Degenerative Myelopathy


MyGermanShepherd Health ManualDegenerative Myelopathy (Degeneration of the Spinal Cord, DM) is an inherited defect where the immune system attacks the dog's central nervous system. This attack leads to a loss of insulation around the nerve fibers (myelin) and of nerve fibers (axons). Once the nerves in the spinal cord are destroyed, the dog can no longer walk because, without nerve connections, muscles cannot work. The control pathways that make muscles work are located all throughout the spinal cord.

DM is an insidious defect, the symptoms of which rarely show up before the age of 5, and possibly as late as age 14 years. The early stages of DM start with an almost imperceptible weakness in the hindquarters (also see 13, Hind Leg Weakness). In the last stage, the dog can no longer walk, nor hold balance when standing or squatting to defecate.

However, DM itself is not painful. There is zero pain because the nerve cells have died. The dog no longer feels the legs. A very stressful thought and physical experience, but without pain.

Who Gets Degenerative Myelopathy

German Shepherds are the breed that is most susceptible to Degenerative Myelopathy: Between 1 to 3% of German Shepherds worldwide are affected. However, in the USA alone, each year between 14,000 to 42,000 GSDs are diagnosed with DM - which effectively means that in the USA the proportion of affected GSDs is much higher. Simplified calculation: average 28,000 per year * average 12 years lifespan / 3.5 mio GSDs = 9.6%!

Since DM is hereditary, this means that GSD breeders have not yet taken enough care to avoid breeding affected parents. This reinforces the importance of finding the best German Shepherd breeders when you select your next GSD.

However, as with most inherited defects, both the outbreak of DM and its progression are triggered by dietary and environmental intoxication. This means that you can indeed delay the outbreak of DM and slow down or even stop progression if you provide the right living environment for your dog.

Warning Signs

Recently, the cause of DM, a homozygous SOD1 A genetic abnormality has been identified. It is recessive which means both parents, the dam and the sire, must carry the defective gene for the puppies to develop DM later in their lives.

A simple saliva-based genetic test was developed which can help determine the risk that a certain dog may suffer DM later in life. The test costs only 65 USD.

This test is of course more relevant to those GSD breeders who aim to try their best to use breeding dogs without hereditary defects, however you too may wish to know whether your dog carries the defective A/A gene combination. In that case note that even a dog that carries the defective gene combination will not necessarily develop the symptoms of DM before the dog dies, because this depends on environmental triggers and on how early the dog dies.

During early stage DM, occasionally you can hear the sound of your dog's hind leg toe nails scraping over the pavement during walking. Your dog will begin to show some difficulty getting up. If the dog is standing, (s)he may have difficulty balancing, yet the dog can recover on his own. If you turn your dog's toes under, (s)he may still be able to right the foot pad-down, but response time may be lengthened.

As DM progresses, difficulty getting up and rear feet nail scraping will increase. The rear legs will cross under your dog's body since (s)he is losing sensation in the hindquarters: The dog does not know where (s)he has placed the feet. Faulty perception of foot placement leads to tripping and stumbling.

When your dog is in a standing position, if you move the dog from side to side using your hands, the dog will lose balance and topple over. Often, you will notice exaggerated movements, such as high stepping when going up a curb. If you now turn your dog's toes under, your dog will no longer place the foot in the proper pad-down position once (s)he can no longer feel the feet.

Soon, the tail will rarely become active and wag, however because of the length of the German Shepherd tail it may become tangled with the hind legs.

Ultimately, you will need to help a DM-suffering dog to walk at all. Up until the terminal phase, DM can take several years but ultimately the sense of feeling is completely lost, and the dog then loses control over bowel and bladder too.

Preventing Degenerative Myelopathy

Although there is still no cure for DM or medication that would replace lost myelin and repair damaged axons, recent research has brought quite dramatic changes to the life expectancy and quality of life of dogs with DM. All these improvements are centered around the goal to provide the dog with a living environment that will at least delay, and possibly prevent, the outbreak or progression of DM.

Treating Degenerative Myelopathy

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Although there is still no cure for DM or medication that would replace lost myelin and repair damaged axons, recent research has brought quite dramatic improvements to the life expectancy and quality of life of dogs with DM. All these improvements are centered around the goal to provide the dog with a living environment that will delay the outbreak and/or progression of DM, so that the dog dies naturally or because of some other sickness.

Treatment of a dog with the defective gene combination should ideally start before the first symptoms become visible - that's why I said above that you too may want to know whether your non-breeding dog carries the defective gene combination. In this case, in fact we are talking about avoidance measures - which may be successful to differing degrees.

