Wednesday, December 22, 2010
Monday, December 6, 2010
Hi my friends!
As promised, here is part two of my blog on Canine Degenerative Myelopathy where I go more into details about the symptoms, treatments, and care of the disease.
CDM or Canine Degenerative Myelopathy is a progressive disease of the spinal cord. The onset is usually between the ages of 7 and 14. The disease effects the hind limbs of older dogs with the result of paralysis. It is a chronic and progressive illness.
When the body's immune system attacks the myelin sheath around the neurons of the spinal cord, the communication between the lower body and the brain is disrupted. This results in a paralysis of the hind limbs. So far there are 79 breeds of dogs that carry the mutated gene. Some of the breeds affected are: German Shepperds, Rhodesian Ridgebacks, Boxers, Standard Poodles, Chesapeake Bay Retrievers, both breads of Welsh Corgis, French Bulldogs, Kerry Blue Terriers, Bernese Mountain Dogs, Collies, Irish Setters, and also mixes that are derived from those breeds. There is a test that checks for the mutated gene. The test consists of a cheek swab. Not every dog that carries the gene will show symptoms. Many dogs that have been tested positive for the genetic mutation are symptom free.
The symptoms of CDM are as follows:
- muscle weakness
- muscle loss
- lack of coordination
- dragging of one or both rear paws
- worn down nails on the affected paws due to dragging
CDM is a non-reversible and progressive disease. There are no known treatments that can cure or stop the disease. However, with good supportive care, physical therapy, and dietary supplementation, the progression of the disease can be slowed down.
Lets start by talking about supportive care. An important part of supportive care is to keep your pooch free of pressure sores and skin ulcers. Dogs with muscle weakness or paralysis do not turn on their own, thus spend lots of time on one side of their body. This can result in pressure sores. You can avoid these sores by providing well padded bedding and also by turning your pooch from one side to the other frequently. By frequently I mean once every hour or two. When turning your dog, please never pull him or her up by the tail.
Since many dogs with CDM become incontinent, skin ulcers can appear in areas that are soiled with urine or feces. It is important to keep areas clean. When you put your dog in diapers, make sure to check and change the diapers frequently. Never leave your dog in a soiled diaper. You can also ask your veterinarian to show you how to express the bladder and then do it several times during the day and night.
There are many options that can be used to help your dog ambulate. There are slings that support the hind legs, wheel carts that are measured to fit your dog, and inflatable rubber peanuts in various sizes that can hold up your pooch while eating. When you place your dog in any of the devices, please never lift him or her up by the tail. A good point is also to keep your dog from being overweight. It is much easier on the dog's front legs and also on your back. There is a very good website that offers many of the items such as slings, beds, wheelchairs, and most anything that can make your and your pet's life easier. The link to it is:
There are no known medications that can cure CDM but some people have reported very good results in slowing the progress of the disease down with dietary supplements. One of them is Aminocaproic Acid which inhibits the break down of the myelin sheath. Another one is Acetylcysteine which is a very strong antioxidant. Vitamin E, B, and C as well as Omega 3 Fatty Acids are also known to slow down the disease. Please contact your veterinarian for the correct dosage according to the body weight of your dog. Some veterinarians give steroids but steroids come with many side effects and can also lead to diabetes. In recent years there have been more and more promising news with the use of Acupuncture and Acupressure.
Even though Canine Degenerative Myelopathy is a non reversible and progressive disease, there are ways to manage and slow down the progress of the disease. I hope I was helpful in showing you some of these ways.
Love and Peace,
Sunday, December 5, 2010
Hi my friends!
Today I would like to share with you the story about beautiful Mandy, a sweet pooch who is fighting a courageous battle with canine myelopathy. The story is told by her kind human, Mary.
When we moved into our house it was a joyous time. Our two boys were so excited to move from our small townhouse into a big house with a fenced in yard to run and play in. At that time we had two dogs, Samantha and Molly. But within eight months of moving into our new home, tragically both dogs had passed away. We were devastated! Life was so empty without our cherished pets.
We soon adopted a little hairball Border Collie/Sheltie mix and named her Mandy. The first few weeks she slept in a box with a blanket by our bed. I slept with my arm hanging over the bed into the box to help her adjust to her new home and let her know she was not alone. Life began to get lively! Being that Mandy was part Border Collie, she would run after the boys nipping their ankles to get them to behave. She was full of spunk and the boys loved it.
Through the years she had several serious illnesses and we are so grateful she made it through with the help of our veterinarian. One illness we thought we were losing her. She wouldn't leave the bathroom, so I slept on the floor with her, praying she would pull through. She is a fighter and we were so happy that the next day she was a little better and several days after that, she was back to her loving self.
Mandy is now 14 years old but still a big part of our life. Around five months ago she started having very scary and strange symptoms. Her eyes were moving rapidly as if she was speed reading. She had problems standing and she stopped eating. It was very scary. We contacted our veterinarian and after seeing her he said she had Vascular Vertigo. With several prescriptions and a special diet she started to recover.
Just when we thought the worst was over, Mandy started new scary symptoms. She started falling over. Her legs would give out and her head had tremors. We drove to the veterinarian's office. We were sure this was the last ride Mandy would take in the car. We thought she would not be coming home with us. I sat in the back of the car trying to keep Mandy comfortable as Randy, my husband, drove the car sobbing all the way.
When we got to the office, our vet came out and sat on the floor next to Mandy in the waiting room. He examined her as we watched his face very closely as if maybe we could read his thoughts through his face, looking for some hope. He looked up at us as we sat on the bench sobbing and the tears began to well up in his eyes. The seconds seemed to be hours till the exam was over. He began to explain that Mandy had Degenerative Myelopathy and explained that it's a disease of the spinal cord. He said there is no cure and will continue to progress but with steroids maybe we can slow it down a little. He said she is not in pain and if we are willing to help her through her days he does not feel euthanizing her is necessary. We were scared with the diagnosis but relieved that we had more time with her.
We have a wonderful veterinarian. We have known him for 31 years and put our total trust in him. Mandy has good days and bad days. She can no longer go up or down stairs. At night time my husband and I take turns carrying her upstairs too bed. Some days she is able to take a slow walk around the house and other days she stays next to us in the family room. We don't know how much time we have with her. So we make sure to give her lots of hugs and kisses. She has given us so much love. So we will do whatever it takes to make her comfortable and the rest of her life filled with love. We are not ready to say goodbye to our spunky hairball.
Wow, that is a beautiful story. Thank you so much Mary for sharing it with us. I hope that Mandy has many, many, many more good days and years to come.
Well my friends, stay tuned for part two of this blog where I go a little more into detail about Canine Degenerative Myelopathy. I will talk about the symptoms, treatment, and care of the disease.
Love and Peace,