What Is Degenerative Myelopathy German Shepherd? (Correct answer)

Degenerative myelopathy (DM) is a late-onset, slowly progressive degeneration of spinal cord white matter which is reported primarily in large breed dogs. The missense mutation SOD1:c. 118G A is associated with this pathology in several dog breeds, including the German Shepherd Dog (GSD).


  • Degenerative Myelopathy in German Shepherds is a progressive neurological disorder that affects the spinal cord and muscle coordination in their hind limbs. The disease affecting dogs exhibit similar symptoms as found in the case of humans with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis problem.

How long can a German shepherd live with degenerative myelopathy?

Dogs generally live with DM for anywhere between six months and three years. Rehab therapy and regular exercise can help improve the quality of life for dogs with DM. Unfortunately, Degenerative Myelopathy has no cure at the moment.

How long does dog live with degenerative myelopathy?

Degenerative myelopathy is not painful, but often causes a significant reduction in quality of life, especially in it’s later stages. Average life expectancy for a dog with degenerative myelopathy is one – two years.

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How do I know if my dog has degenerative myelopathy?

Signs of Degenerative Myelopathy in Dogs

  1. Swaying in the hind end when standing.
  2. Easily falls over if pushed.
  3. Wobbling.
  4. Knuckling of the paws when trying to walk.
  5. Feet scraping on the ground when walking.
  6. Abnormally worn toenails.
  7. Difficulty walking.
  8. Difficulty getting up from a sitting or lying position.

Why do German shepherds get degenerative myelopathy?

Degenerative myelopathy is associated with a genetic abnormality in dogs. The most common form is due to a genetic mutation in a gene coding for superoxide dismutase, a protein responsible for destroying free radicals in the body.

Is degenerative myelopathy in dogs painful?

In some severe cases the fore limbs (front legs) also become affected and affected dogs can become unable to walk and may develop incontinence. Degenerative myelopathy is not a painful condition and, as a result, affected dogs are generally well and keen to exercise, despite their disability.

Can degenerative myelopathy come on suddenly?

Degenerative Myelopathy in dogs can progress quickly, especially when it reaches its final stages. Signs of late-stage DM appear to happen overnight or within the space of a few days.

What are the final stages of degenerative myelopathy in dogs?

STAGE 4 – LMN tetraplegia and brain stem signs (~ over 36 months) – At the end of the disease, the degeneration can progress to involve neck, brain stem, and brain. Patients will not be able to move all four limbs, have trouble breathing, and have difficulty with swallowing and tongue movement.

How common is degenerative myelopathy in German shepherds?

The mutation is very prevalent in certain breeds (i.e. 35 percent of German Shepherd dogs are positive for the mutation but not all have the disease). It is unlikely that dogs that do not have the genetic mutation will have DM. The genetics of DM is very complicated may differ amongst different breeds of dogs.

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Should you walk a dog with degenerative myelopathy?

A healthy diet and plenty of exercise, including walking and swimming, are essential tools for dogs affected by degenerative myelopathy. The first is that, as the disease progresses, your dog will experience very little pain. The second is that you likely have time left together—possibly even years.

How do vets test for degenerative myelopathy?

DM is purely a degenerative process; there is no inflammatory component. The only way to obtain a definitive diagnosis of DM is with histopathologic examination of the spinal cord at postmortem. During life, however, we can achieve a presumptive diagnosis of DM by exclusion of other myelopathies.

What mimics degenerative myelopathy?

Degenerative myelopathy is a diagnosis of exclusion. The clinical signs can mimic other neurologic conditions including intervertebral disc disease, lumbosacral disease, vascular events and neoplasia. Orthopedic conditions such as bilateral cruciate tears and hip dysplasia can also be confused for DM.

Can a dog with DM wag his tail?

This is due to prioceptive functions being affected by DM. The tail will rarely become active and wag. If the tail is longer, the dog s legs will easily become tangled in it. A dog with feeling in its hind paws will have a quick/quicker response in placing its foot in the proper position.

What is the lifespan of a German shepherd?

Generally, a dog with canine degenerative myelopathy will be euthanized or put down within 6 months to 3 years after diagnosis. Based on the stage of the disease and how it impacts your dog’s quality of life, the vet will advise when to put down a dog accordingly.

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