Today's recommended treatment of DM combines four components:

  • Exercise
  • Diet
  • Medication
  • Other supportive measures


The more varied the exercise is that you provide to your dog, the more you stimulate the various brain functions, nerve fibres and muscles throughout the entire body. Research shows that exercise and diet have the biggest impact when we try to delay the outbreak of DM. The exercise program should comprise weekly swimming and extensive walks but should give your dog a resting day between days of heavy workout to allow strained muscles and tendons to heal and to increase the buildup of muscle strength.

In case you didn't provide your dog with much exercise in the past, you should slowly increase the schedule of alternative day exercise over the period of a month until your dog is fit. Also, if your dog is already affected by DM, you may need to help your dog to get out of the water when (s)he can no longer negotiate the bank on her own.

Important is varied exercise. Should your dog then at some point suffer DM, (s)he is optimally prepared to substitute various body functions with others that are not yet affected.


We now know that the right diet has a major impact on the outbreak and progression of DM. To give a dog the right diet is a key part of avoiding cell intoxication - which triggers DM, and likely many other inherited defects too.

This is another reason why we are so strictly against industrial dog "food", and why we stress so much the importance of healthy dog meals, regular meal times, and a consistent feeding routine on MYGERMANSHEPHERD.ORG. In particular German Shepherds with their sensitive digestion need the right diet in order to be healthy and happy. Besides, only a healthy and happy dog can behave in a way that makes you happy too.

We cannot go into details here what the right diet for dogs is, but the MYGERMANSHEPHERD PERIODICAL regularly features this topic too.


Recently, two medications have been identified that seem to prevent progression or even result in remission of DM in up to 80% of affected dogs: These medications are aminocaproic acid (EACA) and n-acetylcysteine (NAC). For both substances exist cheap generic products, and they can also be compounded in a local pharmacy.

Both substances should be given orally - diluted with chicken broth or another compatible substitute. However, note that side effects can be Gastroenteritis, Vomiting, and increased bleeding time.

Other supportive measures

Since DM is an inherited defect that causes the immune system to attack the nervous system, you must - whenever sensible in your region - avoid vaccinations, heartworm medication, and flea and tick medication, all of which increase immune responsiveness.

Stress reduction: For example, even minor invasive surgical procedures showed a marked increase in the progression of DM. Dental work can be most problematic for your dog. Aim to avoid all that causes stress.

Physical aids: If your dog is already severely affected by DM such that the dog can no longer use the hind legs properly, then the Lift Rear Harness can help your dog to walk for as long as (s)he shows walking motion - if you feel strong enough for this. The Lift Rear Harness probably is more suitable than the Support Sling:

  • You keep the walking motion alive/active - this trains the dog's leg muscles and gives psychological support ("hey, I can still walk")
  • You have less weight to carry!

However, if you can't get the progression of DM under control (see above how) then at a later stage there may be no way around getting the fully adjustable dog walkin wheels when the dog's hind legs show no more walking motion because the nerve fibers are destroyed.

Sorry that this topic doesn't end on a happier note, but DM in dogs really isn't a happy topic at all. That's why it is so important that GSD owners - and more so GSD breeders(!) - take all preventative action they can (see above), and otherwise treat Degenerative Myelopathy as early as possible. Thank you all.




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    I read as most people do quickly and did not fully unerstand the aminocaproic acid (EACA) as it appeared to be impossible to purchase and my vet told me it was only available in USA not here and only if the vetinary council granted a licence. Tim was right and I should have actioned it earlier as Boots do supply it under a prescription from their main office under Boots Contract Manufacturing. I have some on order so please take heed of the information given and the wealth of knowledge in Tims work.

