German Shepherd Dog Forums

German Shepherd Dog Forums (
-   Archive 5: Health & Wellness (
-   -   DM (

Sadie's Mom 12-01-2008 11:21 AM

We're pretty convinced Sadie has DM. It's been over 5 months since the 1st sign of symptoms, which was the very subtle limp in the rear. That progressed to some occassional toe dragging on her left side, to what we have now which is full time toe dragging, knuckling over a step or two sometimes (meaning actually walking on knuckles--this is not full time yet), routinely stopping/standing on knuckles for a moment or two before correcting.

She now has no control of her rear on on our laminate floor...we have purchased throw rugs and have placed one every 2 feet which helps her get around the house. She fell on the deck, scrambling and falling again and again the other morning due to some light snow dusting. I know it scared her, but she never yelped or cried or showed signs of being hurt by it...I thought for sure she hurt herself by the way she her legs splayed out. I had to carry her back inside after that because she wouldn't try to come back across the deck, but that's not something I can do routinely!

Now, she is afraid to try if it even looks wet, so for now she goes out in the front yard with us if it's raining or glazed over on the deck out back. I don't know how we will handle full on winter snow and ice since she's too heavy for me to carry! She is confined mostly to one level of our home. She falls down the steps routinely, so we've had to gate them off.

Through all this, she shows zero sign of pain and has remained her happy self. No yelping, no stiffness, no sensitivity to being poked or prodded or touched in any certain place. She eats well (you'd think she is starving all the time LOL)....she wants to play, she wants to wrestle with the cats. She wants to steal scraps from the 2 year old. She wants to go outside every 10 minutes as usual.

If not for how unpleasant it looks to watch her walk around, you wouldn't know anything was wrong with her at all. The vet had said after they tried anti-inflammatories that were no help, there wasn't really anything they could do for a degenerative nerve condition. I haven't taken her back to the vet since the end of July because of the symptoms being so subtle for awhile and the lack of pain, and how she continued to be her happy self, like nothing was wrong.

Since the symptoms have progressed further in the last couple weeks, I'm planning to go ahead and take her back in, although frankly, I dont want to put her through all kinds of tests just to be told there's nothing they can do. And, we can't afford the expensive treatment Dr. Clemmons recommends....which based on my reasearch is not widely accepted by most vets anyway. In fact, there seems to be lots of disagreement and inconclusiveness among vets regarding DM.

We also are not set up to transition her to a cart...our house and yard just aren't compatible with that type of situation, so when things get to that point, we will know it is time.

Sorry to be so lengthy! I guess my only real point to this post is to vent a bit. I'm sad that I'm watching a 7 year old dog slowly decline physically, but still seem like a puppy in many ways. This was the first forum I found when we brought Sadie home 7 years ago! So much has changed, but not her. She's still her same rotten, goofy self she was back then...just a lot more gray on her face now.

Thanks for listening

Amaruq 12-01-2008 11:37 AM

Re: DM
Have you done the flash test? There ARE other issues that can present the same symptoms that you are experiencing that would be treated different than if it were DM. The flash test is not 100% indicative but it can rule it out. If she doesnt have the genetic marker than it IS something else. But if she DOES have the genetic marker it "might" be DM. It is confusing but the test itself (including the blood draw) when I had my vet test Phoenix was about $100.00. MIght be worth it to run that test and then forumate a game plan afterwards.

In the mean time what about a sling/harness to help her navigate outside. It will mean more effort than just opening the door to let them out but it can also help her regain her confidence by being able to be mobile.

Baby Byron 12-01-2008 11:38 AM

Re: DM
Hey Kathleen,

Sorry to hear that. My Sidney looked like he had DM and we were convinced by a vet that we should just go ahead and put him down. Well, I did not want to believe that since every time I did the knucle test he would right away put his paw back on right. We too couldn't afford Dr C's so we went for a second opinion with the vet that takes care of all the GSDs from the Central Illinois GSD Rescue. She did the x-rays and quickly saw that he actually had spongylosis in 5 vertebrae in his lower back. That diagnose bought us 10 more months with him until Rymadil stopped working and we couldn't up the dose since his liver enzymes were on the top limit. But still he had 10 great months. He was 12. I hope Sadie doesn't have DM...
All our love for you and Sadie.

Lauri & The Gang 12-01-2008 11:38 AM

Re: DM

How about some dog boots? The ones with rubber soles might help her keep her footing.

I did a quick Google search and found this:

alportbury 12-01-2008 12:31 PM

Re: DM
Hey Kathleen,

I have just received the same news about my foster (now adopted!!0 dog Roger. I would be very happy to talk to you about this if you want. I am a neuroscientist with a background in MS (which they say is the human equivalent of DM). I have researched this condition a lot and would be very happy to share my thoughts if you want.

Most importantly, if I were you I would get him tested for the gene that is associated with DM. This is NOT the Flash test of Dr. Clemmons. I had that done on Roger and it was negative. The test I am talking of and trust was designed at the University of Missouri in collaboration with many other vet schools. You can read about it at:

As sad as a positive diagnosis is, it is at least better to know what you are dealing with. As many others have already noted, the symptoms of DM can be confused with symptoms of many other conditions (like spondylosis, intervetebral disease etc..).


Sadie's Mom 12-01-2008 12:32 PM

Re: DM
We haven't done the flash test. I read on the DM forum that 1 in 4 dogs test negative but do have DM. That seems pretty high to me. I'm going to ask the vet about it, though, and see if she has any experience with it.

I'm curious about the other issues you mention that present the same symptoms. I'd be interested in them. I've done a lot of reading and the things I have found don't seem to quite fit.

