Table of contents
- What is Degenerative Myelopathy?
- What are the different stages of Degenerative Myelopathy? (infographic)
- Are there any treatment options for DM?
- What is the best diet for DM in dogs?
- Vitamins for Degenerative Myelopathy.
- Are there any supplements that can help with DM?
- Any recommended exercise for dogs with DM?
- Watch video on how Degenerative Myelopathy effects dogs?
Dogs are more than man’s best friend. Today, we consider them as something more than just pets; they are part of the family. We have a deep bond with our dogs, and as much as we rely on them for comfort, protection and companionship, they too rely on us for their health and well being.
Among the many diseases that can affect our dogs today, none can cause you to feel helpless as much as chronic degenerative radiculomyelopathy or Canine Degenerative Myelopathy.
Degenerative Myelopathy or (DM) is often a fatal disease that affects less then 3% of dog breeds today. However, it is most commonly found in German Shepherd Dogs, Corgis, Boxers, Chesapeake Bay Retrievers, Rhodesian Ridgebacks, and Standard Poodles.
DM is an inherited, progressive autoimmune disease which occurs when the immune system attacks the myelin sheath of the spinal cord. This leads to ataxia in the hind limbs.
Ataxia is a clinical manifestation implying dysfunction of the parts within the nervous system that coordinate movement. This causes lack of coordination in the muscles movements in the hind limbs.
In simpler terms, the breakdown of the myelin sheath results in the loss of communication between the nerves in a dogs lower body and the brain.
If your dog has been diagnosed or showing symptoms of DM, you might be finding yourself in a race against time, scouring for information and looking for the best treatments for Degenerative Myelopathy, diets, supplements and more before the disease’s devastating effect takes hold.
At this point, you may need to ask your veterinarian the following questions.
- Have all other spinal cord diseases been ruled out?
- Where are canine rehabilitation centers located for my dog?
- Who would you recommend that specializes in canine neurology?
- What symptoms should I look for?
Before you can help your dog it’s important to know what stage of DM your dog is currently in…
Degenerative Myelopathy Treatments
As you just saw, there are significant warning signs that will inform you of DM. However, as you learn more, you’ll discover that many of the standard treatment options such as steroids, neurological medications, and others, for the most part, show minimal success.
As a matter of fact, conventional medicine clearly states that Degenerative Myelopathy is irreversible, that this progressive disease is incurable, that there is no known treatment that can stop or slow down the disease. You’ll even discover that many of the medications known today can and will in fact, cause adverse side effects which are completely unrelated to Degenerative Myelopathy.
The etiology of degenerative myelopathy remains vague even with the advent of DNA testing and genetic studies. Many medical practitioners even think that this is an autoimmune disease and with that, we can say that a huge part of what this disease is remains to be unknown.
DM, especially during the early stages as well as the initial symptoms resemble much more common and prevalent conditions. This explains the difficulty in diagnosing early on.
There is a DNA test developed by the OFA but it can only be used to detect the presence of DM for some breeds. So, most dog lovers find themselves going from one clinic to the next wasting both money and precious time in the hopes of knowing what is actually wrong with their dogs health and what treatments can be utilized.
At this point, one needs to understand that they are against the odds, but this is exactly why they need to open their mind to other options available.
It’s in going back and forth and constantly coming to a dead end that you will realize that if you want help, you are going to have to stop wasting precious time and start opting for a less conventional but more homeopathic approach to fight Degenerative Myelopathy.
The fact is, there are DM treatment options. They have been in development in the last few years and many of them have been brought forth because of new research.
Now, to say that they are unconventional may come as an understatement, but as strange or unrealistic as they may seem to be, it would be a lot more unrealistic for you to give in before you even try.
Our goal is to help you help your dog against the devastating effects of DM. With the help of new information, we have narrowed down a list of what we feel, in our opinion, are some of the best treatment methods that can be used against the disease. We want to help you ascertain the multitude of options that are readily available so your dog can get much needed help as soon as possible.
Rest assured that a lot of time has been put forth researching these treatments, even in interviewing as well as polling our past and current Sanus Biotex users so that we can effectively narrow down all the options that are available.