    Les Bradley


    Our dear pet, Millie was diagnosed early this year with DM. She had been slowly losing control of her rear legs, ie dragging nails, trouble standing up, losing control of her bowels, (not bladder yet), etc for the past couple yrs. Though it's comforting to know she's not in pain, it is progressing. She's now 14 yrs, mostly deaf with cataracts and our vet. told us to enjoy her over the summer & fall but that come winter, she won't be able to navigate through snow & ice. It's already difficult for us to get her outside to do her she mostly wears a diaper which we change for her. Having said this, she's such a trooper and so strong in her front quarters that she insists on dragging her back legs around the house to sit close to us and/or to eat or drink from her bowls. Her appetite is still excellent & she looks forward to meal-time, though she only seems to have a big drink once or twice a day now. My husband (who's had her her whole life) and I (only 5 1/2 yrs) know the big decision is imminent but it's soo difficult because she's still very loving and responsive to us and really tries hard to be as normal as possible...tho she does sleep several hours a day. We pray she'll simply pass in her sleep but honestly she still seems fairly strong and not wanting to give up yet. I know her quality of life has diminished and we're in our late fifties, so it's getting to be a challenge for us to assist her without risking a fall or injury ourselves. We're looking for a significant sign from her that she's ready to say goodbye...we were going to make "the" appointment this week, but just couldn't...she's still sharing her love, provides happy licks on us, loves her dinner & still looks fwd to my husband coming home from work ea. night. She's been my best friend these past 5 1/2 yrs and love her soo much, but this is the hardest decision I've had to make (my hubby won't make it & is leaving it to me to make the call & take her to the's too traumatic for him :(
    Thanks for listening everyone....guess we'll take it from here & see how she is next week & if winter comes soon, that may facilitate "the" decision. Bless our Millie, the most beautiful & loving german shepherd in the world!


      Thanks for sharing Laurie. You are going to take the right decision, I know.


        I READ your letter about your shepherd and know how you feel,as my shepherd has been afflicked with the same problem.I don"t know what to do,and it is breaking my heart. I know I will have to face the reality in the near future,but all I have is hope.Sam is my best friend,and I feel so helpless,any advice you can give would be great.


        Letter? Not sure if you mean our member Les? Their dog meanwhile sadly deceased. But they were the best caretakers through to the end.

        I would do exactly like I wrote on this page above Larry.


    I am on my fourth German Shepherd. My first died at age 5 of bone cancer. My second, at age 9 of gastric torsion, and my third, at age 14 from degenerative myelopathy. Our situation was so much like Lauries, its remarkable. Our dog was so healty otherwise, it was all the more tragic. She got to the point where she couldnt really walk at all, and kept falling down, and yet she still tried. It was heartbreaking to see, and yet she was fine as long as she could just be with us. We waited, and our vet said she will let us know when it was time, and she did. It was a sorrowful day for us, she was the best dog ever; so loyal and true to the end. We know, though, that we did the best we could for her. So to Larry, I say, do the best you can and if you know your dog, you will know when he tells you its time.


    Our 12 year old sheperd Jax is starting to lose control of back left leg. So glad I read your stories! We kept saying we didn't think he was in any pain... glad to know this!

    Going to vet & see about the meds suggested above! We too love our Jax & breaks our hearts to think of life without him! We rescued him 10 years ago & has been the best dog ever! He rescued us!!? God bless all of you who are loving these sweet, beautiful GSD!


    Ok here I go.... this may be long but I need to be very detailed to understand my situation. I have a different kind of that everyone may not understand or like but I really need some support.

    Our German Shepard is Harley and he will be 10 in January. This past March is when Harley had his first fall and was diagnosed with DM.
    Now before I go on, I need to rewind back a few years to understand what I am going to ask.

    Harley was our first love, He stole our hearts. Years went by and we had a baby girl, they played great together. Then in 2012, we had triplets and they came super early...3 months early. They spent months in the hospital and when they came home, we were warned by the medical staff that it was very important to keep them away from all germs cause their immune system is very week.
    A few months later, Harley stopped eating and was peeing in the house. Took his to the vet and he was diagnosed with leptospirosis.
    Our world was turned upside down. Not only was I feeling bad for Harley but I was freaking out they my kids would get sick. Harley was quarantined for a few months in our sun room until all his blood work came back that he was good. His kidneys did get a hard hit from it and only function at about 25%. We also noticed spots on the floor and realized he would drip spots of pee.
    Because I was so fearful and traumatized by the lepto, I no longer wanted Harley to interact with our children. Plus because he was separated from the triplets shortly after they came home, I was afraid he may not "like them" being he was taken away from the family.
    So..Harley's quality of life from that point on changed and was closed off to the kitchen at all times. A gate separated him in the kitchen from the rest of the house and I no longer let the kids go into the kitchen in fear of them stepping on his urine.
    Naturally as a mother and being all that we had gone through with our 2 pound triplets and Harley's stuff, I became a germaphobe. I couldn't help but think Harley was still infected with the lepto. My kids quality of life too became compromised because I won't let them walk in the kitchen barefoot. They have to ask me for water or a snack. (go ahead, think I'm crazy but I have been through A LOT)
    Fast forward back to March of this year when Harley was diagnosed with DM. I knew we couldn't care for him the way he needed it with 4 kids and did I forget to mention the biggest and hardest part of all of the triplets, our son Luca was diagnosed with cerebral palsy. He cannot sit, stand, walk or talk. He is severe and I spend many many hours back and forth to therapy amongst everything else with my other 3. Life is very busy to say the least. We knew we couldn't afford to pay for any meds for Harley with all of our sons expenses and decided we would let the DM take its course. It was so great to know that he was not in any pain from this. date, Harley is still holding strong, he eats a lot and drinks a lot, I think because of his kidney failure, and is still very excited like a puppy when my husband gets home from work and loves chasing the kids outside. The last vet appointment we went to mentioned that Harley is also showing signs of some pain from possible arthritis. He walks still but slides around and falls a lot, nails bleed when he's outside and he will have poop accidents in the house. He also has a skin rash in his old age that makes him stinky and very itchy.

