Last Modified on Mar 24, 2014
Degenerative myelopathy is a progressive disease that strikes a few dozen breeds of dogs, slowly degrading the pet's muscle functions and coordination. A breakdown of the myelin sheath protecting the neurons of the spinal cord is the direct cause of the dog's degeneration. The cause of the demyelination itself is unclear, though it may be due to an autoimmune disorder.
Canine degenerative myelopathy appears in dogs later in life and first presents with symptoms of uncoordinated movement in the hind legs. Other symptoms include dragging the paws, arthritic-type indications, and eventually progressive paralysis.
Natural Pet Cures: Our resident expert, Ted, suggests addressing the heavy metal toxicity in your pet that may have helped lead to the condition. Thus l-carnosine and selenium supplements may help your dog's degenerative myelopathy.
[BETTER BUT NOT CURED] 11/02/2012: Mr Bond from London, Uk: "We've just had our dog (Blue) diagnosed with DM (CDRM) - 15yrs ago we had the same in our other dogs (Kyle & Ria), we had Aminocaproic Acid sent from the USA to our vets in the UK for treatment & with a vitamin regime similar to Dr C's it worked very well, the original estimate was a few months but we had both dogs still walking well after a year, 1 of them was good for 18mths.
Why doesn't anybody talk of this drug on the internet? Can anyone get it? Does anyone use it?
I could use some now for Blue if anyone can help!"
[YEA] 11/21/2010: Angela from Lake City, Usa: "Dr. Clemmons-a famous UF vet. has recommended to give my 72lb GSD one clove of chopped garlic and 1tsp dried ginger INSTEAD of her usual non-steroidal anti-inflammatory DERAMAXX OR RIMADYL- She had been on the garlic and ginger since her diagnosis of Degerative Myelopathy one week ago-she is in the middle stages of DM and is doing very well on her new meds from Dr. Clemmons and the garlic/ginger formula. Anyone who has a shepherd or ANY dog with DM needs to google Dr. Clemmons and check out his amazing work on this disease-My shepherd is acting like a puppy again-not a crippled 12 year old that she was. My regular vet told me to "make her comfortable" and there is nothing you can do to stop this terrible disease-it's like human's having MS- YOU CAN DO LOTS to prevent and stop the progression. contact me for more info angelagsd(at)gmail(dot)com I have PLENTY of advice and will do whatever I can to help you. I am a trainer in Florida with 3 shepherds and many years experience with dogs."Replies
06/26/2011: Diamond from Salisbury, Usa replies: "I have degenerative myelopathy; I have been to hell and back from so many tests an experiments, exploratory an other tests. I have searched high an low for any type of relief and there is none, I refuse doctors help any longer and their progressive experimental drugs. Then there are the herbal treatments where they are so far and few & inbetween. This is a heavy progressive disease take care on how it's treated and who treats it. One doctor demanded that I take melatonin, so I gave into his wishes thinking maybe he might be a wee bit accurate;that night I slept for eighteen hours, when I tried to get out of bed I quickly got dizzy (I never knew what hit me) but I went forward an slammed my head right into my dresser an cracked my head open.
After I got stitches, I tried calling that same doctors office an no one was there to even answer the phone(s) I called for two weeks straight when I finally gave up. Two months later the Drs. Office recept. Called an said you need to come in to see the Dr. (what the****??) I said that was way over a month ago. That was the end of my visits with him. So be careful of every thing we take with this disease. It's no fun trying to reverse this issue, illness......Peace"
09/03/2011: Lauren from Memphis, Tn replies: "I am just now looking into degenerative myelopathy, as my dog may have it. If you want to try a good herbal support, there is a master herbalist in Australia, Robert McDowell (not sure if I can mention his name). He provides herbal treatments for people, dogs, cats and horses, and I know he has a mixture to treat dogs for this disorder. If he doesn't have one for people, he and his staff can make one for you. They are very nice and they will give you a free email consultation, or for a fee, a more extensive consultation.
It's a little pricey to have it shipped from Australia to the US, but I found it was worth it when my lab had cancer. The mixture you get will typically last from 2 to 2-1/2 months. You may be able to find a master herbalist here in the U.S. if you search the web."
10/07/2011: Heyy from New Delhi, India replies: "Black GSD - 10 yr old with DM. Recently started with cart. Can walk very slowly only on front two. Acute emaciation. Can sit with support only otherwise lying down. Earlier was taking lots of water and also was being hand fed. Since today he is not able to swallow semi food but somehow we are able to put water/ORS with the help of plastic syringe. He is keeping mouth tightly closed. Any advice?"
11/23/2011: Diane from Memphis, Tn replies: "Lauren, I am from the Memphis area and have a gsd that has been recently diagnosed with dm. I am starting her on acupuncture this coming Wednesday, 1130. There is a vet in Bartlett that is supposed to do a wonderful job and I have talked to folks that have seen great results. I I will let you know how it goes or you can look her up if you are interested. Her name is Kathy and I believe the business name is Angel Care. Angela, If it is okay, I will definitely be contacting you for more advise. Thank you for the info on the garlic/ginger."
07/15/2013: Devon from Spokane, Wa, United States replies: "I am hopeful to connect with others that are having some success with the treatment of canine DM. You can contact me direct at heavenwithad(at)att.net
We are now in month 4. We are currently treating with garlic, ginger and parsley and they seem to be helping a bit most days. But the disease is progressing. I have seen the information on fatty acids and vitamins but no dosages.
