How to tell if your dog has DM? - German Shepherd Dog Forums
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post #1 of 15 (permalink) Old 11-07-2014, 08:47 PM Thread Starter
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How to tell if your dog has DM?

I've been reading up on DM some and have been noticing some troubling signs in my dog Shasta. She has had what I think is mild HD/arthritis for 3-4 years now but I'm starting to think she may have DM also. She has been weak in the back end for awhile, sometimes you can hear her back nails dragging but she still seems to have good feeling in her back end/feet. About a year ago she was having issues where if she strained to go to the bathroom for awhile she would stay in a squatting position most of the day then it would go away the next day. I started giving her canned pumpkin about 7 months ago and the straining/squatting went away. Now, for the first time since then she was squatting again after a short walk tonight but it seems to be getting better already. If it's DM doesn't it just get worse? Could it just be that she's weak or may have strained herself? For those of you with dogs that suffer from DM what were some of the first things you noticed when your dog started having issues? Thanks for any help/advice!
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post #2 of 15 (permalink) Old 11-07-2014, 10:27 PM
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The first sign I noticed was dragging of the back feet. At first it was just occasionally and then gradually got worse. Dead giveaway is that his two middle nails on his back feet are very very short. Next I noticed that his back feet would track close together and sometimes cross over. He doesn't know where his back feet are and they cross over and occasionally even step one each other. He has had a couple of episodes where he "walks" with his back legs almost in a sitting position. Those are random and I can't seem to pin them to any specific cause. I don't know if that's what you mean by the squatting/straining position. After a little bit of rest he seems to get his legs back and walks okay again.

I hope that helps, and I hope your girl does not have DM.


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post #3 of 15 (permalink) Old 11-07-2014, 10:58 PM
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With my girl Libby it seemed to just start over night,one day I came home from work She was dragging Her back legs.
I thought She might of jumped off the bed and did an injury,but the Vet said it looked like it was DM.
She had the classic back foot reflex in that it was not coming back and they would crossover each other.
After a couple of weeks She did improve and was able to walk around.
I had to carry Her up and down the stairs for a good month,but in time with my help She was able to do the short amount of stairs that we have in the house.
Under the Vet's advice I would lift Her into the back of the Car (hatchback)when we went for walks and lift Her out when we got home.
She would have flashes of Her former self,but Her jumping days were over.
Over the next year She slowly became less active and in the last couple of months didn't want go for walks.
In Her last month She had a lot of trouble with Her back legs again and then could not stand up for very long.
When She stopped eating and would just lay there giving me the look I knew it was time.
She was one month shy of Her 13 Birthday,there isn't a Day that goes by that I don't miss Her.
I'm sure someone here will tell you about some of the treatments like Stem Cell that you can try.
Talk it over with your Vet and see what your options are.
My thoughts are with you in this difficult time.

Last edited by Romany; 11-07-2014 at 11:01 PM.
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post #4 of 15 (permalink) Old 11-08-2014, 04:24 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Romany View Post
With my girl Libby it seemed to just start over night,one day I came home from work She was dragging Her back legs.
I thought She might of jumped off the bed and did an injury,but the Vet said it looked like it was DM.
She had the classic back foot reflex in that it was not coming back and they would crossover each other.
After a couple of weeks She did improve and was able to walk around.
I had to carry Her up and down the stairs for a good month,but in time with my help She was able to do the short amount of stairs that we have in the house.
Under the Vet's advice I would lift Her into the back of the Car (hatchback)when we went for walks and lift Her out when we got home.
She would have flashes of Her former self,but Her jumping days were over.
Over the next year She slowly became less active and in the last couple of months didn't want go for walks.
In Her last month She had a lot of trouble with Her back legs again and then could not stand up for very long.
When She stopped eating and would just lay there giving me the look I knew it was time.
She was one month shy of Her 13 Birthday,there isn't a Day that goes by that I don't miss Her.
I'm sure someone here will tell you about some of the treatments like Stem Cell that you can try.
Talk it over with your Vet and see what your options are.
My thoughts are with you in this difficult time.
That almost perfectly describes how things went with Sabi, except that she never stopped eating, and she was a few months shy of 13. Not a day passes that I don't miss her desperately.