    Ok so here is my you know where I'm going with this......
    With our crazy life of 4 kids, a special needs child, not being able to afford meds for Harley and not being able to wait till Harley is on his deathbed......Is it ok, knowing that he is terminal to put him at peace before he gives me the signs he done? these past four years has been an emotional and physically draining roller coaster with having all that Harley went through with the lepto and me becoming a germaphobe - to my life being consumed with my 6 year old and three 4 years olds, one that takes up every minute of my day with his special needs.
    We can not wait till he needs a diaper or can't get up. The stage he is at now is very hard for us to manage but is it too soon?

    I find myself so stressed out over this and crying a lot. My family, who are dogs lovers, feel I am very overwhelmed and think it is time and our vet said she is ok with any point we decide. But I feel like he's not ready and am I? How much longer does he have? How much longer can I deal? Am I giving up on him? Am I being selfish? ugh....I am so sad and torn. I can't look at him with tearing up. My heart hurts.
    I guess I'm looking for some support though I may get some hatred as well.


      AnnaStella, Thanks for sharing your thoughtful story. I think you need to make the decision is right for you and it'll be ther ight one. Fear not, you did all you could do and your dog will be at peace.


    My GSD lost all use of all legs today. She seems to be stressed and winces sometimes while trying to stand. I think she might be in pain. I don't want her to suffer.


      No age, no information other than the page that you posted on. IF DM she won't be in pain but very stressed, yes. But DM doesn't come full force overnight. Even in case you don't give your vet more info either, at least (s)he will see your dog. That should make an assessment easy. So I'd suggest you visit a quality vet?


    I have an almost 12 years old male that I had since he was 2 months old. About a week ago he started not being able to correctly put his left foot down, his paw gets caught underneath and seems to not be aware where his legs are. Her is dragging his left foot sometime and I could hear his foot chaffing on the ground at times.Today after he stayed laying down for about 4 hours I took him on a shorter walk and he could not stand up and seemed to have issues with both legs. After an hour break we went again and he seemed to do better but still stumbling sometime, getting his paw caught under and stopping looking confused. I realign his foot and seems to do a few steps ok and then again the same thing.
    I went to the doctor 2 days after he started having the symptoms and the doctor prescribed 100 mg Tramadaol 2xday and Gabapentin 300 mg 2xday. I started giving him this since Saturday afternoon and no improvement ( it has been 5 days so far)

    Also he was already on Carprofen 100 mg twice a day for about a month and a half just for maintenance. I also went and started giving him an immune health supplement from Vetriscience called "cell advance 880"
    Also bought him a sling "GingerLead" dog support sling but he did not get used to it.
    I changed his food from mix of canned/dry food ( it was all natural/organic ) all his life to cooked pork, rice and vegetables (potatoes, carrots, green beans)

    Any advice? The vet kind of did not look at the dog just prescribed the meds saying that he is an old dog and German Shepherds are prone to this disease. She prescribed those meds and advised on a back sling and to get used to the idea .
    How about those supplements/meds you talk about in the article? aminocaproic acid (EACA) and n-acetylcysteine (NAC).

    The boy does not seem to be in any pain, discomfort and he is as strong as ever and just the usual self except that he is incapacitated /slowed down by his back legs?

    Please help! Any advice would be greatly appreciated.

    Max and myself thanks you :)


      Gabapentin is an anti-epileptic, Tramadol is a highly addictive and "breathtaking" painkiller. I trust you only paid that "doctor" but did not actually give either to your dog!?