We hope that with the use of this information, you’ll be able to make a positive as well as an informed decision towards the treatment, the health and the well-being of your dog.
Acupuncture is a well-established and vital part of Eastern medicine. Having been in use for more than a millennia it has now gained a popular following here in the West. Recently, acupuncture has garnered a high following from dog owners who are looking for holistic treatments for degenerative myelopathy.
Acupuncture for the treatment of DM is carried out by inserting long, hair-thin needles at the various pressure points within the dog’s spinal column. Energy is then channeled through stimulation towards the needles located at various pressure points. The energy that is being directed towards these key points will then remove the blockages of the normal flow of energy within your dog’s body.
In theory, acupuncture should clear the blocked pathways within the spinal column caused by the disease and in-turn relieve some, if not all of the most common symptoms of the disease.
Amazingly, there have been numerous reports regarding the success of this treatment method. Many of our clients can attest to the fact that the acupuncture treatment has made a remarkable improvement in their dogs overall well-being. Continued treatment however, is a must and routine visits on a weekly basis are necessary in order to get the best results.
Our viewpoint at Holistic Doggie is certainly one with much optimism; though we believe that every dog suffering from degenerative myelopathy will react differently to each and every treatment, we believe that it is possible for your dog to have a great outcome with acupuncture.
On a statistical standpoint, recent polling with our clients who continued to use Sanus Biotex together with continuous acupuncture treatments report a 68%-71% success rate in relieving the symptoms of Degenerative Myelopathy.
We do express our belief that the success rate is significant enough to at the very least, deserve some consideration. Bearing in mind that clinical successes and even the slightest improvements in health are so rare when it comes to DM this option would definitely be a huge step towards your dog’s improvement.
We suggest that you go ahead and pick up your phone and begin your search for solutions and answers at the nearest canine acupuncture clinic in your area.
Among the many conventional treatments for DM, hydro-treadmill therapy has been known to prolong the length of time that your dog will be able to use his or her limbs and also increase the length of survival time.
It allows your dog to stay active and mobile while exercising. Hydro-treadmill therapy is the use of an underwater treadmill which helps with the treatment of dogs with degenerative myelopathy by strengthening muscles as well as by re-educating the dog’s hind muscles.
It also will help improve your dog’s flexibility as well as balance, and will dramatically improve the circulation in and around a dog’s spine. At the same time it will even help control your dog’s weight gain.
Used since the 70’s for rehabilitating race horses, this therapy is relatively a new treatment against DM, but it is a well-documented fact that it does have promising results.
Hydro-treadmill therapy is becoming more popular for helping dogs with DM and should very well be considered as a viable option that could help slow down the progression of DM.
Dogs which are suffering from degenerative myelopathy may not undergo any type of strenuous exercise or strain. They should not allowed to do certain activities which can may cause pain such as running or taking long walks. Unfortunately, not allowing them to do so can actually result in an increase of tissue fluid from the legs to the heart.
With an increased circulation brought about by a therapeutic massage, your dog can effectively negate the increase of tissue fluid as the massage is roughly equivalent to a thirty-minute brisk walk. So for dogs who are suffering from degenerative myelopathy the best alternative would be a therapeutic massage.
On a side note, a very pleasant effect with this treatment is that most dogs will actually enjoy it. Your dog will have a blast getting the extra love and attention.
Asking for the help of a specialized canine massage therapist with hands on experience in handling dogs with DM will be the best way for you to start the treatment. These therapists are skilled with the ability to stimulate the energy vectors surrounding the spinal column via the neuromuscular and meridian pathways.
If a skilled therapist is not available, you can opt to buy one of the numerous books and DVD’s available that teach even a novice the correct techniques.
A massage from a professional canine therapist can do wonders, however, a massage done on your own is still in accordance with known forms of holistic treatments for degenerative myelopathy and as such, your dog can greatly benefit from both for as long as it is done regularly.
Some other benefits of therapeutic massage include:
- An Increase in the opening and support of the energetic, neuro-muscular and intracellular pathways.
- It can make your dog’s receptors more receptive.
- It can relieve stress and helps support natural nerve regeneration.
- Supports and influences both the physical and emotional aspects of your dog’s life.
