Last Modified on Jan 26, 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.
Home Remedies and Supplements
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.
Low Dose Naltrexone
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."