Increase Your Understanding of Degenerative Myelopathy (DM)

German Shepherd with DM

Is your dog dragging its back paws? Or starting to wobble? Here’s a quick primer on understanding Degenerative Myelopathy (DM) and what you might do to assist your dog.

Quick Facts About DM

Which Breeds Get It?

Dog breeds prone to degenerative myelopathy

Degenerative Myelopathy is a progressive spinal disease affecting older dogs. Resulting in:

  • Lack of coordination
  • Paw knuckling and dragging
  • Mobility loss with progressive worsening over time

Degenerative Myelopathy is a hereditary disease that passes down through bad breeding. DM is most prevalent in German Shepherds, but also occurs in Boxers, Siberian Husky, and Corgis.

Although there is no cure for DM, intervention can extend survival and greatly improve quality of life.

What Are the Symptoms of Degenerative Myelopathy?

Symptoms and progression of DM in dogs

Symptoms of Degenerative Myelopathy will change and worsen over time.

Early signs of DM include:

  • Loss of coordination in the hind limbs
  • Rear feet knuckling and dragging
  • Mild hind-end weakness

Symptoms at 6 Months:

  • Hind limbs become weaker
  • Dog has difficulty standing
  • Dog may lose ability to walk

DM Symptoms at 1 Year:

  • Urinary and fecal incontinence
  • Weakness in front limbs as well as rear
  • Eventual paralysis in hind limbs

What Can I Do If My Dog Has DM?

DM Care and Treatment

Assistive Equipment to Support DM Dogs

Your dog’s mobility needs will change throughout the many stages of DM. Here are a few assistive devices to help keep your dog moving.

  • Slings and harnesses for a lifting support
  • Pet boots to protect dragging paws
  • Utilize training tools to help with paw placement and gait training

Holistic Care

Work with your Vet and rehab specialist to come up with a treatment plan that includes a multi modal plan.

  • Physical therapy and hydrotherapy for increased muscle strength
  • Acupuncture to help with blood flow
  • Balanced nutrition

Dog Wheelchair

Eventually every dog diagnosed with Degenerative Myelopathy will need the support of dog wheelchair. Here are a few of the ways a dog wheelchair can support your dog:

  • Keep pets active and mobile
  • Increase strength and minimize chance of muscle atrophy
  • Offers progressive support that adapts to a pet’s changing needs

Want to learn more? Read this blog post to learn more about the Stages and Progression of DM.

Understanding DM Guide


Add DM Infographic to Your Website:

Degenerative Myelopathy Guide

Feel free to embed this infographic to your own website by copying and pasting the code below:

<a href=""><img class="alignnone size-full wp-image-3047" src="" alt=“Understanding Degenerative Myelopathy (DM)" width="700" style="margin:0 auto;display: block;" /></a>
<p style="text-align: center; font-size: 14px; padding-top: 4px;">This infographic was made by <a href=""&gtWalkin' Pets by</a&gt

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