      Immediately my first sentence explained why: Your dog neither is epileptic nor has pain, and you know that. So why did you pay for that garbage from that "doctor"? I would immediately have countered to him: "But my dog neither is epileptic nor has pain", then I would have enjoyed his facial expression and left. Without paying a penny.

      Oh! Only now I see you wrote: "I started giving him this since Saturday afternoon and no improvement (it has been 5 days so far)"
      - No surprise, see above.

      "Also he was already on Carprofen 100 mg twice a day for about a month and a half just for maintenance." - Just for maintenance? What maintenance? Maintaining the vet's bank account? Carprofen is an NSAID. What's that supposed to help your dog? It cannot. So better stop that garbage as well.

      "I also went and started giving him an immune health supplement from Vetriscience"
      "I changed his food"
      - the latter is all you need to do to help his health, Artur. That the dog was "all his life" on "canned/dry food" [which NEVER is natural/organic, sorry] is a sad fact that can't be changed now. That may well have triggered the DM developing its symptoms now. At least now you give him REAL FOOD. Very good, thank you.

      "The vet kind of did not look at the dog [??!] just prescribed the meds [??!] saying that he is an old dog and German Shepherds are prone to this disease." - What disease? Right the first sentence at the top says: Degenerative Myelopathy (DM) is an inherited defect, and my prior link describes the difference. May your "vet" learn from both.

      "Any advice?" - Tons, see above Artur. :-)
      I wish Max and you many more happy days. 12 years is already a great age after you paid for such "treatment".


        OK Mr Carter. So I will stop his meds from the vet and keep him on the food I give him now. Where do I find the medications described above ? The aminocaproic acid (EACA) and n-acetylcysteine (NAC) ? He is getting exercise shorter and more often walks I have a sling that he is not used to quite yet . Does the way I explained what goes on with him in the beginning seem like this condition?
        Thanks for the advice and you don't have to be so sarcastic, I am going through a very difficult time right now and I always gave my dog the best care, love and attention since he was 2 months old. He means the world to me and it breaks my heart to see him struggle.

        Thanks again


    My gs started having trouble getting off floor now he cant stand on front legs at all uses on floor will not get up without help barely eating u think we gonna hv to put him down he just laying there looking helpless anf lifeless


    My dog lost control of her rear legs at 11 years of age. She has fast normal hips. I thought she has hip dysplasia, but now I'm thinking it's DM. I gave her one ibuprofen per day, and it seemed to help, but I was concerned about toxicity, so I took her to the vet. We took her to the vet and she was still walking, but her rear leg was shaking badly. The vet gave her rimadyl and gabapenten. Two weeks later she could not hold her feces and urine, and at this point, couldn't move her back legs. I bought a wheel chair for dogs believing I could rehabilitate her, between the vet visit and her incontinence. However, she whimpers when I pet her, I know she is miserable, and a shadow of her former self. Now I'm starting to believe she is in a downward spiral, and keeping her alive in this condition is not natural and misguided, and most likely will never be rehabilitated. Any thoughts?


      Why Ibuprofen? Ibuprofen is an anti-inflammatory drug, an NSAID.
      "it seemed to help" - It seemed, your wording is right: When you suppress symptoms (that's what Ibuprofen does) you prevent healing (and so that's what Ibuprofen does too) - all for the "benefit"(??) that temporarily "it seemed to help", like you correctly analyzed.

      I appreciate that many readers here must be shocked, shocked because every jerk of vet (namely allopathic vet, what most vets are) prescribes such junk. And so it just must be good, right?
      Wrong. Read again the above, it really cures, much much more than anti-inflammatory drugs can cure, because they cannot cure at all.

      An inflammation is NOT bad, it is ESSENTIAL for healing!

      It feels like I am repeating myself in almost every comment reply. It takes massive effort to swim against the tide.

      Appreciate the fact that allopathic vets and MDs aren't interested in healing, they only want to suppress symptoms, and only temporarily. So then you have to go back for more, and pay again. And AGAIN. You see?

      But you aren't an allopathic vet, so what do YOU want?
      Presumably you want healing, cure. NOT going back to pay for more prescriptions after the temporary suppression of symptoms wore off, eh?

      "The vet gave her rimadyl and gabapenten" - Rimadyl is another NSAID. Didn't I say "you have to go back for more, and pay again". Right.

      Gabapentin is an anti-epileptic. What's that got to do to help your dog?? Your dog that has no convulsions at all!

