DM in 9 year old lady
My 9 year old companion, Roxie, has been diagnosed with early on-set DM.
About 6 months ago I noticed hearing her back toenail scrape the ground every once in awhile, and about 2 months ago she started losing her balance, occasionally tripping over nothing. I live in the mountains and as soon as Spring arrived I took Roxie on brief hikes (she loves to romp around in the wilderness). I was a little concerned when she started severely limping for at least two days after very short and easy hikes (Last summer she was able to handle way longer hikes with no problems). I called her vet and he recommended a regular does of glucosamine; we both assumed the limping to be a normal part of an aging Shepherd. However, about a week ago I grew majorly concerned when Roxie began hesitating to climb our stairs to the bedroom at night. She stood at the bottom, with one paw on the bottom step and whined. Nearly every night since then, I have had to use my arms or a towel as an acting sling to get her settled upstairs at night. I immediately scheduled an appointment for her to see the vet after doing research and coming across DM.
The toenail dragging and being slightly off-balance--symptoms I thought nothing of at the time--seemed to point directly to the disease. Sure enough, yesterday my vet confirmed through an exam and xrays that it looks like a case of DM. The good news is that she has some neurological awareness; when he did the flipping over of her foot test she successfully flipped it back over in response. Her xrays showed that she has severe dysplasia in one of her hips, and some abnormalities in her spine. She seems to have lost a considerable amount of energy as of the past few months, and struggles to stand up after laying down. She is otherwise happy and eating (almost) normally.
It breaks my heart to see her struggle, and it's difficult to think that this is only the beginning. I am hoping the progression of her illness will be slow since her symptoms, up until the stairs issue, had months between their appearance.
Does anyone know of any other cases where the disease was slow to set in? It is killing me to not have any idea of how long she has before losing functions. Any recommendations for activities that help? She loves to swim and I have been searching for the perfect swimming spot, but it's difficult because she is dog aggressive--finding secluded swimming holes that aren't occupied and don't require a difficult hike first are hard to come by in a touristy mountain town.
Thanks for reading.