Any help you can give would be greatly appreciated.
03/11/2014: Kay from Jax, Fl, Usa: "Because of my recent loss of my German Shepherd dog to Degenerative Myleopathy, I was wondering what breed seems to be the healthiest of dogs. Has anyone had some major issues with any specific breed. I know about German Shepherds and Golden Retrievers."Replies
03/12/2014: Theresa from Mpls., Mn replies: "Hey Kay!
I have been involved in raising and showing purebred dogs for over 20 years. Like you, I wanted a healthy dog so sought to find a healthy breed. I looked at registries such as AKC and UKC and studied the breeders. Bottom line: there is no one overall healthiest breed of dog. Like humans, all dogs are individuals. What matters most in obtaining a healthy dog is the breeder. In this day and age we have technology to help breeders make the best pairings they can so as to stack the deck for a healthy litter. And since there is no perfect dog, breeders must make mating decisions based on test results that are less than stellar. In some cases test results will indicate that based on the disease conditions found, a particular animal should never be bred from, should never be mated to make puppies as those puppies will have serious health defects. In most cases the test results that are less than stellar indicate the best path forward in mating that animal so as to avoid reproducing those less than stellar results. So its not a matter of issue that a breeder tests and finds out they have less than perfects animals - rather, its what the breeder chooses to do with that knowledge they gain from the test results that is most important.
To stack the deck for a healthy animal, first find out what the common diseases are for that particular breed. Then armed with that knowledge, begin interviewing breeders of that breed to find out what they are doing to avoid producing those disease traits in their puppies.
So for instance your last GSD had DM; other common disorders in GSD's are Exocrine pancreatic insufficiency, Hemophilia, Hip dysplasia, Renal cystadenocarcinoma and nodular dermatofibrosis, Pannus - chronic superficial keratitis, Panosteitis and Perianal fistula - this just to name the most common - there is a whole list of secondary disorders that do appear in the breed but less commonly than the list above. Check it out here: http://ic.upei.ca/cidd/
So you arm yourself with knowledge of the common disease disorders in whichever breed you are interested in and then ask questions of your potential breeder. Since you are in the USA you can further check out the level of integrity of the testing your prospective breeder does by searching the Canine Health Information Center which lists the critical disorders the breed club for each breed deems most important or most commonly seen in their breed: http://www.caninehealthinfo.org/
You can search within the CHIC site to see which breeders take health testing seriously in their breeding programs. Additionally you can search by breed and locate breeders by searching the Orthopedic Foundation for Animals website : http://www.offa.org/
These search tools allow you to research specific dogs for the specific health testing they have had. So if your perspective breeder says the health test for the good of the breed, you should be able to find the parents of your prospective puppy on the CHIC or OFA website and see the exact tests that were done on the parents of your potential puppy to see that - as best they could - your breeder stacked the deck for the health of the litter.
Some of the tests are expensive and some are very cheap; it costs a breeder maybe $30.00 to have a dog's knees or heart certified as normal and healthy, and the same for the eyes. Hip, elbow, spine or tracheal xrays run $150.00 and up. For some breeds certain tests are more important than others, so a breeder with a Chihuahua may not do the testing you would see for a GSD, but the end result is the same: if your breeder wants to charge you 1K or more for a healthy and well bred puppy, they should have the bare bones minimal investment in testing done [$500.00] to ensure they are indeed making healthy puppies. If the breeder you are looking at is too cheap to invest in certifying the health of their breeding stock, then that breeder is looking at $$ as their bottom line and NOT looking at your feelings as an owner of the puppy they made for the next 15 years: look elsewhere as that is not the breeder for you.
There is a lot of talk and interest nowadays in F1 crossbreds - golden-doodles and other such sporting dog x poodle crosses. I've met a few doodles - sweet dogs! And breeders of these crosses [they are not a 'breed' as they do not breed true] tout they are healthy due to 'hybrid vigor' - a phenomenon that occurs when two totally unrelated bloodlines are bred together, ie Schnauzer and Poodle = schnoodle. While hybrid vigor may occur in nature, in dealing with the carefully controlled bloodlines of dogs the health of the dog or its bloodline is only as strong as the integrity of the breeder behind that bloodline. This is to say that your cross bred golden doodle is only as healthy as the purebred golden retriever and purebred standard poodle used to make the litter, and if you start with a poor quality golden and dysplastic standard poodle, you cannot help but get poor quality and lame cross bred puppies from such a pairing. So don't believe the excuse of 'hybrid vigor' as a reason to not certify the health of the parents of a litter. A breeder must look for problems to rout them out of their bloodlines and fix them, and breeders who never look, who keep their heads' in the sand, will always have 'healthy' animals - so be aware of the hybrid vigor façade.
Lastly, after over 20 years of being a dog mom, I will say that you find your dog where you *do*; I have bred my own dogs, have bought my own dogs reputable breeders, rescued my own dogs and got my last big pet dog off Craig's List despite my insisting I wasn't going to get a puppy from a back yard bred litter. Big dog probably has hip dysplasia - I'll cross that expensive bridge in time. But despite bad hips I would not trade my girl for the world. Sometimes you find your dog where you do - and sometimes your dog finds you.