      Didn't I say "you have to go back for more, and pay again. And AGAIN."
      Right. And you did. "Everyone" does. Welcome to the world of allopathic medicine. :shock:

      Joe, this won't change until YOU change, you as medical consumer, you must be able to say "NO!" to an allopathic vet, based on what you learned. When enough consumers say "NO!", supply ceases. And only then allopathic physicians will learn to focus on cure, not suppression of symptoms.

      Stop helping the vet's bank account, start helping your dog.

      Now, in your particular case this insight may now come too late, as you will know. And yet, it will help others, and it will help you going forward. For yourself, for your family, and for your next dog.

      "she whimpers when I pet her" - whimpers as in pain, or as in discomfort, stressed?
      DM does not induce any pain at all. So if she "whimpers" in pain, it is not DM, or it is something in addition to DM.

      "Two weeks later she could not hold her feces and urine" - this does indeed suggest DM, or sth "worse" (can there be sth worse than DM? Likely not, depending on viewpoint.)

      "Now I'm starting to believe she is in a downward spiral, and keeping her alive in this condition is not natural and misguided" - Joe, I always say, the dog SHOWS whether (s)he wants to pull through or whether (s)he suffers so much (s)he doesn't want more. If you feel she shows the latter then by all means, you are right, don't force her to suffer more only to have her around longer - which would be egoistic, right?

      But if it's just about pain itself, then there are good canine pain killers that work, that help, without suppressing any inflammation in a way that prevents healing. If you still have hope, do take her to a different vet, a quality vet.


        Thank you for a thoughtful reply. I'm gathering advice from a lot of people that have, or have had pets in this condition. A day off the meds, and she controlled her excretory system better. One of her hind legs shakes a bit, and when using a Walking Wheels wheelchair, her right rear paw folds, sometimes. Most of the time she manages to move her hind legs normally using the wheelchair. She did manage to defecate a bit on her own today while on a walk (which is a big deal!), as she learns to adjust to the use of wheelchair. So, we hope for better days for her, and try different treatments that hopefully lead to sustained strength and will to live.


    I have a 9 year old who has DM. Should i get her rabies shot today?


      I would certainly NOT, no. Just ask the right veterinarian for a written absolution that is valid even at border crossings. The law does provide for these exceptions to the legal requirement.


    My GS is nearly 16 and showing all signs of MD he is not good with vets so any home remedies would be much appreciated ty


      Yes I have posted all remedies for you right above on this page.
      16 is a fantastic feat, congratulations.


    Giving my GSD shots of adaquan...not seeing any benefits.....
    He is almost 10 and struggles to use his back legs.
    What to do?


      "What to do?" Amy, just read. Here above.
      And here.

      Does it say anywhere you should give Adequan?
      So I wouldn't give it.

      Simple really:
      - Adequan is an anti-inflammatory drug developed to palliate the symptom of inflammation in joints (and only in joints).
      - Please read that again, and click through every link and read the follow-up: I put in the effort to always add so many LINKS to help you understand why MYGERMANSHEPHERD.ORG suggests what it does, and does not suggest what you do, and so many others following allopathic medicine.

      - Now the fact that in your dog's situation, Adequan already fails to merely palliate the inflammation symptoms, suggests that he has no inflamed joints anyway. Which aligns with the fact that you posted your question under Degenerative Myelopathy, suggesting that you know that your dog has DM. Is that so?


    I lost my gsd Megan last week to DM and we also think she has osteoarthritis in her hind legs. She had all the symptoms of DM, scrapping of her two middle nails on her hind legs which began years ago, but since February of this year she slowly was unable to walk especially to put weight on her hind right leg. Before last week, she would cross her hind legs while trying to walk and end up falling. She was on pain medication for the arthritis which did well the beginning of the summer, but toward the end she would only sleep a few hours then wake up panting for water. Her bowel movements were managed with medication however they became increasing irregular. She walked on her knuckles on her hind right leg at first, then it became both hind legs. I had her under go laser therapy once a week, she was also on loxicom and gabapentin for the pain of arthritis. It pained me to see he struggle to walk, or to be unable to get up to get to her water bowl. What makes this disease even harder to deal with is that her appetite was still healthy making the decision to let her go all the more difficult. Is there anyone studying this to find a cure? These noble and precious creatures should not have to suffer through this disease. Is there anything that those of us who love and admire this breed can do to get the medical community to act and prevent this from continuing? Megan was my first german shepherd, and I fell in love with the breed and would someday like to get another gsd, but I'd like to be comforted that this will not happen again. I'm ready to fight, just need to know who to work with.


