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Degenerative Myelopathy
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Degenerative Myelopathy

Our corgi has Degenerative Myelopathy, or so we have been told.  Does anyone know of any treatment (other than PS), or medication that has worked in slowing down the disease?  We discoverd this after his surgery to repair his ACL.  His balance, and ability to walk has declined rather quickly over the last three months.  I'm having a difficult time understanding how this can "show up" right after the knee surgery.
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Avatar_dr_m_tn
Two years ago I had to put our sweet Corgi to sleep because of this.  She was active and normal for 10 years, then we began to notice a bit of ataxia or "wobbliness" in her rear legs.  I assumed she had an IV Disc bulge.  After X-rays showed spine okay we came to the realization ofter watching her deteriorate it was Degenerative Myelopathy.  

Rest assured, your dog's surgery had nothing to do with the appearance of this disease.  It just happens at various ages.  One day our dog was walking our 40 acres, and the next day she was wobbly.  Months later she should not hold herself up.  

I began an intensive research on this and found that several breeds are afflicted via genetic lines (like German Shepherds), and that Corgis have "just begun to appear" with the disease in pretty high numbers. Cases seem to have shot up in the last decade.  So much so people are shying away from the breed.  I personally know many families with corgis that have developed DM just within my personal circle of friends.  It is very sad and the Corgis breeders are in a bit of a pickle.  Money is not being donated to various veterinary medical schools to learn of both the genetics and the patho-physiology of this disease.  

The neurologist I went to see did diagnose her, but diagnosis is a diagnosis of EXCLUSION.  I.E., you rule out other causes and in one of the afffected breeds we can say "it is probably DM".  

IF IT IS DM...The bad news is there is no cure.  They will progress.  He will eventually need a wheel chair and then will eventually not be able to control his bladder and bowls.  When our dog began to loose her "quality of life" we made the extraordinarily hard decision to put her down.  

Some veterinarians will simply put the dog on steroids (dexamethsone), however I can tell you it does not do much good (and they will pee a lot more!).  There is a veterinary neurologist in Florida that has formulated a mixture of two oral medications that (frankly I did not know if they would work or not - but I tried everything) and these meds did seem to help her for a while.  We believe it was worth the cost and the trouble.  You have to have a pharmacy in Florida make it for you and they mail to you every month's supply.  

The average for a corgi to completely go down after diagnosis is 6 months to perhaps a year.  Our Penny lasted 2 years!  You can see my father-in-law's "memorial" to her at: petdocsoncall.com in the Memorials section.  

I have lost touch with the site that describes the meds, but I will research that for you and report back here.  I would also suggest you dive into the Ask A Vet forums and post your question also as some of our outstanding DVM's may have some leading edge knowledge on this.  

You will need a good relationship with your DVM in terms of meds, nursing care, finding the right wheel chair for him, etc.  You can always post here and I'll do what I can to help you.  Clearly I have a soft spot in my heart for these super dogs and this horrible problem.  

Let me know if you have any specific questions.  
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Avatar_dr_m_tn
Here is the site you need to read and study!  

http://neuro.vetmed.ufl.edu/neuro/DM_Web/DMofGS.htm

Don't let all the supplements and diet info throw you.  You can follow this advice, or you can feed a high quality commercial food (as I did) and she lasted 2 to 4 times her life expectancy.  As you get to the bottom of the site you will see a reference to WestLab.  They are very nice and if you call them they are very used to helping dog lovers with this problem.  As he says in his site:  Over the last 2 decades, we have found 2 medications which appear to prevent progression or result in clinical remission of DM in many (up to 80%) of the patients. These medications are aminocaproic acid (EACA) and n-acetylcysteine (NAC).  

Acetylcysteine is a potent anti-oxidant which has powerful neuroprotective effects.  The combination of aminocaproic acid, N-acetylcysteine, dietary supplements and exercise is the best treatment we have been able to discover to date. It corrects those aspects of the immune dysfunction which we can treat, based upon our belief that DM is an immune-mediated inflammatory disease.

Don't worry about the chemical names.  These two meds is what you have to use orally every day.  

I'm sure today there are even more resources on DM on the net.  Google it and learn to do all you can do for him.  The larger breeds are in a worse position because of their size.  While carts are pretty easy to manage with corgis, 100 pounds of Shepherd is a different story.  

I hope we can find a cure to this disease soon.  But the Corgi world is "a buzz" about this because it is all through their dogs.  

If I can help anymore, post in the Ask A Veterinarian section.  