Sorry about your GSD, and good luck in your puppy quest!"
03/12/2014: Kay from Jax, Fl, Usa replies: "Hi Theresa,
WOW thank you so much for your response and the website information. My last GSD, I purchased from a "back yard breeder" she was a Belgium Shepherd. She also was my 4th GSD. I had never heard of DM before her. She also had other things wrong with her. I have since her death(7 weeks today) I have been on the AKC websites and researched several breeds. I have also been to several Rescue Shelters and spoke with Foster Parents of different dogs. I would be happy with a young adult. I have researched the following breeds, Border Collie, Aussie, Golden Doodle, and a couple of others. My vet mentioned that Golden Doodles were a pretty good dog to have. I know that as you say it is expensive for a breeder to give DNA test, etc for specific issues with a breed. I know that the Border Collies have eye issues, thyroid, hip and can be allergic to certain heart worm meds. I also know there are tests for these which can be given to the litter. I worry about getting a dog from a breeder which may have a bad reputation and I wondered how I would find one reputable. All the websites look great but one never knows. I did check the State Licensing and found one breeder who license was revoked. Not a good sign.
What type of dogs to you breed? In the meanwhile thank you so much for responding to me you have been a big help.
03/12/2014: Theresa from Mpls., Mn replies: "Hey Kay!
I have raised American Pit Bull Terriers, American Rat Terriers and French Bulldogs; I love breeds both made in America and all bulldog!
I hear you about finding a good breeder - a reputable breeder. I can tell you that while reputable breeders may have online websites, you will never find their puppies on puppyfind.com or other online puppy sale warehouses or brokerages. The place to start is to find a local kennel club for your area -google "dog shows Jacksonville fl" and then explore the hits. You should find several kennel clubs and these clubs will host dog shows. Find out the dog show schedule - there are many in Florida -and then plan to attend a show. Go check out the breeds you are interested in, and see what dogs you like, and even the variations within a breed. For example, in GSD's they winning type or style of dog is with a very slanted back; this is not a style I favor. Yet you will see more than one style in a breed, so check out the arm band number of the dogs whose looks you like and then check out the dog show catalog - it will tell you the breeder of the dog and the owner and will usually have an address you can write to contact them.
I must add to not be fooled by fancy websites; the puppy mills, the 'volume' breeders all know that showing your dogs and testing your dogs is what puppy seekers want to find in a breeder, so they will say that on the website - what you want to hear. Yet I have researched public information to see that one website that showed their dog winning a fancy blue first place ribbon was actually the only dog in its class - it could not help but win first place, and that when judged with competition it lost. All this is public info. Again, the OFA site is a valuable tool to see WHO is out there testing their dogs. If nothing else you can do a wide search to collect names of breeders who test in a certain breed and then move forward by googling the kennel names. Most breeders have no problem referring folks to a breeder they respect if they do not have any puppies to sell you.
Other red flags - for me anyway - are breeders with multiple litters for sale, and more on the way; I have enough on my hands doing justice to one litter and could not imagine properly socializing or keeping properly clean several litters at a go. I also wave a red flag at deposits - particularly in popular breeds. A deposit is essentially a guaranteed sale for the breeder that fails to take chemistry and the right fit for a particular family and puppy into consideration. Most breeders I know do not accept deposits or if they do its very minimal.
Do some more research and then stop back! I am happy to help you find your next fur kid in any way I can."
03/13/2014: Kay from Jax,fl,usa replies: "I love your latest reply. Here's what I have done. I went to all the websites you mentioned. I also went to the AKC.org and the specific breed I was looking at organization.(Not GSD) I found lists of approved breeders and I found one which recently had a litter. They only do two litters a year by different females. Here's where I decided not to go forward.
They wanted a 50% deposit to reserve the dog with the deposit being refundable at the sellers discretion. If the dog should develop a hereditary defect before the dog turns 1 year a replacement dog will be given.
Since this breeder is out of state, I can not give a deposit without feeling the chemistry of the dog. In the past, I have always physically seen a litter and basically the pup chose us. To send money and not getting the pups for several weeks, is a little risky to me.
So, I think I will follow your advise and try to go locally to shows and such. I am in no hurry. The other thing which bothered me is the father of the litter was a carrier for a genetic disease. Not the mother. I have no intention on breeding the dog, but I would prefer both parents not be carriers of any disease.
Thanks again for your help.
03/13/2014: Theresa from Mpls., Mn replies: "Hey Kay!
I personally would not have a problem having a carrier puppy; again, if you threw all the bad eggs out there would be no eggs left in the basket. Carriers can reproduce a disease when crossed with another carrier; when crossed with a dog free or clear of the disease you end up with clears and carriers - but no affected puppies. Its a reasonable way for a breeder to move a breeding program forward with an otherwise excellent individual. The key here is that they are aware of carrier/affected/clear status of their sire and dam, so a GOOD thing.
And, you are smart to stay the heck away from a deal that smells so rotten to you; stinks to me too! While there is testing you can do early for hip dysplasia [PennHIP method can be done under 1 year with very accurate results], unless you have a really severely affected animal that is crippled or sick by 12 months of age, *most* diseases do not present until after 2 years/24 months - so the guarantees that have real teeth to them will cover a puppy until 3 years of age or 5 even.