    My rescued girl 8-9 years of age has recently been 95% diagnosed with DM. I noticed in late May that I heard her nails scrapping occasionally when we were walking, I immediately thought of hip dysplasia.
    When I adopted Sophie from the shelter the lady there said that she probably would have hip dysplasia, which I thought was odd and thought maybe because she was a longer and thinner german shepherd. (my male, Sarge 9-10 yrs old and is more compact and muscular)

    I have always made sure to give them food with glucosamine but have always fed commercial food. After getting home from our walk ordered her Dasuquin with MSM. I started giving her that, and to all my dogs. ( I also have a golden doodle).

    So to back things up May 11th she went to her vet for her shots and a toe nail trim, they said she did great and no one ever mentioned anything to me about her toes nails being short, they said she looked great and was healthy. Late May I noticed the nail dragging. I wanted to give the medicine 30 days and on July 13 she fell down the stairs. Knowing this was totally out of the ordinary I begged my vet to see her on July 15th and that is when I heard possible DM and she needs to see a neurologist. I had her to the Mizzou Vet School on 7/31 and they kept her overnight for a MRI released 8/1/17.

    I had her in front of Dr. Coates a leading researcher on this disease and we are waiting for the DNA test to come back. Dr. Coates while very kind, offered no suggestions in alternate therapies beyond her clinical trials which as you know are not really to help Sophie but to further research on the disease. So in the last week I have spent countless hours reading to see what I can do to stop this disease, and that is when I discovered the story about Jack Flash. I then was on FB and found a page on the testing and ironically enough it was Jack Flash's mom. I have come to learn that there are two different theories on this disease by Dr. Clemmens vs. Dr. Coates.

    I prefer to be able to stop this progression for my Sophie and keep her mobile as long as I can. She is 65 lbs so for her to be down in the rear I am just unsure how that would work for us. This is what I have been doing so far. I have put the nail covers on Sophie's two middle toes. I have been walking her and doing the exercises I found online. I had carpet pathways put all over my first floor so she can get around with out slipping as I have hardwood floor entirely throughout my home.

    I went to my vet, who is new at my clinic and asked her to give me a RX for the protocol from Dr. Clemmens and she said that she thought I should refer that question to Dr. Coates....I do not want to insult Dr. Coates by asking for his protocol and I am not sure she would get it for me either. So I have sent a lot of information and made an appointment with a vet that also does acupuncture and physical therapy, but we are on a stand by list and our appointment is not for two more weeks, you know and I know time is of the essence! So I am waiting for my Dr. Baxby's toe grips to come in, I also have ordered a new orthopedic mattress for Sophie and some Sanus Biotex.

    In saying all of this, I am wondering if there is anyone that knows of a vet that would order the Dr. Clemmens protocol of drugs for me from Westlake Pharmacy in Fl. OR if anyone has any food recipes that I can start feeding my dogs. I do feel a little guilty for Sophie as when I adopted her from the pound I promised to love her and care for her and I really feel I failed her.

    I should have know DM existed for GSD but I had no idea. Neither of my GSD have had any medical issues at all, they go to the vet just for their shots! I just should have been educated enough to recognize the signs and that is the other part here that I am struggling with I am 2 months and trying to play catch up. So if anyone here knows of a vet that can prescribe the Dr. Clemmens protocol OR if any of you have any recipes that you use I would love to hear from you! Thank you in advance. Christine


      First, Christine, I had to ask - and pay :roll: - a contractor to format your text to make it readable for everyone who isn't able to read thousands of characters side by side without any paragraphs whatsoever. This is what SPAMMERS do automatically with "bots".
      If you look here how others (and I too) format texts, it will help you dramatically to get more qualified replies on other sites as well. I trust you appreciate my tip? Because not the quantity of responses you get matters, but the quality. ;-)

      Second note, to me it is irrelevant who advised you on fakebook: despite all the site's effort(?) fake "expert" information dominates fakebook, for understandable reasons. I don't have that kind of ambition though, so MYGERMANSHEPHERD.ORG is void of that.

      With both points clarified, here's my personal reply that you asked for:
      "My rescued girl 8-9 years of age has recently been 95% diagnosed with DM." - Impossible. DM is an inherited defect of a known gene mutation in every affected dog. Either a dog HAS the mutation, or the dog has NOT. A "95% diagnosis" is fake news. Also, "a leading researcher on this disease", DM is not a disease, but a defect.
      So there you already see how "qualified" the "advice" was you've been given in the past. As always, unless bias restricts the view.