Good Luck.  
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Avatar_f_tn
Hi
My 11 yr old corgi has DM We are at the point where we think we should put her down.  It is a horrible decision to make as she is still so alert and loving.  But she can't walk at all and drags herself around when she can.  Most of the time now she barks tohave us carry her from place to place.  We are quite concerned with the onset of winter and how we are going to be able to get her outside in the snow.  She is having a lot of trouble going to the bathroom when she wants to.  I guess I am looking for support for this awful decision.  
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Avatar_n_tn
so sorry about your corgi. mine has hip dysplasia and i think DM. She can't really control her bowels now. Poncho is 13 year old female pembroke.  I think Monday may be the day. I keep putting it off.  She is lying in my bathroom on a rug and i am on my bed so she can see me. she has stopped eating almost, and i have to carry her to go out. She is in a lot of pain from her hips being almost gone. This seems to have come on quite quickly, also. best wishes to you and hope you get through this ok.
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Avatar_m_tn
I have visited my third vet today hoping I would get a different diagnois for my beatuful black  long haired German Shepherd she loves the cold winters here in Alaska. She is 8 and since September of 2010 became seriously impaired and began dragging her left leg. This was truly a shock after my 1st visit to our vet with Eliza he tested her for DM and xrays showed no evidence of any  back problems.So five months later I still want more answers about Eliza and her condition. Today is another day and we have visited another vet and  he affirmed that Eliza has DM . Although we can not change her condition.I am determined to make the best of a tough situation. Eliza now  has a harness which I am pleased to have , it will help me with movinng her in and out of our home which has stairs as well as getting her out more for walks. The harness attatches to her entire body front and back and has handles so I can help support her floppy hind end .For information Online go to helpemup.com
I also have her on the West Lab formula for DM. I was told it takes 2 to 3 months to notice any difference. I also have her on a diet she had to loose weight so she is eating a small portion of food 2 times a day  and alot of carrots they make a great filler. When Eliza gets nervous she has a bowel movemet  I don't scold her it is not her fault and I usually have a bottle of Urine Off handy  to clean up the mess.The most  consice informaion I have read came from the University of Florida School of Veternarian Science.The best  thing about this I would like to share is our  new dog  we found this past summer and adopted is a Corgi, he is amazing. I must tell you he is a loyal and wonderful companion for Eliza . Since he has come to live in our home he worhips her. I just hope and pray that our Corgi will be spared from having DM. He is such a great support to have he must have been sent from God. Usually he watches over her and licks her it is precious.
Thank you all for sharing your stories it means alot to me and gives me a better understanding of what is to come. God Bless all the Creatures Great and Small.

German Shepherd Alaska
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Avatar_m_tn
Hi,
I have to say My 9 1/2 year old boxer Tae has just been diagnosed with DM and I was pretty taken back by this. He is as loving and alert as ever. He is in the beginning stages. He can still run and walk and even jump. However he has a hard time keeping his rear legs underneath him on floors. I am really shaken up by this because otherwise he is as healthy as he was 5 years ago. Reading everyones post in this forum has given me hope that I can at least extend his quality of life. Please, our best friends, deserve and im sure appreciate the effort we all put forth to help them live longer lives. However, quality of life is important and at some point we all have to make the unselfish decision to rescue them from the humility.
Thank you for all of these posts

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Avatar_f_tn
My 14.5 year old Welsh Pembroke Corgi male has DM and has not been able to walk for about 8 months now.  He is both urinary and fecally incontinent, and I discovered belly bands, which I line with women's urinary incontinence pads, to keep him clean and dry.  Prior to that, I had him on incontinence pads, but he was developing bed sores because that didn't keep him dry enough.  You can order the belly bands online.  They are quilted material with velcro closings and you just adhere the incontinence pads on the inside.  No skin problems since.

But, the disorder has progressed so that he can no longer right his front paws and has a very difficult time eating and drinking.  I have to prop him up and help support him, and help him eat his food from a spoon, as he doesn't seem to be able to use his tongue to help get his food anymore.  When he drinks now, he bites at the water rather than lapping it up as dogs normally do.

But, I have him in an orthopedic bed with a lot of cushioning and a gel pad, so he seems happy and content.  I'm just wondering how much longer it will be before I have to make that dreaded decision, but can't seem to find information online about life expectancy with this disorder.

Good luck with your boon companion.
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Avatar_m_tn
I have been reading these comments and I am both saddened and made hopeful by them. We have an irish wolfhound/english sheepdog cross - she looks primarily IW, but is not quite as tall as one, She came to us as a rescue, so we are uncertain about her actual age. She has been with us for 7 years though and was at least 2-3 when we found her. I work from home and she has been my constant companion. I am so grateful for her because we have experienced a great deal of loss (deaths) in our family and I have had a severely debilitating injury in my leg and spine - between my own pain and the grief, I do not know how I would have made it through these past few years without her. We are using diapers now and she is still able to go outside with the help of my husband, but it is very stressful when he is out and she has not gone out before he leaves because I can't spot her and hold her up at the bottom of the steps the way he can. She is about 120 lbs, so I do not think a cart is realistic, but I will research them now that I have read these other posts. A year ago on boxing day we lost our 18 yr old siamese - so losing my Abbey is very hard to consider, as I know you can all relate to. She too is very alert and loving and bright except for this issue with her hind legs and I know being overweight doesn't help - and we are working on that, I have met a vet (we just moved from one province to another) who will come to our home when the time comes to say goodbye to her, I know this may sound unusual, but she had an accident the other night and some of the urine escaped the diaper. As I was cleaning her and speaking to her very gently, I had the overwhelming feeling that she was thinking that she was thankful I was not angry with her for doing this in the house - that she was not made to feel ashamed. It was an amazing moment to feel this coming from her. I felt I would like to share that with you other readers because you are each so obviously connected to your own "friends" - perhaps you will relate to what I experienced.
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