Hello Old Friends ... I am delighted to see many of you are still here. Life has taken me away from my favorite pet website for the past months but I'm back now.
More sorrow. Freddie was PTS Jan 18, 2008 and I am now losing her daughter, Jazz - my beautiful 90# German Shepherd to DM. I am beside myself. She first exhibited symptoms April 17 and yesterday the vet gives her only 3 more months. Just today she fell splayed onto the floor and whimpered when she couldn't get up. Everyday she gets worse and I know what I have to do. And that I have to do it within a week or so. I can't stand it and I am so angry.
Thank you, nmbassetlover, for your very kind words. My apologies for just typing my comment without thought to explain about DM to everyone. Iíll give a little background and post the best explanation I have found to date explaining DM.
Jazz is a stunning black /tan, healthy, sound, 90#, just turned 9-year old female German Shepherd Dog who has been the joy of my life along with her mother, Freddie. Freddie was purchased from reputable, nationally known breeders with generations of champions in her lineage and an American/Canadian Champion sired Jazz. The perfect bitch. I whelped, raised, love and have waited for Jazz since I was 8-years old.
She has a fatal disease I never heard of before: Degenerative Myelopathy (DM)
Please learn from my pain - a DNA test can tell you if your dog is clean, at risk or a carrier. Learn more and order the test from the organization that does the OFA certifications - the Orthopedic Foundation for Animals in Missouri at www.offa.org . Additional information on the disease can be found on the University of Missouri CVM website: www.caninegeneticdiseases.net/DM/maindm.htm
I found this very accurate (describing Jazz) article here on terrific pets. The OFA website lists other breeds being tested and the results of those tests.
Imagine the confusion and fear you'd be feeling if you were approaching your middle years and suddenly developed difficulty walking. The same bewilderment hits middle-aged dogs who have a progressive nerve disorder known as degenerative myelopathy (DM). The disease causes the dog to slowly lose coordination of its hind legs, which also become increasingly weak. It's caused by a deterioration of structures within the spinal cord that are responsible for transmitting nerve impulses. This degeneration can occur anywhere along the spinal column, but usually affects the lower back.
Degenerative myelopathy is only found in dogs that are at least 5 years of age or older. The cause is not yet understood; although it's theorized that it could be related to an autoimmune response, in which the body immune system mistakenly attacks its own cells. As with all degenerative diseases, myelopathy develops slowly and is often mistaken for other conditions, such as hip dysplasia or spinal disc degeneration. A complete neurological exam, X-rays and an MRI can provide a definite diagnosis to distinguish true cases of DM.
The first symptoms normally are weakness and a lack of coordination in the dog's hind limbs. These are more noticeable when the dog is walking on a smooth surface, and one side may noticeably more affected than the other. Over time, the symptoms worsen until the dog is unable to walk. Many may begin urinating and defecating indoors or in inappropriate locations. This is not because they cannot control their bodily functions, but rather because they may be unable to walk to an appropriate spot or assume a normal position to relieve themselves.
Sadly, there is no proven effective treatment for degenerative myelopathy, although some veterinarians believe that a regimen combining exercise, vitamin supplements and aminocaproic acid can help slow its progression. In most animals, however, their condition will deteriorate over six months to a year, to the point where the dog is unable to walk. At this point, most animals must be euthanized. However, there are steps an owner can take to make their pet more comfortable during its last months and help the animal adjust to its increasing limitations. These include placing carpeting down over slippery surfaces, walking the dog regularly and providing love and support whenever the animal appears fearful or confused. Be sure to stay in touch with your vet as well, since he or she may have other suggestions to make your dog more comfortable.
I am so sorry for your loss and the loss you now face. It's never easy saying goodbye. I thank you for sharing such important information and, as you say, hope it can save someone else from facing the same painful experience.
"Some days you're the dog; some days you're the hydrant". author unknown
I am sorry for what you are going through. It is tough, my in-laws had a boxer they had to have put down because she had so many problems and now that I read your post, maybe DM. But that website I posted says that DM has been around since 1973. There is more info if you'd like to look.
I imagine DM has been around for a lot longer than they first started recognizing it and diagnosing it. Actually before the genetic test that came out last year it was more a diagnosis that was given after the dog was deceased and necropsy tests were done to rule out other things had to been done.
I don't know how many people were willing to spend the money for the head and spinal cord to be removed and sent to the few vet schools that were working on DM. Not to mention it is pretty gruesome to do to a pet you just lost.
I went to a seminar on DM at the Boxer nationals in May, it was given by one of the scientists that help make the test. It is a tough call in the breeds that have over 50% of the dogs effected, because you can't eliminate them from breeding at this point (SAID THE GENETIC SCIENTIST) or you will bottleneck the breeds genetics and create even bigger problems down the road.
There is a fair amount of information on it on the OFA website under DNA testing.
I don't think it was noticed a lot in Boxer until recently, simply because most died of heart disease and cancer before the DM effected them.
The geneticist actually said for Boxers, there may be a key in the DM gene that is also helpful towards longevity, but as many are either at risk or carriers, it has been in the gene pool a very long time.
She also said that in the breeds that have such high rates that the DM gene is probably also linked to a physical feature that breeders find desirable...... maybe like the short tail in Corgis or snub nose in Boxers. So that is another big can of worms that may raise it's ugly head in the future when the testing becomes more specific.
Home of UKC Champions NV My Sassy Flasher and CR Silhouette Image AKC/UKC Champion Moon Vally Can't Fool Me
You have my sympathies on the affliction of your beloved buddy. I also lost a 12-1/2 year old Boxer to DM. Though she had almost a solid year with me prior to having to say goodbye.
I relied on the Dr Clemmon's protocals and I believe that helped alot. Basically vitamin supplements and an exercise regime. DM has been around a very long time. We simply never had a name for it. Think back and remember hearing folks saying a dog was old and "went down in the rear". My guess is that was DM before we called it that.
The DM that afflicts Boxers is different than the one that afflicts GSD. At least, according to Dr Clemmons. But the result is the same. We do the best we can and make sure our furry buddies always feel our love for them :)
pawprint - I'm sorry about your Crystal. I'm sure the protocols of Dr. Clemmons helped her a great deal.
I think those protocols are a good "pawprint" starting with any pup of the breeds predisposed to DM. It could only make for a healthy adult with a better chance of handling DM. As for the diet alone, Dr. Clemmons said , "Diet might help in correcting this defect and allow the immune system in DM dogs to stabilize".
SandraB, allicat and pawprint - Thanks so much for the information and the link to Dr. Clemmons. I have learned alot.
Jazz's DM is progressing so fast even though she has been on Glucosamine/Chondroitin/MSN since a pup and we have added prescription vitamin supplements and the compound steriod. Even though we got her treatment when we first noticed something was wrong, perhaps it was already too late. The additional vitamin supplement and steroid are not meant to reverse but to stabilize and for Jazz, it's just not happening. Everyday is a new low and she's struggling. The confused and surprised look on her face when she slips or falls is so heartbreaking. Our house and garage are littered with scatter rugs where she walks - they help but don't prevent her falling. I am so thankful this disease is not painful for them. We're thinking this coming Tuesday.
***Edited By: lovemygirls on 8/15/2009 4:19:21 PM*** Reason: sp