What is Degenerative Myelopathy & Is a Dog Wheelchair the Answer?
Frequently owners tell us their older dog has hip dysplasia, degenerative joint disease (DJD, or osteoarthritis (OA), and are looking for a wheelchair. After a few questions, we realize that their dog may really be unisuffering from degenerative myelopathy.
What is Degenerative Myelopathy?
Degenerative myelopathy (DM) was recognized over 35 years ago. Initially, it was thought to only affect German Shepherd Dogs. However, it is now recognized to occur in many other dog breeds. The disease was originally called chronic degenerative radiculomyelopathy, which is still the name it goes by in Europe and other countries outside the USA. Degenerative myelopathy has many features similar to amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) or Lou Gehrig's disease in people. ALS, like DM, has an onset in middle age in humans just like what is seen in canine DM. Canine DM is a spinal cord disease, which microscopically appears as a degradation of axons, the long extension of the nerve cells, and myelin, the covering to nerve cells.