Degenerative Myelopathy is a gradually progressive disease that first causes paralysis in the hind legs.
This disease slowly continues along the spine putting a halt to and freezing other body parts. It first begins with dogs loosing control of either one or both hind limbs and having a so-called 'drunk sailor' look to their walk.
As the disease worsens, the dog has extreme difficulty in keeping both hind legs up and soon uses his front leg strength to drag himself around.
It usually occurs in larger dog breeds, but recent research shows that a specific gene has been associated with an increased risk of Degenerative Myelopathy, making the disease available to any dog breed that has this gene. Typically the disease can last anywhere between six months to a year before the dog becomes completely paraplegic.
My dog, a German Shepherd mixed with a Siberian husky, had been walking a bit funny one day but, not taking much note to it, we continued our daily routine as if it was normal.
A couple of days passed by and it seemed like her condition was worsening, so I did the next best thing and took her to the Veterinarian. She had no sensation in her legs and did not feel any pain during her check up. She was soon diagnosed with Degenerative Myelopathy at only the age of three.
This was an very early age for the disease to start; it usually becomes apparent between the ages of five to the age of fourteen.
It soon became a need for me to know some basic dog first aid to help her through the process as the vet told me that there was nothing they could do.
They recommended for her to undergo some electric shock acupuncture to hopefully slow the process down and restore some feeling. This by no means was cheap on my wallet, but putting her down just was not an option for me. She was not in any pain, so risking the money was worth it to me.
My dog went to these twice a week for over three months and her condition greatly improved. The vet, previously saying she will never walk again, was greatly impressed with the progress and was glad I did not decide to put her down in the end.
Since my dog's condition improved, I stopped the acupuncture sessions to see if her status would remain the same or deteriorate.
I kept feeding her capsules the therapist recommended which was American ginseng, Omegas 3, 6, and 9, and Coenzyme Q10, one capsule a day from each bottle. As she was so young and healthy, I would help exercise her hind legs by making her walk on them for a couple of seconds a day and increasing it to minutes over time.
The vet told me it was Degenerative Myelopathy, but I personally believe it was something spine related as her condition has still remained the same. On March 8th she turned eight years old, still walks a bit funny, and is still my puppy.
Another dog disease you should read about is Dog Hip Dysplasia