Check out this site to help educate yourself about what a reasonable puppy contract should contain and other red flags to look out for:
Good luck on your puppy quest!"
03/14/2014: Kay from Jax,fl,usa replies: "Theresa
You have been so helpful with all your tips. Because of you, I did not send any deposits and will not. I emailed this out of state person and told her I could not send a deposit, etc. I didn't hear back, that should tell you! I took your advice researched all the websites and I have located what appears to be a legitimate source and am very comfortable. I have made an apt to visit the facilities sometime in the near future.
Because of you and of course, this earth clinic website, I believe I have saved myself a lot of grief and perhaps making a big mistake.
Thank you Theresa and of course Earthclinic. This site has helped so much!"
03/14/2014: Theresa from Mpls., Mn replies: "Hey Kay!
So glad that Earth Clinic has been a valuable resource for you!
One last bit of advice; don't be put off by a breeder if they do not allow you to pick out the puppy *you* want. The reason being, most reputable breeders create litters for themselves - they bred the litter not to create puppies for the sale market, but rather to obtain the next generation for their breeding program. Those in it for the money will allow you the 'pick of the litter', while those in it for the long term health of their breed keep those 'picks' for themselves as they are priceless. Now, 'pick of the litter' is very subjective; the pick for *me* very well may the last puppy *you* would pick from the litter -but you get the idea. And, many breeders know their puppies so well - be it from observation or via puppy aptitude tests - that they know the puppy that runs up to you and jumps on you begging for you to take him home generally has the pushiest temperament and thus will require a strong willed owner to help shape that puppy into a good canine citizen - and that very same puppy when raised by a soft tempered person who is lax in their training could very well grow up to be a bite statistic. So if after all your research and screening you trust the breeder enough to give them your hard earned cash, trust them enough to know or have a good idea of what particular puppy in their litter is best suited for you. Most breeders will have a couple of pups to suit in any case, so you still will have some control in choosing the pup that calls to you.
Fingers crossed for the right puppy for you!"
03/17/2014: Kay from Jax, Fl, Usa replies: "Theresa, yes, I understand how the breeder would like the pick of the litter. This breeder who I spoke with actually questioned me oh how active to I want the pup. Real active, slower or very slow. I told her mid range would work! She is watching them progress and is taking photos weekly and emailing them to me. She did ask me wouldn't I rather have a male than a female. She said they are easier to handle. Maybe because of the heat the females go through, etc. I have always had female dogs, with the exception of one male years ago.
My friends and family are trying to talk me into getting a rescue dog who really needs a home. So, I have been to three shelters and actually, you really don't know what you are getting both physically and mentally. Some of these dogs have been very abused others have been shifted around to different foster homes. I looked at and petted two dogs which just had that sadness in their eyes. Actually they almost looked sickly. As much as I would like to take a rescue as there are so many homeless dogs, I am concerned about the mental and physical health. Raising a puppy at my age(60's) may be pretty challenging! We shall see, the puppies can not go until they are 8 weeks which is sometime yet.
Thanks again for your help."
03/18/2014: Theresa from Mpls., Mn replies: "Hey Kay!
I sympathize with you re: friends pushing for you to rescue. As a breeder I get so much flak from those who feel that my deliberately creating more puppies causes shelter dogs to die. While I appreciate the sentiment, the thinking is flawed: irresponsible breeders/backyard breeders/ignorant pet owners [etc.] are responsible for pets that wound up in the wrong home [and thus the shelter] - not the reputable breeders. As you know from working with your breeder, there is a contract you must sign that stipulates should anything not work out, that puppy of yours is to go right back from whence he came - his responsible breeder. I have rescued entire litters of puppies and have worked with them to overcome their emotional baggage from not having the right start in life; not everyone is qualified to deal with straightening out these types of puppies and adults - in fact IMHO it takes a very skilled person to take on a rescue - something that is often overlooked when sad eyes tug at your heart. Again, you find your dog where you *do* - and I find that when the stars all line up, the process is seamless, much as your process has been in locating your current prospective pup!
I agree with your breeder on the males; a neutered male is one of the *best kept* secrets in the dog world! And for breeders, the quality females tend to be placed with other breeders so females may be a bit harder to obtain, depending on the breed.
One of the things you can do right now as you eagerly await the next set of photos ;-) is to read up! My all time favorite book that I provide to my own 'puppy people' is How to raise a puppy you can live with by Rutherford and Neal. It covers the stages of behavioral development week by week, month by month and explains well why it is so critical to shape the maleable puppy's mind at each stage. Another good read is Good owners, Great dogs by Brian Kilcommons and Sara Wilson. Also Before you get your puppy by Ian Dunbar is another treat to read during this countdown to your new puppy.
Good luck with your coming pup!"
03/21/2014: Susan from St Joseph, Mi replies: "For what it's worth, we have had dogs with papers and a lot of drop offs (we live out in the country) and even a shelter dog. Our last dog was from the shelter and she's the best dog we have ever had. She is almost eleven years old and her age is beginning to show. When I lose her, I will be so sad. She's a great friend. I believe if you raise them well and take good care of them, they will be kind and loving. I've never had a problem at all with a drop off or shelter."