DM is a diagnosis of elimination. The foot placement test is usually the first step. Then you get to start ruling out other things. And there are lots of other things. Don't rush to DM. Other things are treatable, fixable, curable.
I will keep you in my thoughts.
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post #5 of 15 (permalink) Old 11-08-2014, 09:07 AM Thread Starter
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Thank you all so much for your replies. Shasta is so old that her senior problems seem like they have been going on for 4-5 years now but we are extremely lucky because they are pretty mild. It really does sound like she has DM though, her back feet cross sometimes, looses her balance side to side often, inner nails on rear feet are worn very short. She still seems to be very happy though, she tries to play all the time but because of her back end problems she usually ends up falling over herself, it's heartbreaking to watch but she still has fun.
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post #6 of 15 (permalink) Old 11-08-2014, 10:45 AM
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Even though I had no idea what DM was at the time....the first indication was the rear toe nails just slightly dragging....noticeable more by the sound it made on the carpeting. Of course, it progressed until the rear nails were worn down and a bit of blood appeared from the abrading.....and of course it got worse from there.

Maybe Shasta is exhibiting some symptoms of DM but it sounds like there might be other things going on as well....mostly just getting older.

I'm ever so glad that you describe Shasta as "so old"..not that it makes things easier but the natural progression of life seems more intact in your situation.

Yes, it breaks your heart to see such a noble creature lose it's physical prowess but you seem to be wise enough about the situation.....your words " but she still has fun." is what counts.


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post #7 of 15 (permalink) Old 11-08-2014, 05:41 PM
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I'd take her to the vet for an exam and x-rays ... some similar problems can be diagnosed ... some can't ... some problems can be helped with medications, some can't.

Unfortunately I know that Cauda Equina has similar symptoms to DM ... foot dragging, etc EXCEPT it can be diagnosed via x-ray, and pain is associated with this problem and medications are available to help control the pain.

DM is a disease of diagnosing by EXCLUDING all other problems ... unless it's changed, DM can only be definitely diagnosed by a necropsy (and of course by then it's too late to do anything about it).

This is one of my favorite DM websites: Degenerative Myelopathy Support Group - Jack Flash's Homepage

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post #8 of 15 (permalink) Old 11-08-2014, 08:43 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by astrovan2487 View Post
Thank you all so much for your replies. Shasta is so old that her senior problems seem like they have been going on for 4-5 years now but we are extremely lucky because they are pretty mild. It really does sound like she has DM though, her back feet cross sometimes, looses her balance side to side often, inner nails on rear feet are worn very short. She still seems to be very happy though, she tries to play all the time but because of her back end problems she usually ends up falling over herself, it's heartbreaking to watch but she still has fun.
I described DM as losing my dog one piece at a time. Perhaps because there is no pain, the dogs seem to maintain their personalities. Many DM dogs do well with carts and slings to help keep them mobile, but some don't. Some owners hang on to the end, some don't. IF DM is the diagnosis you will need to assess what works for you and her. My vet cautioned that it may come down to how much I could stand, because watching the progression is heartbreaking.
Jack Flashes website is awesome, and a wealth of information. I personally would never have let it go that long, but to each their own.
I pray that it isn't DM, my hope for you is that this is something treatable.
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post #9 of 15 (permalink) Old 11-08-2014, 09:43 PM Thread Starter
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I tried to do the foot reflex test (think I'm doing it right) where you curl their toes underneath of them and see how long it takes them to correct it and she immediately corrects her toes. Good sign maybe? I've asked the vet about her weak rear legs and she said it's mostly just her getting old, that she could do testing and x-rays but that at her age there is not all that much we could do. I really hope it isn't DM, Shasta is my first and only dog and we have been through a lot together I don't know if I could bear to watch her go that way.
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post #10 of 15 (permalink) Old 11-08-2014, 10:34 PM
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Sabis,

Your words and attitude ring so true to my experience and hopes for others.


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