Degenerative Spinal Disease? - German Shepherd Dog Forums
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post #1 of 21 (permalink) Old 04-06-2009, 04:49 PM Thread Starter
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Degenerative Spinal Disease?

I rescued my GSD in 1999. She was probably around 1.5 years old, and had already been spayed. Her previous history is unknown, but I had her hips checked and they were/are good.

In 2006 a vet mentioned that she might be the early stages of a neurological disease for which there is no treatment. She said the disease can progress very fast or very slow. I am almost certain that she said the condition was painless; common in GSDs, and would eventually cause her to lose the use of her back legs, if she did indeed have it. At the time her biggest problem was what appeared to be arthritis, so she went on pain meds. Please note that she was NOT diagnosed with this neurological disease. Basically, since there was no treatment, all we could do was wait.

Recently she's been deteriorating at a much faster rate. I had to her a different vet (we moved) who said she thought that the previous vet probably meant cauda equina syndrome. I looked this up, and although some of the symptoms are pretty convincing (losing muscle mass from back legs, walks with a weird gate, has trouble getting up and some trouble defecating, etc.), Mia does not appear to have sharp pain in her back, legs or tail. She never cries out. AND CAUDA EQUINA IS TREATABLE with surgery and/or prednisolone.

I almost can't believe her previous vet wouldn't have mentioned the prednisolone or surgical treatment option, so I'm wondering if these two vets aren't' talking about two different diseases. The first vet is gone and didn't mention it in her file, so I can't ask her.

Does anyone know any other diseases that might fit the description? What other disease might she have been talking about?
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post #2 of 21 (permalink) Old 04-06-2009, 04:52 PM
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Re: Degenerative Spinal Disease?

dm doesn't have pain. spondylosis can. have you done xrays?

Angela

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post #3 of 21 (permalink) Old 04-06-2009, 05:02 PM
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Re: Degenerative Spinal Disease?

The first vet was talking about degenerative myelopathy (DM).

Molly
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post #4 of 21 (permalink) Old 04-06-2009, 05:24 PM
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Re: Degenerative Spinal Disease?

Quote:
Originally Posted By: socalgsdThe first vet was talking about degenerative myelopathy (DM).
Sounds like DM to me too. My Kodi had DM. The first symptom is usually "knuckling over" (dragging the top of a hind foot) on the ground. DM does appear to be painless and can suddenly progress rapidly. I hope that your dog's illness is something that can be successfully treated.

Kodi was diagnosed at 9 and lived to be 12. She was in a wheeled cart for a while.

Julie

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post #5 of 21 (permalink) Old 04-06-2009, 05:45 PM
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Re: Degenerative Spinal Disease?

There are several problems GSDs can have with similar symptoms - all resulting in weak rears/knuckling under/etc. Some dogs are more stoic than others when it comes to pain. Tasha had DM (no apparent pain). Yukon had polymyositis (no apparent pain). JR & his daughter, Honey, had CES (one symptom with both dogs was apparent pain - JR more so than Honey). Ringer had degenerative disc disease in his neck and back (one of the symptoms was pain). When he was 3, Ringer also had lupus mediated polyarthritis which was treated successfully and he remained in remission for the rest of his life (I can't recall any apparent signs of pain).

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post #6 of 21 (permalink) Old 04-06-2009, 07:07 PM Thread Starter
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Re: Degenerative Spinal Disease?

You are right. I just read up on it to make sure, and I'm certain that's what that first vet had told me.

I am so relieved! Thank you all so much. I was hysterical this morning when I thought I'd been denying my girl treatment all this time. I am soooo relieved! I wish she didn't have it, but at least I haven't been a negligent dog mom.

Thank you all for sharing you knowledge.
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post #7 of 21 (permalink) Old 04-06-2009, 07:21 PM
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Re: Degenerative Spinal Disease?

Quote:
Originally Posted By: socalgsdThe first vet was talking about degenerative myelopathy (DM).

Molly
Even progression of DM can sometimes be slowed with Clemmons' protocol.


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post #8 of 21 (permalink) Old 04-06-2009, 07:49 PM
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Re: Degenerative Spinal Disease?

I lost two dogs in a row to DM, and followed Dr C's regimen faithfully. It didn't appear to help, but I'm glad that others have seen some positive effects. The most beneficial thing that I did for my own dogs was exercise uphill for strength, and laterally across hills for balance.

DM has recently been shown to be genetically almost identical to ALS in humans.

Molly
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post #9 of 21 (permalink) Old 04-06-2009, 08:51 PM
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Re: Degenerative Spinal Disease?

i have a 13 year old with Spondylosis, and the symptoms you describe are exactly like my guys. there usually isn't any pain when things start fusing together, and the nerves get compressed.

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post #10 of 21 (permalink) Old 04-06-2009, 11:10 PM
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Re: Degenerative Spinal Disease?

The original poster doesn't mention whether the dog's spine was x-rayed. As you know, spondylosis would be easy to diagnose with x-rays. Nothing would show up for DM though.

Molly
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