Pulsed Signal Therapy (PST)
Pulsed Signal Therapy or PST is one of the technologically advanced treatments available for Degenerative Myelopathy. Designed primarily for the treatment of osteoarthritis in humans, it is commonly employed for tendon or ligament injuries. Much like Hydro-treadmill therapy, PST also looks very promising as recent studies have shown.
It is believed by some experts, that each nerve membrane is surrounded by a unique electrical field which helps with the natural regeneration of nerve membranes throughout a dog’s life. What PST does, is it sends pulsed signals through a dog’s body which will reinforce these electrical fields. In doing so it promotes the repair of damaged cells and also enhances the maintenance process.
In theory, the treatment revolves around the belief that if a nerve disorder is present, it can ultimately be attributed to a disturbance in the surrounding electrical field. PST works by isolating these disturbances and then by repairing the affected area by stimulating the surrounding healthy nerves and increasing a dog’s natural neuro-regeneration abilities.
PST is more commonly used in Europe and has just recently received approval by the FDA for use in the United States.
Best Diet for Degenerative Myelopathy
If your dog was diagnosed with Degenerative Myelopathy one of the best things you can do is to switch your dog to a raw food diet. When it comes to Degenerative Myelopathy, your dogs immune system plays a vital role. However, many homeopathic DM treatments rely heavily on the suppression of their immune system.
By eliminating the toxins found in most pre-processed dog foods can play an important role in helping dogs with DM. Studies have shown, an all natural nutritional diet consisting of meats, veggies and fruits can help correct and stabilize a dogs immune system.
Here is a list of foods with anti-inflammatory properties that any dog with DM will benefit from. Don’t forget to include a portion of poultry, beef, lamb or pork chop with every meal.
Initially, the main focus is to get your dog’s digestive system accustomed to eating raw food – so take it slow. Overtime, you will start introducing other meats, bones, fat, organs, vegetables and fruits combined in precisely the correct balance just as Mother Nature intended.
On the other side of the coin, there are some risks to feeding your dog raw food. A dog without a healthy immune system may not be able to digest raw food correctly. If this is the case, consider the use of probiotic supplements. And always be careful giving your dog small bones that they can choke on.
However, most dogs will be able to handle these risks with no problem. Just keep in mind, that you may need to adjust accordingly if and when your dog is having trouble digesting his/her new diet.
The use of vitamins are an important part of your dog’s diet. Especially, for dogs suffering from Degenerative Myelopathy. Vitamins may even help in delaying the progression of this dreadful disease and relieve stress caused by the loss of mobility. Two of the more helpful vitamins for dogs are bromelain and vitamin B-12.
Bromelain is an anti-inflammatory enzyme that comes from the pineapple plant and helps in digesting proteins. Its absorption capabilities has a stimulating effect on the development of plasmin.
Plasmin is a serine protease that acts to dissolve fibrin blood clots. Because of the inflammatory capacity of bromelain, it is considered helpful in healing wounds, sprains, swelling as well as muscle damage in dogs.
Bromelain is also known as a natural antihistamine. It will also help dogs suffering from a multitude of digestive problems. Bromelain is considered a safe all-natural supplement with no toxicity. However in rare cases, side effects for dogs may include diarrhea, vomiting or other stomach aliments.
Vitamin B-12 is another recommended vitamin for dogs suffering from DM. Vitamin B-12 plays an important role in a dog’s body. Together with folic acid and iron, it works to make sure a dog’s nervous system is functioning properly. It’s also vital for the healthy growth of cells in the body.
Vitamin B-12 promotes a healthy appetite, aids in the breakdown of nutrients and helps with the formation of red blood cells. In-addition, Vitamin B-12 helps maintain normal energy levels and has no side-effects.
Vitamin B-12 readily dissolves in water and any excess is easily eliminated. The most abundant source of vitamin B-12 is found in raw meat products. A lack of vitamin b-12 among dogs can actually lead to other health issues; for example, gastrointestinal disease.
Supplementation is an important, yet normally overlooked part in raising a healthy and happy dog. However, the use of Degenerative Myelopathy supplements are extremely important at any stage of DM.
