I’m heartbroken. My beloved dog Abby was given a diagnosis of degenerative myelopathy last night. It’s a degenerative neurological disease most often found in German Shepherds. It’s not painful, but her hind end will slowly become paralyzed. Little is known about the disease; no treatment is available.
The diagnosis was fairly straightforward. Toward the end of the summer, I noticed Abby slipping in her hind end on occasion. Three weeks ago, the problem suddenly and dramatically worsened: instead of slipping every few days, she was slipping every time she walked across the room. While running around outside, she looked drunk in her hind end. I took her to the neurologist at Alameda East Veterinary Hospital as soon as possible. The various tests performed clearly showed neurological weakness in her hind end. Given her good health otherwise, the major question was whether that weakness was due to disk disease or degenerative myelopathy. After a week of absolutely no improvement on steroids (the treatment for disk disease), degenerative myelopathy was the only logical conclusion. (It cannot be tested for directly, unfortunately.) Based upon what I’ve read — and given the degeneration I’ve seen since August — I fear that we’ll have to put her down sometime in the next few months.
The disease cannot be reversed. However, it might be possible to slow the progress of the disease with vigorous exercise and certain vitamins. Although it’s hardly clear that such measures will make a difference, the vitamins are no trouble at all and walks for exercise will be fun for both dogs and humans. I’m even going to see if acupuncture works, as I’ve heard that it can help somewhat.
Still, I’m not hopeful.
Abby, Diligent Homeland Defender
Abby, Lasagne Pan Cheesy Bit Demolisher