Questions about DM - German Shepherd Dog Forums
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post #1 of 3 (permalink) Old 05-03-2019, 02:46 AM Thread Starter
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Questions about DM

Hey all! So when I was younger we had a GSD named Brutus. He was a great dog but he had a lot of difficulty walking as he got older. My dad told me it was hip dysplasia and I didn't know any different but now that I'm older and know more I'm wondering if he had DM, or maybe something similar? I don't know if there is hence why I'm asking a bit about it. I watched a couple videos of dogs with DM and one was quite a bit similar to how he walked.

I'd say he had slow progression if it was DM, he was mobile but he did have a really hard time walking but it never got as bad as some of the videos, he did end up dying of bloat so it's possible he never got that far. His hips would kind of sway back and forth and he had weakness in his hind end for sure. He did a bit better in the winter when it snowed as the snow seemed to kind of support him and give him some stability. Obviously it's hard to say without a video or anything but I was curious on others thoughts.

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post #2 of 3 (permalink) Old 05-03-2019, 12:43 PM
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Our previous shepherd had DM. We first noticed it when he was about 8 and his back end started stumbling when being walked. In retrospect, I realized that he hadn't been moving/wagging his tail for at least 6 months, so it had probably been building for at least that long. He lived to 10 (1999- 2010). He was able to stand and take a few steps without falling on his own up until the end, but he needed me to support his rear end with a hip sling going up stairs and on walks (we were told keeping him active was important to slowing the progression) as over time it got to the point where he would stumble and sit every few steps without the support. I don't know if 2.5 years counts as a "slow" progression and I don't know if the various medicines the Univ of Florida (Gainsville) researchers suggested might help (and provided by mail by a Florida pharmacy) actually helped or not. We were told it would likely progress to his lungs and he would would have to put him down then or he would drown. Mercifully (for me anyways), one night, after his evening walk and dog biscuit treat, he simply keeled over and died because his heart gave out. His last gift to us was sparing us the decision to have to put him down.

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post #3 of 3 (permalink) Old 05-03-2019, 01:56 PM
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The absolute dead giveaways for DM are the twisting of the back legs, the wasting of the muscle and the fact that it is pain free. There are other conditions that closely resemble DM but once you are familiar with the look of it, it becomes really obvious. Sabs lasted a couple of years after the onset of symptoms and ultimately I believe, in my calmer moods, it was the cancer that did her in. The average expectancy with DM at that time was stated as 8 months from onset of symptoms. Understand though that most owners call it long before immobility and paralysis. A good many that I know of euthanized within a few months of symptoms appearing with or without progression for various reasons so the stats are pretty skewed.
I do think that now that I know what I am looking at DM seems really common among BYB and mill dogs. I also think that I am probably over sensitive to it. These dogs are unlikely to get tested or come from tested stock. I keep pushing owners to submit DNA and do both the swab and later the necropsy but it's tough to explain to the average owner why the big picture is so vital.
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