Definition of Degenerative Myelopathy
Canine degenerative myelopathy (DM), also known as chronic degenerative radiculomyelopathy or German Shepherd myelopathy, is a progressive fatal hereditary disease that occurs in dogs. Fibers in the brain, spinal cord and nerves of dogs with DM slowly degenerate due to a genetic mutation similar to that causing Lou Gehrig’s disease in people. Affected dogs develop hind limb weakness, wobbliness, lameness and gradual paralysis, followed by similar but less severe symptoms in the front legs. In later stages, dogs have respiratory and swallowing problems, urinary and fecal incontinence and profound muscle wasting. Eventually, they can’t stand or walk without assistance. DM isn’t curable. Dogs with this illness need meticulous care to keep them clean and comfortable as long as realistically possible. Unfortunately, the long-term prognosis is guarded to grave.