03/22/2014: Kay from Jax, FL, Usa replies: "I visited two more rescue facilities today and although I felt so sorry for these dogs looking for a "forever home" I could allow pity to be the reason I adopt one. I have heard from several people that their shelter dogs or rescue dogs have been the best dogs they have had. There was one dog who I was interested in but she was heart worm positive which does scare me a little. So, at this point I am still leaning towards a pup from a breeder. Unless another dog finds me first."
03/23/2014: Karen from Westport, Ct replies: "All dogs, rescued or from breeders deserve loving guardians like you guys! I agree with the principal that the right dog will come to you. Of the 5 rescue dogs I have had in my adult life, 3 of them had been dumped near my house. In one case, I had passed a dog on the other side of a busy street and had to drive around the block to pick him up because of the line of cars behind me. The whole process took a few minutes. But he was waiting for me in a "sit" position when I finally made it around the block and jumped in the car as though he had known me for years!! Talk about kizmet! My rescues have all been incredible, loving dogs who lived to a very old age with few health issues. However, they have also been mixed breeds, so no doubt that factors in."
03/24/2014: Theresa from Mpls., Mn replies: "Hey Kay!
Kudos for looking at the shelter dogs! Maybe one is in your future- and maybe not.
I know for *me*, when I am on a puppy or kitten quest that I am so restless and antsy - I just cannot be still; I think, dream and see the pet constantly in my mind's eye. I might search petfinder and see picture after picture of what ever pet it is I think is supposed to come to me. Sometimes I find the pet is one that I am to serve as a temporary host for - a stop along that pet's path to its forever home; 'foster' doesn't quite explain it. It can be disappointing to find out an animal I thought was for me is meant for another - but I have learned to appreciate the difference I can make in another's life by being this vehicle for which the pet find's its person.
I hope you are filled with restless energy - energy that shines so bright that the puppy or dog meant for you can see your beacon and hone in like a moth to the lamp light, and sound the mental fog horn in the right direction to lead you to him or her!
Once again, good luck on your puppy quest! :)"
05/09/2012: Kay from Jacksonville, Fl/usa: "I submitted a post not long ago about my 9 yr old GS Female back legs seemed to drag the floor. I assume it was Arthritis and began giving her ACV in her water and the Black Strap Molasses. Started this about 2 weeks ago. There has not been any change at that point. I took her to Vet and x-rays were taken which showed Arthritis in her back and he diagnosed her with DM. He also said that I should take her to a Neurologist who specializes in this for a second opinion. There would be an MRI done amongst other tests and quite frankly as much as I love my dog, we are talking a bill of most probably close to $2,000. Maybe or maybe not, they may want to do surgery on the back which could cost thousands more.
I have had German Shepherds before and none of them ever had this disease and they all lived until about 11 or 12 yrs old. I read up on this disease which is like MS in humans and there is no cure. All I can try to do, is perhaps slow the progression down. Eventually, the worst scenerio is she becomes paralyzed and has to have a mobile unit, than she can die from a back up of bowell movements etc. Has anyone experienced this with their GS? I have gotten in touch with an Alternative MED Vet who I have used before, as this vet offers cold laser treatments or acupuncture. I have read up on many things. But truthfully, is there really a cure.... Or just prolongment. Any help out there?
Thanks so much"Replies
05/11/2012: Kay from Jacksonville, Fl/usa replies: "I submitted a post about a week ago about my 9 1/2 year old German Shepherd. She is gradually getting worse in her back legs, as they both seem to collapse. I have made an appointment with a Top well know Vet who specializes in neurology of animals. Especially in DM. The apt is 4 weeks away and other than giving her ACV, Strap Mollasses, vitamin C, Omega 3 Fish Oil tables and etc, there really isn't much I can do. She also has arthritis on her spinal cord. I am looking into getting her the wheel chair for dogs. I am hoping to extend her quality of life for as long as I can. She is still alert and tries her hardest to fetch the ball, with a little tumbling now and then. I know with this disease, this may not be for long.
06/02/2012: Kay from Jacksonville, Fl/usa replies: "About 6 weeks ago I wrote a note about my German Shepherd having DM. Next week I am taking her to the specialist. In the mean while, thanks to this forum and my research, I have been giving her ACV in her water, fish oil and Blackstrap Molasses. Her disease has not progressed and she seems to be doing better. She does drag one of her legs but otherwise appears well.
My local vet gave us nothing but bad news. "she won't get better"..... In other words just sit back the worst is yet to come. I will write back after I have the diagnosis from the specialist. Who knows.... maybe there is hope..."
[BETTER BUT NOT CURED] 06/10/2012: Kay from Jax, Fl/USA replies: "Since I last submitted my post about my 9 1/2 yr old GSD Female, I have taken her to a Specialist at the Uf, Dr Clemmons. After reading up on the disease it is similar to MS in humans. You can google Dr. Clemmons and see on line the diet and meds he lists out. We took her on 6/5 and she was kept over night for extensive tests to rule out anything else. It was not a simple blood/DNA test for a few hundred dollars! We did find out that she also has Polyneuropathy (assumed because of age) and multiple IVDD of the spine. So it was more than arthritis more like degenerative disk disease. Apparently she does not appear to be in any pain. We started her on the meds which include multiple vitamins compounded. The great thing about Dr. C he is not only a neurologist but also well studied and certified in both eastern and western medicines. We have started her on the vitamins and her compounded meds. We will gradually start her diet today. She currently has been on a natural commercial dog food which she will be slowly weaned off over the next 2 weeks, Studies show that 85% of the GSD treated under Dr. C, their DM has slowed it's progression and on some the disease has gone into remission. Because our dog, has multiple issues, this may or may not happen. We can only hope that her quality of life improves. We don't expect a miracle, but had we listened to our local vets, their was no hope at all. The dog will within 3-6 months become paralyzed on both hind legs eventually the front legs, order a doggie wheel chair, etc.
