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208 Breeds, 422 Health Conditions  |  Find a Vet

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Degenerative Myelopathy




Condition Overview

This is a degenerative disease of the spinal cord that appears to run in families. It occurs primarily in middle-aged German Shepherd Dogs but has been diagnosed in many breeds. It is the most common cause of hindquarter weakness in German Shepherds and their crosses.


The disease manifests itself as a slowly progressive weakness or paralysis of the hind limbs, along with an unsteady gait suggestive of hip dysplasia. The toenails on the hind feet may show abnormal wear from dragging on the ground. This disease appears to be autoimmune in nature and similar to multiple sclerosis in people.


Information needed.


Information needed.


Treatment with corticosteroids and/or vitamin supplements has not proven to be effective in curing or reversing the problem. Still, about 50% of dogs will show some improvement when given the medications aminocaproic acid and n-acetylcysteine. Dietary supplements such as tofu, vitamins C and E, coenzyme Q (Q10), and green tea for their antioxidant properties are also helpful. A regular exercise program, customized for each dog's capabilities, is also helpful.


There is no prevention for this condition.


Please contact your veterinarian with questions regarding this condition.

Show Sources & Contributors +


Dog Owners Home Veterinary Handbook

Publisher: Wiley Publishing, 2007

Website: http://www.wiley.com/WileyCDA/

Authors: Debra M. Eldredge, Liisa D. Carlson, Delbert G. Carlson, James M. Giffen MD

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