Degenerative myelopathy (DM) is defined as a neurodegenerative disease involving lesions of the spinal cord. It has been associated with the presence of a specific genetic mutation. True degenerative myelopathy exhibits an ascending pattern as it progresses. This means that it affects the rear limbs first and then moves forward in the body, eventually affecting the front limbs as well. Control of the bowel and bladder most often remains intact. However, toileting can become challenging because of mobility issues. These situations can mimic bowel and / or bladder incontinence.

Diagnosis of degenerative myelopathy is often based on symptoms alone, as definitive diagnosis is impossible to confirm in a living dog. The initial symptoms of degenerative myelopathy are typically weakness and lack of coordination in the rear limbs. These appear to the owner as mild mobility issues and gait abnormalities. Early degenerative myelopathy has the same set of symptoms as rear end weakness and incoordination resulting from chiropractic subluxations in the lumbar spine and pelvis. A chiropractic evaluation performed by one of our properly trained and certified animal chiropractors is an excellent course of action for a dog with a suspected or newly diagnosed case of degenerative myelopathy.

Confirmed associations between the genetic mutation and spinal cord lesions characteristic of DM have been identified in members of the following breeds…

  • American Eskimo Dogs
  • Bernese Mountain Dog
  • Borzoi
  • Boxers
  • Cardigan Welsh Corgi
  • Chesapeake Bay Retrievers
  • German Shepherd Dog
  • Golden Retriever
  • Great Pyrenees
  • Kerry Blue Terriers
  • Pembroke Welsh Corgis
  • Poodle
  • Pug
  • Rhodesian Ridgeback
  • Shetland Sheepdog
  • Soft Coated Wheaten Terriers
  • Wire Fox Terrier

However, being a mixed breed or a breed not included in this list does not rule out DM as a possibility.

Whether your dog truly has degenerative myelopathy or they have symptoms that mimic it, our animal chiropractors can provide them with support. Altered gait, rear end weakness and decreased coordination take their toll on the body. We can remove the neurological compromise from chiropractic issues caused by altered movement and truly help your dog navigate its current circumstances optimally as they possibly can.