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Old 04-10-2014, 11:38 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Default Diagnosis of degenerative myelopathy

So I took my girl Cedar to the vet today for weakness in her rear end and got a diagnosis of DM. Only thing is, I'm wondering if this is truly the right diagnosis.

I got home from work last night at 6 pm. I took my dogs out to play and everything was normal. No lameness or weakness that I noticed (key word is noticed). I went inside to have dinner and when I went back outside to play with the dogs again, I noticed Cedar was a little off. She had a tiny bit of lameness in her rear legs. Hardly noticeably though. I brushed it off not thinking much of it. We went inside and she layed around for a while. When she went to get up, she struggled quite badly. The weakness she has is quite bad after she lays around for a while, but is hardly there when she's warmed up. It's better today than it was yesterday, at least slightly anyway. She can get up on her own slowly today, but last night she couldn't with help.

So I took her to the vet and got a diagnosis of DM. He downplayed and acted like it was no big deal. He mentioned he's seen young dogs get DM and live long, normal lives. I know this isn't true since this is a fatal disease (I learned that after my appointment). So that makes me wonder if he doesn't truly know what DM is and uses it as a catch phrase for everything that isn't hips or spinal cord related (which he believes he ruled out by doing a physical exam).

Her only symptom is this sudden weakness in her rear end. She is 3.5 years old and has never had any issues like this before. As I said, when she's warmed up, she can run and jump (not that I let her right now) just fine. I watched her chase after my other dog, and she's as fast as ever. But when she lays around, she stiffens right up.

So with all that in mind, and I know that nobody can say with any certainty, but does this sound like it is likely DM? Other than hips and spinal cord, what else should I consider?

If this turns out to be DM, what can I do? Lots of exercise? What about any vitamins or supplements? Can medicine or surgery slow the progression? Anything I can do at all?

My poor girl has an enlarged heart and has pannus, and now she's dealing with this, all at the age of 3 and a half. She's a very happy girl and has a good life, but she hasn't had the best luck of the draw.

I'm pretty worried right now.
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Old 04-10-2014, 11:42 PM   #2 (permalink)
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Do you think they were playing rough and she took a tumble and could be just sore?
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Old 04-10-2014, 11:45 PM   #3 (permalink)
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3 1/2 is a little young for that diagnosis.

Did he take xrays to rule out a spinal cord issue or hip problems?

How did he test her for DM? There is a blood test but it's inconclusive - the test can tell you if she has the markers for DM but it can't tell you if she's affected by it.

There's a simple test you can do at home - take her hind foot and knuckle it under so the foot is resting on the fur ontop her toes, not on her pads. If she leaves it like that, DM. If she moves it back immediately, not.
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Old 04-10-2014, 11:53 PM   #4 (permalink)
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3 1/2 is a little young for that diagnosis.

Did he take xrays to rule out a spinal cord issue or hip problems?

How did he test her for DM? There is a blood test but it's inconclusive - the test can tell you if she has the markers for DM but it can't tell you if she's affected by it.

There's a simple test you can do at home - take her hind foot and knuckle it under so the foot is resting on the fur ontop her toes, not on her pads. If she leaves it like that, DM. If she moves it back immediately, not.
No Xrays. He didn't do any tests, just a physical examination, nothing more. He said he was able to rule out a disc issue in her back based on what he did. He also doesn't believe it's hip related due to her symptoms and how she responded to his tests.

He did do that toe test you mention, and she immediately put her foot back to normal. He did it several times with each foot and not only did she very quickly put her foot back to normal, but she was resistant to even let him put her foot like that. She definitely never drags her foot. As I said, her only symptom is this sudden weakness, and when I did some research into the diagnosis he gave me, I **** near broke down.
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Old 04-10-2014, 11:54 PM   #5 (permalink)
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Do you think they were playing rough and she took a tumble and could be just sore?
Nope, they didn't play much together at all. They mostly played fetch. I of course assumed it was just an injury, but what made me think it wasn't (and the vet thought the same) was that there's no pain. She appears weak, but nothing I did and nothing the vet did resulted in any type of whining, wincing or yelping. She doesn't appear to have any pain whatsoever. She is a big baby and if it was causing her any pain, I believe she would cry.
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Old 04-10-2014, 11:59 PM   #6 (permalink)
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Well I had an orthopedic specialist tell me he could not rule out a disc issue after a clear x-ray without doing a myelogram (or an MRI)

Sudden onset does not sound like DM, neither does the young age and one of the first things people normally notice is the toe issue with them scraping their back feet.

There are any number of injuries that may present without pain. I would think crate rest, and some oral steroids would be first on the list. Tick disease can also cause this.
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Old 04-11-2014, 12:03 AM   #7 (permalink)
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Blood work to rule out the tick diseases might be a good idea.
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Old 04-11-2014, 12:10 AM   #8 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jocoyn View Post
Well I had an orthopedic specialist tell me he could not rule out a disc issue after a clear x-ray without doing a myelogram (or an MRI)

Sudden onset does not sound like DM, neither does the young age and one of the first things people normally notice is the toe issue with them scraping their back feet.

There are any number of injuries that may present without pain. I would think crate rest, and some oral steroids would be first on the list. Tick disease can also cause this.
Nancy,

My Brandy, GSD from many years ago, diagnosed with DM before I even heard such a think existed, was 9 when he first started showing symptoms, and it came on very gradually. I do remember also that his hindquarters started to sway slightly when he walked, and the muscletone in his whole back end slowly left. This was all before the symptoms were obvious to the casual eye.
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Old 04-11-2014, 12:12 AM   #9 (permalink)
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I lost my Boxer to DM she came down with it at 8.5 years. You determine DM by ruling everything else out.

A sure sign is dragging a rear foot. You can hear the toe nails clicking as they walk... early onset, But if she does the foot flip thing OK...don't know?

DM is rampant in Boxers so lots of info there:

world.com/forums/dog-health-issues-questions/168454-thatcher-has-dm-anyone-use-dwanecart-wheelchair.html

I'm Gunther over there.
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Old 04-11-2014, 12:17 AM   #10 (permalink)
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Thanks for the info. I feel a lot better already. I can't believe a vet would just throw out a diagnosis like that. I asked for anti-inflammatories, so I'll give her those for a couple days and try to keep her rested (I have to work all weekend anyway, so she'll get plenty of rest) and I'll re-evaluate on Monday. If need be, I'll take her in for more specific testing.

Thanks to everyone that responded. This forum truly is a life saver.
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