This is a disease I knew nothing about(DM) and apparently it is most common in German Shepherds, but does attack other large dogs. I have had two other GSD and never had this issue.
This site has helped me so much as I have been giving my dog cooked carrots, black strap mollases and ACV. We discovered her collapse on her hind legs back in Nov. 2011 and I thought it to be Arthritis or old age. I have been giving her the above after reading on this site. I honestly believe had I not done this, my dog would be in a wheel chair by now.
I will keep you updated on the progress of the DM for those of you who may have this happen to your dog. As far as the Degenerative Disk Disease there doesn't seem to be alot we can do and we are trying to combat one thing at a time."
06/18/2012: Nh Gardener from Sanbornton, Nh, Usa replies: "For Kay from Jax, FL for dog with degenerative disc--Please give him food grade diatomaceous earth (DE) with his food dampened with ACV, starting with 1 tsp. DE once a day, increasing gradually to rounded or heaping tsp. 2 X/day. It's great for arthritis-like issues, which apparently degen. Disc is. Good human and pet testimonials at a certain site on internet. I recommend also to give him gently melted coconut oil starting with 1 tsp. in food once a day, increasing slowly to 1 1/2--2 tsps. 2 X/day-- nourishes nerves."
06/19/2012: Nh Gardener from Small Town, Nh, Usa replies: "For Kay from Jacksonville re. Dog's degenerative myeloopathy--If she were my dog, I'd give her in addition to the ACV, food grade diatomaceous earth (DE), beginning with 1 tsp. Once a day in her food, increasing gradually to rounded or heaping tsp. 2 X/day. DE absorbs and eliminates toxins from the body. Check internet for sources.
I'd also give her gently melted coconut oil, starting with 1 tsp. Once daily in her food, increasing gradually to 1 or 2 tsps. 2 X/day. It's said to nourish nerves. If she likes it, no need to melt it. I'd also check into the Budwig Diet and Protocol at the Healing Cancer Naturally site. Dr. Budwig said her oil-protein diet of flax oil emulsified with org. Lowfat cottage cheese, heals MS, which also involves the destruction of the myelin sheath. I would use flax oil instead of fish oil, as much of the fish oil in capsules has been shown to be rancid. Dr. Budwig's program is very effective. You'd give your dog 1/2 cup of the emulsified cottage cheese/flax oil mix (the ratio is 2 parts cottage cheese to 1 part flax oil) twice a day. See info and/or video on above mentioned site for important mixing instructions.
I'd also give vegetables as half her food at each feeding--steamed squash or pumpkin, carrots, green beans, cabbage, broccoli, brussels sprouts, etc. Or even sometimes steamed frozen mixed veggies. Finely grated raw carrot and 2 Tbsps. Very finely minced parsley or other green herb every day are recommended. A well known brand of mini food processor for quick and easy daily parsley prep is very helpful.
There's a natural solution for virtually every condition. All good wishes."
06/19/2012: Kay from Jax, Fl/usa replies: "Thank you NH Gardener for you input regarding my GSD. My GSD is a complicated case per the specialist I took her to. The DM tests we do not have yet, she has polyneuropathy, degenerative disk disease and on top of that she has high protein levels in her kidneys. The vegetable diet she is on is carrots, broccoli, spinach, etc. To treat DM requires a high protein diet but when there is a kidney issue, this requires a low protein diet. So, there you go! Otherwise, she is still playing, alert and although her back legs wobble and occasional she slips, you wouldn't know anything was wrong with her. I will every now and than keep everyone informed so that if this should happen to your precious pet, you will have read what I wrote.
I am certain which the "specialist" sees the results of the recent urine test showing the extreme high protein levels, he will recommend me to do something else. Sometimes, I wonder if I would have been better off, just giving her the ACV in her water, Black Strap Molasses and staying on her Natural Balance food? Who knows? We only do what think is best and time will tell."
08/05/2012: Netta from Charleston, SC replies: "Have you heard about Glucosamine and Chondroitin?"
08/07/2012: Kay from Jax/fl/usa replies: "Hi Netta, Thank you for the suggestion for DM, however, I have been giving my dog these for years. Apparently it didn't prevent DM, Arthritis, Degenerative Disk Disease and Polyneuropathy which is everything my GSD has. Since I last post, I have been giving her homemade diet and compounded special meds from the Neuro, I took her to. This doc also practices chinese med. My GSD is gradually getting worse. One leg was dragging(typical of DM) and now both rear legs have problems getting up. She is still walking so she is not "down" yet. This terrible disease paralyzes their legs, they appear to have no pain they just loose feeling. Eventually all their strength is put into the front legs which eventually will bring them totally down. I have done a lot of research and joined a group of other owners with dogs with this DM disease. I have learned alot. There is no cure. We can only hope to slow the progression. Thanks for your response, it is appreciated."