Kayos and Havoc 12-01-2008 12:33 PM

Re: DM
Oh gosh..... no advice here just hoping it is not DM.

DnP 12-01-2008 12:37 PM

Re: DM
I am so sorry to hear about Sadie.

I would encourage you to get the flash test done. If this is NOT DM, it will be well worth the price to eliminate it.

At the time Dakota was finally diagnosed with DM, we were already on a regimine of drugs for him. He had been battling auto-immune issues prior to the diagnosis so he was on Immuran, prednisone (every other day), Deramax (every other day) and supplements. I had started acupuncture and saw a HUGE difference in him. However, it can be quite pricey depending on where you go. BUT, to me it was well worth the cost. It doesn't stop the progression, but it definitely slowed it up.

If Sadie is having problems walking/getting up and down stairs, I highly recommend the Bottoms Up Leash. I was given one by my dog walker and it was a godsend! You can take a look at it here:

You can find it in many catalogs and even at Cabelas. Dakota wasn't fond of it at first, but it definitely helped. My BF built ramps for the stairs going into my house (there were 3) and for his house. He tacked indoor/outdoor carpet on them and Dakota would zoom up them b/c he could get a better grip. I also purchased booties for the winter with grip on the bottom to help on the slippery surfaces.

The thing about DM, the dogs are NOT in pain. They just get very frustrated when they can't get around. BUT, they do adapt so easily.

As it advances, Sadie will lose control of her bowels. Dakota would poop on the floor while laying down and never know it. That's what really upset him the most. (Me, I just went out and bought a steamer cleaner and never made a big deal of it when it happened)

Good luck with Sadie...if you ever need to talk, feel free to PM me. I know I'm not the only one who has had/has a dog with DM. I wish I had found this forum when I was dealing with it.

Sadie's Mom 12-01-2008 12:46 PM

Re: DM
Thanks for the link, Andrea. I thought I read that Dr. Clemmons had claimed GSD's got a different kind of DM, which is why a different test was required. I see that this one is done through OFA and it looks like I can do the swab myself, so I'll give this test a shot first and see what comes back.

I'd welcome your thoughts. I have done some reading on spondylosis and other conditions, but they don't seem to quite fit. I read that spondylosis rarely shows clinical signs of lameness. And, most other things seem to respond to Rimadyl and Sadie did not. I also can't seem to find anything else that specifically lists the knuckling over. When I do searches on that particular thing, only DM comes up over and over.

I also found it interesting that a lot of the GSD owners on the DM forum who have listed pedigrees seemed to share Stuttgart's Sundance Kid in their lineage as does Sadie. Of course, that could be just because he was used a lot...I dunno. Just an interesting thing I noted.

alportbury 12-01-2008 01:08 PM

Re: DM
As I understand it, Dr. Clemmon's genetic test was based on the GSD gene that he believes is associated with DM. Therefore, it should be fool proof (so to speak) for GSDs, but a little iffy for other breeds that also get DM (like Corgis). The thing is, Dr. Clemmons has not published the research that led to this test and, according to the neurologist I went to for Roger, he refuses to debate his research and findings with other neuro-vets. The thing though that really worried me was that a group in Texas tried to recapitulate Dr. Clemmon's results and couldn't - getting positive results for dogs that were under a year (which is possible of course as this test only tells you that a dog *could* develop DM) and negative results for dogs that had died from symptoms of DM and had positive signs of it on autopsy.

Please don't think that I am ragging on Dr. C - I think he is an incredible scientist and neurologist and has done an awful lot for dogs and their owners. My own vet trained under Dr. C and fully admits that he is eccentric, but also says he is brilliant.

I had Roger X-rayed extensively at the vet school and he has severe spondylosis and hip degeneration - which confused the diagnosis for us. Since DM is essentially pain free, it was confusing for the vets as Roger showed signs of lumbar pain (pressing down on the vertebrae) as well as sacral pain (lifting of the tail). The vet didn't feel like the spondylitis was severe enough to cause the paralysis we were seeing in Roger but without doing an MRI (WAY too expensive for me or the rescue) we couldn't be 100% sure. Besides, everything else was classic DM (knuckling, crossing over of the back legs, hind limb wasting, no effect of prednisone or Rimadyl).

So, the long and the short of our "action plan" with Roger is a course of pain meds (Tramadol and Rimadyl) to ease the pain in the joints whcih will then alloow him to exercise - the one and only true hope of stalling the progression of this disease. We are going to a vet rehab place twice a week for aqua therapy and the vet has taught us massage, range of motion exercise and ways to build obstacle courses for Roger to keep him as nimble as possible. Unfortunately, before he came to the rescue he was found as a stray in a field, emaciated and close to death, so his symptoms have been allowed to progress rapidly. We now have to see if we can slow things down. Being that Sadie is with you and you are so connected with her, I hope and pray that you can be more successful than I am in helping her stay steady for some time to come.

Please feel free to PM if you want to chat. Sorry for going on - but maybe this discussion will help others in the same boat as us.

Andrea and Roger

All times are GMT -4. The time now is 03:10 PM.

Powered by vBulletin® Copyright ©2000 - 2019, Jelsoft Enterprises Ltd.
vBulletin Security provided by vBSecurity v2.2.2 (Pro) - vBulletin Mods & Addons Copyright © 2019 DragonByte Technologies Ltd.
User Alert System provided by Advanced User Tagging (Pro) - vBulletin Mods & Addons Copyright © 2019 DragonByte Technologies Ltd.

For the best viewing experience please update your browser to Google Chrome