Below, you’ll find a complete list of the Best Degenerative Myelopathy Supplements for dogs in regards to slowing down the progression of this horrible disease and improving the quality of life for your dog.
First on our list are antioxidants, which are very beneficial and can increase the quality of your dogs life. Antioxidants actually help prevent cellular damage caused by free radicals and are also known for boosting a dog’s immune system.
In a way, they provide a major defense against the damage of oxidative stress, aside from its anti-aging properties, it can also help fight against chronic degenerative diseases, including Canine Degenerative Myelopathy.
All dogs need antioxidants; this is because most dogs today are exposed to harmful chemicals coming from pesticides, cigarette smoke and other pollutants.
Dogs nowadays are also fed a commercialized dog food which contain lesser amounts of antioxidants when compared to fresh, raw food items. All dogs can benefit from antioxidant supplementation especially when you want to protect against an autoimmune disease.
Some useful antioxidants for Degenerative Myelopathy are:
- Bioflavonoids – help to decrease allergic reactions, asthmatic attacks and have anti-cancer benefits for your dog.
- Green Tea – Helps protect the blood vessels nourishing your dog’s heart and brain. Studies also show the importance of green tea for dogs suffering with DM as well.
- Melatonin – acts to normalize sleep patterns. It also protects your dog’s brain and has been used successfully with cancer therapy.
Veterinarians generally tell us that, if you choose a premium dog food or a dog food that reads “complete and balanced,” you may not need to give your dog additional supplements or vitamins.
However, there are exceptions to this: old dogs, sick dogs, overweight dogs, dogs with vitamin or mineral deficiencies – they all need to take supplements to help them get back on top of their game as soon as possible.
Best Exercises for DM
These exercises are categorized into balancing exercises, coordination exercises and strengthening exercises.
Balancing exercises for dogs with Degenerative Myelopathy makes use of equipment specifically designed to strengthen weak muscles as well as build up limb muscles that have been affected.
Physio-balls, wobble boards and balance boards are just some of the equipment normally used. These exercises are very beneficial to dogs having neurological problems.
Another type of exercise is the coordination exercise. Coordination exercises actually help improve a dog’s awareness of its surroundings. These exercises are helpful to dogs that are suffering from any form of neurological condition or problem with their spinal column. Some examples, are the cavaletti, weaves and figure eights.
The Cavaletti is an exercise where the dog is given an obstacle to walk over. In this exercise, the dog becomes more focused as to where each foot should be placed thus building coordination.
Weave and figure eights also help build strength and coordination as it forces the dog to shift its weight quickly from one side to the other. Both of these exercises can be done at a “walking pace” if your dog has mobility issues due to DM.
Strengthening exercises are also recommended. Activities such as walking uphill and downhill are effective strengthening exercises as long as it’s done with extreme care. It will help increase muscle mass and help with balance.
It’s important to know that DM, because of the initial symptoms: decreased activity, trouble getting up and laying down, oration, soreness, etc – is often misdiagnosed as arthritis or more commonly, hip displasia.
Any misdiagnosis at this stage can be a fatal mistake. If the disease is allowed to progress through the body, the dog will eventually display front limb involvement and extensive muscle atrophy. At this stage, even with help such as, Sanus Biotex, a successful outcome is highly unlikely.
Because Degenerative Myelopathy is a progressive disease we cannot stress the importance of trying a holistic approach, ASAP!
Although their have been a few cases of successfully treating dogs in the later stages of DM with Sanus Biotex. It’s best to always begin sooner rather then later.
A dog diagnosed with Degenerative Myelopathy will normally succumb to the disease within a few months. The outcome is bleak and without specialized treatment your dog will sadly need to be put down as DM always results in paralysis.
Unfortunately, to date, there is no 100% cure that has proven to work successfully with all dog breeds. But, much has been learned over the past few years and with extensive research by some of the worlds most renowned veterinarians and scientists have yielded incredible breakthroughs in how we go about successfully treating Degenerative Myelopathy.
Regardless, of what others say, the progression of DM may be suppressed and even slowed down. We’ve had thousands of dog owners attest to this statement since 2009. Especially, if you choose a homeopathic treatment as soon as possible.