01/25/2014: Kay from Jax,fl, Usa replies: "A while back I wrote about my German Shepherd who had Degenerative Myleopathy(DM). We tried everything and perhaps in so doing we may have slowed the progression down a little. I am sorry to say, she has passed away. The disease had traveled through her body into her throat where she lost her ability to bark and eventually to drink or eat.
From the time of the onset of the disease it took a little over 2 years. My suggestion for anyone who is considering getting a German Shepherd or Boxer, have a test run for this disease."
01/26/2014: Theresa from Mpls., Mn replies: "Kay, I am so sorry for your loss :(
Thank you for sharing your journey here. I ditto your advice about asking for the DM test. This is a $65.00 non-invasive DNA test that is something a reputable breeder will already know about and be able to either provide testing history on the prospective parents of their puppies OR the test results for each puppy.
08/05/2013: Barb F. from New River, Arizona: "Hi, My dog was diagnosed with DM, so my vet thinks. We are not sure, but she has been dragging her right rear foot and crossing her rear legs. I have been reading about LDN and thought I would try it. My vet has never heard about the drug, but he did prescribe it for my Dixie. Dixie has been on it for a week now and I do notice an improvement. If I were you I would try this medicine. Low dose naltrexzone for DM. Do some research on the drug. I am going to continue this as long as possible. Thanks, Barb"
01/18/2012: Walter from Vancouver, Canada: "Any cures for this? Please, our dog has real trouble with her limbs. She also has cushings."Replies
02/03/2012: Jmrusa from Buffalo, Ny Usa replies: "After my 10 year old shepherd was diagnosed in I blew up the internet looking for a treatment. On one site I saw that DM was being likened to MS in humans. So I went on a search for treatment for MS and found promising results from ldn, that is, low dose naltrexone. My dog went from being unable to stand or walk more than 2-3 steps without falling to walking unaided. He lived a great life for over a year and died from an apparent heart attack. You can find much info in the DM yahoo group and I believe Jake's story is there.
Best of luck in your journey."
04/02/2013: Pam from Sharon, Ma replies: "My dog was recently diagnosed with DM. How do you get a prescription for low dose naltrexome (LDN)? that seems to be the only thing that really works. Had her for a walk today and she fell three times. She turned 10 on December 18th. It breaks my heart. I have her on a variety of herbal remedies. But haven't seen any real improvement. If anyone can help, I will be forever grateful. Thanks! Pam"
04/04/2013: Kay from Jax, Fl/usa replies: "Hi Pam from Sharon, MA.
My GSD, turned 10 in November, 2012. She was diagnosed in February, 2012 by our local Vet. I was told within 6 mos she would be down on all fours. I took her to a specialist in Gainesille, Fl, Dr. Clemmons, in June, 2012 when she was dragging one back leg. She has been on compounded meds and a veggie mixture of food as prescribed by Dr. C. In January, 2013, I noticed the one back leg and than on occasion the other back leg would give away. It wasn't long when both back legs were now unusable. She pulls herself using her front legs dragging her hind quarters. We got her a lift up where we have to lift her back end up to to take her outside and to move her from room to room.. Her state now is she has accidents as she is loosing control of her movements. Her appetite is still good, but she is having a hard time pulling herself around in the house. I know it won't be long when the front legs will give out. DM is a dreadful disease. We figured she must have come down with this around November, 2011 is when we first notice the toe scraping the round on one back leg. So it has been abou 18 mos. I have read some dogs go as long as 2 yrs. I don't know if my GSD will make it to November.
I do know, we have done everything we can for her. The fresh veggies which include pumpkin, brocolli, spinach, ginger and carrots mixed with a little brown rice along with her meds from the doc(which are not cheap). We know the end results is always the same, since there is no cure.
It is so sad. I am sorry to hear about your dog. Please feel free to respond if you would like."
04/05/2013: Pam from Sharon, Ma replies: "Hi Kay, Thank you so much for your reply. I have heard so much about Dr. Clemmons. I have researched DM with a passion. I have Belle on Vitamin E, C, B12, Selenium, Chorolla, Cosequin, Metal Chalaen, Garlic, Ginger... I am sure I am forgetting some! Belle's DM started the same way, with a slight drag of the back leg. She is still able to go for walks (slow ones) and sometimes will lose her balance. I have seen a slight improvement... Or maybe it is wishful thinking. I did read that low dose naltrexome works miracles.. When I tried to get it through an online pharmacy in Canada the cost was 85.00 for 10 pills! This is heartbreaking. We got Belle as a puppy to surprise our 5 year old son, who is now 15. They grew up together.
Kay, I wish you all the best with your GM. They are truly wonderful creatures who love you unconditionally. I will try to incorporate some veggies in her diet if you think that would help!
04/07/2013: Kay from Jax, Fl/usa replies: "Hi Sharon, Yes, to add some veggies to the diet. Be aware, the smell of Broccili doesn't appeal to them. Sometimes I add Black Strap Molassus which is high in Potassium. Like it is said, it may slow the progression of this dreadful disease, DM. Dr. C's diet was not to include any commercial dog food, just the veggie diet plus inside cut of fat less pork chops. I tried that for a while and my GSD wouldn't eat it. So, I put her dry dog food back in. She used to eat 5 cups of dry food every day. 2.5 cups in the am and pm. At one time she was over weight at 98 lbs. She is now 80 lbs and her diet of dry food is 2 cups a day. She actually should weigh less, but she doesn't get any running exercise which is very important especially with DM. You may want to look into getting a Cart. I got one but ended up giving it away, as she would not take to it at all. Fortunately, I purchased it used, otherwise they get can get expensive. Hope this helps.
