hind leg weakness

Is your dog suffering from Degenerative Myelopathy!

It is not uncommon to see a dog suffering from hind limb lameness. Furthermore, this happens at growing age but can happen at any age. Why this happens. Number one cause of this condition is Degenerative Myelopathy. other reason might be hip dysplasia, Cushing’s disease etc. Whatever be the cause the affected dog suffers from back leg weakness. Today we will discuss Degenerative myelopathy. 

Degenerative Myelopathy

This affects mostly older dogs of the larger breed such as  American Eskimo Dog, Bernese Mountain Dog, Borzoi, Boxer, Cardigan Welsh Corgi, Chesapeake Bay Retriever, German Shepherd dog, Golden Retriever, Great Pyrenees, Kerry Blue Terrier, Pembroke Welsh Corgi, Poodle (all varieties), Pug, Rhodesian Ridgeback, Shetland Sheepdog, Soft Coated Wheaten Terrier, Wire Fox Terrier. It happens due to degeneration of fatty myelin that surrounds s most nerves and acts as an insulator. This is a type of autoimmune disease.

The first sign – dragging of the top side of the nails on the back feet.This dragging produces an abnormal sound every time the dog walks.

Therefore, pet parents are advised to regularly check the top side of back leg for abnormal wear. 

degenerative myelopathy in a german shepherd dog

If goes unnoticed the disease progresses and back legs cross with one another. The dog walks like a drunk when seen from the rear end.

If left untreated the hind limb becomes so weak and uncoordinated that dog will be unable to get up, and even if the dog is lifted the dog will quickly fall down after taking a few steps.

In final stages, the dog loses his ability to control stool and the dog defecates just lying in one place.

Treatment and Control

Treatment – Degenerative Myelopathy has no specific cure. Once a dog gets DM our aim should be to provide him maximum relief from consequences of the disease. For this regular exercise and other forms of physiotherapy are done to the dogs. For correct diagnosis, I advise visiting a vet. I advise to massage the dog with some iodine ointment from the spinal cord to toe twice daily and apply hot water bag or give heat by an infrared lamp. Simultaneously I prescribe Chondroitin Sulphate drugs orally. I have seen lots of dogs to recover totally. 

Prevention – There is a genetic test available. This test is based on the fact that there is a specific gene which undergoes mutation in dogs suffering from DM. The test determines whether that mutated gene called SOD1 is present in DNA samples or not. Therefore, If your dog is detected as a carrier of this mutated gene, it is advisable to not to breed that dog.  

For the articles on Hip dysplasia, Cushing’s disease, tick paralysis which causes lameness in your dog keep watching our blog.

Post Author: Dr Suranjan Sarkar

Dr Suranjan Sarkar is a small animal veterinarian, working in this field since 1996. His area of expertise includes emergency and critical care medicine. He writes a blog to share his experiences in areas of his interest such as veterinary, pets, gardening, occult, social media etc. He says” One can express all his feelings by writing only”.

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