      You also mention hip dysplasia, hip dysplasia too is an inherited defect.
      Work through both links (there are two: inherited, and defect) to understand what I am saying.

      "I have always made sure to give them food with glucosamine but have always fed commercial food." - Impossible as well. Industrially produced "pet food" is the end product of incinerated waste products, glucosamine denature during incineration and cannot subsequently be gassed on either, so there are never glucosamine in industrial "pet food", regardless of all marketing claims and paid-for "analyses".

      Next, "she went to her vet for her shots" - what "shots"?? Did that "vet" try to kill your dog with a pistol or with superfluous vaccination "boosters"?? :shock:

      "to her vet for ... and a toe nail trim" - Paw Care you learn here, and this avoids not just the cost of having a vet trim dog nails... but more importantly avoids being seen as the uninformed dog owner that can be melked with veterinary bills, as allopathic vets love to do because ... - exactly! :-)

      You notice from all the linked content how much there is to learn and how helpful, outright life-saving, that is? Good, because that is the purpose of this site, not this.

      "After getting home from our walk ordered her Dasuquin with MSM. I started giving her that, and to all my dogs." - Good. Since how long ago are the dogs on Nutramax Dasuquin with MSM, and what changes have you noticed?

      "I wanted to give the medicine 30 days" - which medicine? Got a name?

      As for "This is what I have been doing so far...", how about taking a step back and clearing your mind first with all the content I linked for you, including this very page on Degenerative Myelopathy? But note that you have no DM diagnosis yet. Only after you have a positive diagnosis I would suggest to do exactly what I described on this very page above. I would not do all that you describe you found on the internet at fakebook et al. I would save all that money and donate it to a cause that's worth it or a place that really helps you.

      Also note that "time is of the essence" is wrong: Doing the right things is of the essence. ;-)


    My gernan shepherd has been showing small signs of problems with his back legs for about 2 weeks, they would collapse maybe 2 or 3 times during an hours walk. Last night he lost total control of them, he was shaking and frightened. Today he does seem to be adapting and I am making him a doggy wheelchair from a pram.
    Just wanted to say this is a very nice article, well written - it has also given me some hope (which is what i am looking for right now).

    For British readers, the NAC medication is not sold here in UK, my local chemist checked this for me.


      Thanks Peter.
      Are you aware that NAC too can simply be compounded? If YOUR chemist declines or doesn't know, just see another one?
      I know that other owners in UK have succeeded, so they said.
      Making a dog wheelchair from a pram?? Wow, great idea if it works out! All the more if you leave the pillows in :-)
      All the owners I know have always purchased one (without pillows, lol). Most went for the Walkin Wheels. I say to you too: that should be the ultima ratio, the last choice. First follow the other options listed above.


    Peter have your gsd checked by your vet. My gsd also had dm signs but I never had her tested, she got worse and I had to put her down in July. We did laser therapy, it worked for a while but she still declined. Also try hydro therapy since your dog may be in the early stages. What I've read exercise may help and thus may be a good exercise for your dog. It was the next step for mine, but she declined rapidly so I don't think it would have helped her. Good luck, I know how painful it is to watch your gsd struggle to walk.


    How much NAC. Should I give my 60 lb Shepard? She is almost 13. The NAC I have is 600mg. Thank you


    Hello my name is Karl. I have just come across your website. But I have found it too late. My partner and I decided to put our precious German shepherd Leona to sleep on Monday. Leona was 13 years and eight months old and we thought that she had hip displasia but after reading your information I am sure it was DM that she suffered with, we thought that she was in pain, but she never winced or yelped at all. She could not walk with her back legs and dragged herself, we had to hold her up so she could urinate and defecate. In the house she lost control of her bladder and bowel movements. When we brought her upstairs she wore a nappy and we had to lift her under her belly to support her, then taking her down we had a sling around her waist to get her back down the stairs. I had to take the water to her and hold her bowls for her and pass her drinks when she was thirsty. She was diagnosed with hip dislasia years ago and her back legs got worse over time, I did notice the scraping of her back toenails about a year ago and then it got so bad that she couldn't walk at all. She seemed very happy and loved to lay in the garden but I noticed she started getting anxious by her head shaking with frustration at not been able to get up.I am so devastated and I am truly broken, I am heartbroken and I collapse to the floor where she lay wanting her back. And now I feel so guilty thinking that she wasn't in pain at all. I feel like I cant live without her, she is my daughter, Leona.

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