10/22/2008: Tanya.S. Bartlett-S from Istanbul, Turkey: "Urgent Enquiry For My Dog.
Dear Sirs/ Madam, I am writing in the hope that you might be able to help me with my much loved german shepherd, 'Kurte'. He is to be 13 years old next month and he is very sick and unwell. I believe he has Degenerative Myelopathy, he was diagnosed by a faculty professor where I live and work in Istanbul, Turkey. They have tried two different types of tablets but after just one tablet he was sick and very unwell for three days.
It's breaking my heart to see him like this and I don't trust conventional meds at any time. He loves playing with his ball and he can hardly walk now and has got a lot worst since treatments not to mention how sad he looks.
Do you sell anything that can help him and slow down this desease in order that he have a better quality of life and a treatment that does not make him so sick.
He seems to have got so sensitive to anything now and it worries me as to what they put in the tablets that would make him so ill. Can you help and if so how long would it take to get the medicine to me?
Sad pet owner,
Tanya. S. Bartlett-S"
10/22/2008: Ted from Bangkok, Thailand replies: "Dear Tanya:
In my opinion the major cause of Degenerative Myelopathy is the demyelination of the neural sheaths come from heavy metal, most notably free metal zinc. In most research studies they have found inflammatory markers, but absence of viral, pathogens or viral markers. What research is amissed the presence of common heavy metals found in the nervous system such as free metal zinc and free metal mercury being the most common toxins found. It is of interest that dogs that live in the wilderness do not have it, but those that live in the city do which implies heavy metal contamination common in most drinking water and defective filtering water device.
There are two supplements (carnosine and selenium) which specifically remove this, one primary cause, which is also true for humans in other unrelated conditions, but demyelination just the same is the presence of high heavy metals, namely zinc. The other is mercury.
The only supplement that can remove zinc this is l-carnosine supplements which is usually 250 mg mixed in appropriate food three times a day. Mercury is often remove by displacement, which means selenium supplements is mixed in the food at perhaps 100 mcg of selenium yeast supplements. Traditionally people think aluminum as the cause for demyelination leading to degenerative myelopathy, but recent research has uncovered a more common metals such as zinc found in anodized metals.
The problem is zinc or anodized metals is being introduced into the dog system more than the ability for the dog to remove it out of the system, which consists of zinc that has to be removed. This might include zinc, metal cages which dogs are fond of biting, canned foods, and especially faucet water that is fed to fhe dog. Even a brass pipes may contain copper and zinc can also be a source too.
I have checked that most bottled mineral water are usually free of free metals and this can be temporarily be replaced in drinking water instead of faucet water in a ceramic water bowl not using any metal bowls which may contain metals. Plastic bowl is a possibility if ceramic is unavailable. When this is done, the heavy metal source is withdrawn from the system t allow the dog to heal naturally. I have also found a high heavy metals in many old water filter devices that uses metal and sometimes they have zinc and copper in these system. Newer filtering devices now used ceramic and plastic, but the pipe connectors still are very high in heavy metals still. A reverse osmosis water with added sea salt to reconstitute the mineral usually can work best. In this case, the sea salt is added between 1/4 teaspoon per one liter of drinking water, plus 1/8 teaspoon of baking soda. When bottled water or reconstituted reverse osmosis water is used, the chlorine and fluorine is also removed.
To reduce the inflammation in the neural system, I believe glutathione may work the best in detoxification as well, but to promote myelination and reduce inflammation, both fish oil 500 or 1000 mg is mixed into the food, along with granulated lecithin 1/2 tablespoon mixed in the food to promote them.
If metal chelator or carnosine cannot be obtain, a less effective means is chlorella capsule is added into the drinking water or food instead, perhaps once or twice a day. I prefer to mixed them in drinking water and drop down the mouth. N Acetyl Cysteine is somewhat effective, but that's because it is a mercury chelator. The source of mercury might come from contamination, or perhaps vaccines. Interestingly vaccines for animal don't have mercury as often as those for humans. But mercury can also come from other source. A green tea, unsugared no artificial sugars can be other alternatives to remove them. Selenium displaces mercury. However most supplements today are more geared on mercury but zinc chelators the most effective appears to be carnosine. Other possibility exists for using cilantro as a metal chelator too. To remove excess free metals from the skin the dog can be taken bath with betonite clay applied to the skin. Allow it to dry, then rinse, and this is done three times a day for a couple of days to suck off the metals from the skin is one possibility, especially in the back area of the dog.
This is the major remedy for degenerative myelopathy based on heavy metals as the most common cause.
09/26/2012: Ctberner from Hebron, Ct replies: "Hi Ted... Could you tell me the daily, weekly, monthly suggestions...Would I start the Carnosine and Selinium first for 10-14 days then the Fish Oil and Lecithin... or do everything in tandem? Thank you so much for offering something to do - felt very helpless until reading this site."