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Hi friends, I am new to this group and seem to be walking a path closer and closer to DM with my cherished 7-year-old male. He and I have trained in personal protection and he is more of a partner to me than I can express. He began in November with RH weakness and began knuckling same foot in Dec. Went from vet to Ortho to Neuro. MRI clear, DNA test came back as affected. He has some slight HD, and came back positive for Ehrlichiosis (currently treating with Doxy, although his bloodwork was normal other than the raised titer) He is still quite ambulatory but want to get a jump on this as soon as I can. Any help on this appreciated. Will consider all options for him. I love him so much. Thank you in advance. ~ Kris
 

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The DM genetic test is not diagnostic. All your result means is that you cannot rule out DM as one of the diagnostic possibilities.

Ehlichiosis CAN cause neurological effects. So I would treat that for the full course before making any decisions.

Have you done a set of spinal xrays? Some DM-type symptoms can be caused by spinal problems, which are RAMPANT in this breed -- and underdiagnosed, IMHO. That would be the first thing I would ask the Neuro to rule out (some of them are fixable, with surgery, so knowing if there's a spinal injury or latent deformity is REALLY important).

If you rule out and treat everything else, and all that's left is DM as a possibility, then I would ask the vet neuro to inquire into stem cell treatment, if this were my dog -- it's thousands of dollars, but some pet insurance policies likely will cover it (others may not as it's still likely classified as "experimental").

It may also be worth doing a deep dive into the work of Dr. Clemmons -- one of the pioneer researchers of DM, who is now retired. Your neuro should be familiar with him or his work--I think he was a researcher at University of Florida. He suggested years ago that diet can play a role in management. Degenerative Myelopathy of German Shepherds
 

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Let me be crystal clear here.
Diet CAN slow progression, it does not reverse it and will not stop it. The rate of progression varies widely from dog to dog and other factors come into play(climate, environment, genetics). Note can not will.
Stem cell treatment has shown promise with some dogs, it is still a work in progress. It is also hugely expensive and SOME dogs that initially appeared to show improvement declined rapidly following a period of improvement. Last I checked it appears that it may work if treatment is continual and again SOME dogs, not all.
DM naturally allows for plateaus in progression and rarely some dogs even seem to improve. It does not actually stop, it cannot be reversed.
We had a member of this forum who's dog showed initial vast improvement from stem cell treatment. They are not around anymore and stopped responding to inquiries in fairly short order.

That said dogs that are at risk for DM may never show symptoms, the disease is late onset and for some dogs that means they will enjoy a full life span with no issues.
As Magwart mentioned it's a diagnosis based on ruling out every other cause because the symptoms mimic other issues or are mimicked by them. Some of the things that cause symptoms are easily treated and dealt with. DM is terminal. I would also ask for xrays of the whole spine, make sure there is no injury there. Several people have found disc injury or deterioration in the neck can cause the foot dragging and knuckling.
Swimming, walking, massage and acupuncture all helped my girl. She battled DM for two years from the initial appearance of symptoms and was still fairly mobile when I opted to euthanize. And do study dietary needs, it is an important tool in the battle.
 

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I agree with Magwarts: I have had two GSDs so far that lost function in their hind legs due to spinal issues. With the one, it was very obvious on an x-ray, as she had fusion of the verebrae (ankylosing spondylitis). With the other, it was likely lumbar stenosis, but he wouldn't co-operate with lying on his back for an x-ray, and due to his advanced age, I didn't want to sedate him.

So, don't assume DM until all other things have been ruled out. It MAY be treatable!
 

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Just posting this in case you are interested . I discovered some info. on a clinical trial for DM taking place at Cummings Veterinary Medical Center, at Tufts University

https://trials.vet.tufts.edu/clinical-trials/?fwp_species=dog
Clinical Trials Office
Cummings Veterinary Medical Center
55 Willard St.
N. Grafton, MA 01536
508-887-4441
508-887-4880 (fax)

One of my past GSD' died from DM, approx. 11 years ago, so I'm curious about the latest regarding DM. You may not meet the criteria for the study or even be interested, but I'm posting it just in case. If you cruise around the website above, you will find questionnaires geared toward you and then your vet. I believe I read that some participants might only have to make one visit. I'm sure there would be a lot to sort out for anyone who is interested.
 

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I'm pretty much in @Sabis mom camp......I think we most likely had similar experiences with our DM GSDs.......I tried everything and then some more.....I'll never know if my efforts made a

difference....but....like you...I considered everything and employed most all........it was the least I could do for my bud.



In hindsight....one vet tech's advice.....she had a GSD that had DM a few years before me.....she told me the harsh reality and to go enjoy every minute with my dog......it was sobering and not what I wanted to hear.....go enjoy all the physical fun you can with your pooch...ensure that you won't have any woulda coulda or shouldas down the road.

Sorry to be such a downer...


I'll hope that it is not DM.... and if it is....that they have made advancements in dealing with it over the years.

SuperG
 
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