How To Treat Degenerative Myelopathy In Dogs

Pets are lovely and great companions to the humans who love them. For example, after the cat, the dog is the most popular pet animal. Generally, pet’s purpose is to keep humans busy and provide security, especially dogs. However, like every other animal’s dogs are prone to diseases.

Therefore dog owners are required to get keener while taking care of the dogs. Fundamentally degenerative myelopathy is a genetic condition among a specific breed. However, in this article, I will deliver information about signs of a dog with degenerative myelopathy.

The article will educate the dog owners about the condition, signs, and how to manage the condition and offer the pet the best quality and healthy life.


Degenerative myelopathy, which individuals abbreviate it as DM, is a genetic condition that affects the spinal cord white matter. The spinal cord matter begins to degenerate or break down, thus causing the hind limbs to get weak, which then eventually develops to paralysis.

This condition is devastating to the owner and also to the pet since it cannot anymore conduct its daily activities normally. Ideally, this condition, after some time it also affects the front limbs, which makes the pet more inactive.


Initially, the symptoms of DM may not be very noticeable to the pet owner. However, below are the signs of DM in dogs:

  • The dog may easily fall over if it gets pushed even slightly.
  • While walking, the dog’s feet scraps on the ground.
  • The dogs’ toes may get worn out abnormally.
  • The dog will experience difficulty in walking.
  • When the dog is in a lying or sitting position, it experiences difficulty in getting up.
  • The dog hind end sways when it’s standing.
  • The dog may fall when standing or walking around.
  • The dog will seem wobbly.
  • Dogs’ hind limbs paralysis.
  • The dog will not be able to walk.

Fundamentally the first degenerative myelopathy signs are not very prominent. Primarily the signs occur to dogs that are eight years. The early symptoms of DM are swaying and wobbling a little when standing. They also experience a lot of troubles standing up while in a lying position.

As the DM disease continues, the signs become worse and thus weakens the hind limbs. When the symptoms persist, the dog will eventually get defeated and falls in every attempt to walk or stand; finally, the dog gets diagnosed with complete paralysis of the hind legs. The disease may affect the front limbs progressively.


As stipulated earlier, DM is a genetic disease; therefore, it is found among a specific dog breed .therefore, to find out if a particular breed contains this SOD-1 gene mutation, a DNA test to check get done, however, some specific breeds are at risk. This test gets conducted and offered through the orthopedic foundation for animals.

Below is a list of the high-risk dog breeds:

  • The boxers breed
  • The Great Pyrenees breed
  • The American Eskimo breed dogs
  • The Kerry blue Terriers reed dogs.
  • The borzoi breed dogs.
  • The Chesapeake Bay Retrievers dog breed
  • The golden Retrievers breed.
  • The Pembroke welsh corgis breed
  • The German shepherd dogs.
  • The wire fox terriers breed.
  • The pugs breed.
  • The soft coated wheaten terriers breed.
  • The poodles breed.
  • The Rhodesian ridgebacks breed.
  • The Bernese mountain dogs.
  • The Shetland sheepdogs


Fundamentally when the first sign occurs, every dog owner may see it like any other disease. Therefore a full physical examination is administered to the victim dog to determine the real cause of the limb weakness. The age of the dog, accompanied by a complete medical history and other considerations of the dog get taken.

A diagnostic test may be conducted, such as CT scans X-rays, cerebrospinal fluid (CSF), and MRIs. However, the only accurate method of diagnosing DM is the biopsy of the spinal cord. However, it’s not commonly performed before ruling out other potential diseases.


Ideally, there is no cure yet for the degenerative myelopathy. However, when the symptoms and signs of this dreadful disease appear, the dog owner may only help to provide and maintain a good quality life of the dog as the signs progress.

The dog owner may assist the dog in physical therapy. Also, thy can introduce special hind end harnesses, which in return will help your dog to walk without experiencing a lot of difficulties and also will prevent and control foot damage.

The dog owner may also increase the grip or traction by walking the dog through the grass and not on the concrete surface, also placing mats or rugs on the floors, which are slippery. These methods will suspend the need for euthanasia.

However, the dog owners should not lift the dog by their tails when they get diagnosed with degenerative myelopathy.


As I pointed out earlier, not every dog breed is prone to this terrible disease. Therefore selectively breeding the dogs is the only method to prevent degenerative myelopathy. However, whenever you want to be a dog owner, before purchasing the dog, inquire from the breeder to provide you the results of SOD-1 gene mutation testing on its parents, which shows that both have the normal gene.

A quick sneak peek: as a dog owner, it’s essential to monitor and check your dog carefully. Thus once you suspect that your dog is ill, don’t wait to call your vet immediately. Take a chance and time always to consult your veterinarian on any health-related problems after they have examined your pet. The vet knows your pet more and has its health history; therefore, they can provide a good recommendation for your pet.


As a dog owner, be keen while purchasing your dog; this will save you from getting dog breeds, which are high risk to degenerative myelopathy. In the article above, I have generally discussed MD, its signs and symptoms, how to treat it, and preventive measure. I hope it’s what you expected, and the article was educative and informative. Happy reading!

Emma Thompson

Hi, I'm Emma Thompson. Welcome to The Pet Town! I'm a Pet lovers like you and please feel free to get in touch with any questions. Enjoy your stay!

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