Degenerative myelopathy or DM is a serious illness that is commonly found in bigger dog breeds, particularly in German Shepherds. This sickness starts off with a losing of control on the dogs back paws. This then progresses to the joints, legs, until finally the whole lower half of the body is paralyzed. This sickness results with the dog not being able to move his whole body. DM starts showing its symptoms when the dog is a bit older, around 5 years onwards, and it cannot be tested on puppies. Its passed down from the genes of the dogs parents and it can also affect its future puppies. Unfortunately, this illness is not curable. However, dog owner can help out their dogs with a few interventions if ever they are afflicted with DM.
Doggy Wheel Chairs
Like humans, there is a wheel chair like device that dog owners can strap on to their pet dogs. This has two wheels and will allow the dog to move around. Its also good exercise for them since there is less pressure on their front legs since it would be like they are just walking or running normally. They will need some getting used to on running around with wheels on but this usually will just take a few days. You can go to the vet or at the pet supply store and ask about these wheel chairs.
There have been many studies that showed how physical therapy can be a very big help with degenerative myelopathy on dogs. There are many forms of physical therapy that the dog can go though. Most of the time, when the dog is still able to move and walk around, hydro therapy is used. This could include swimming and using an underwater treadmill. Underwater treadmills are actually the best way to go since they let the dog use both its front and back legs, but its hard to find access to these machines. Check with your vet or an animal physical therapist for a program that works with the stage of your dogs DM.
Medicine, Diet and Supplements
Although there is no medicine for DM, there are some that can help take out any pain if the dog seems to feel it. Usually, anti-inflammatory meds and pain killers are given. Sometimes food supplements, such as vitamin B which has been proven to support nerve repair, are also given. Their diet is a major concern since the dog will feel more pressure when they gain weight, so a special diet may be called for.