixing it with his usual food at first and slowly adding more of the new food until the old food is phased out.
Give the dog vitamin supplements. As degenerative myelopathy is an immune disease, the goal of treatment is to strengthen the immune system. Vitamins B, C and E are important, as are omega-3 fatty acids. For a complete list of dietary supplements, check out the VetMed website.
Administer neurological medications to treat canine degenerative myelopathy. These drugs can either put the disease in remission or halt its progress. Aminocaproic acid (EACA) and n-acetylcysteine (NAC) are used. Consult your veterinarian to discuss these drugs for your dog.
Tips and warnings
- Avoid putting the dog in stressful situations. Undergoing surgery, for instance, can put a lot of stress on your dog. Make him as comfortable as possible.
- Canine acupuncture may help to ease the symptoms of degenerative myelopathy.
- Some flea prevention and heartworm medications can be detrimental to dogs with degenerative myelopathy. Discuss alternatives with your veterinarian.
- Degenerative myelopathy is a chronic and progressive disease that can lead to the dog losing all use of its hindquarters. Euthanasia is often the only viable solution.
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