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Degenerative Myelopathy (DM)

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Degenerative Myelopathy (DM)

Post  dieselsmom on 2/5/2012, 4:02 pm

I'm in the process of updating my links on my computer for DM information and thought I'd share the information here. DM was primarily a GSD disease, then became prevelant in corgis. Now, after having 2 DM pugs, I have a feeling it's much more prevelant in other breeds than initially believed.

What is DM? The disease has an insidious onset typically between 8 and 14 years of age. It begins with a loss of coordination (ataxia) in the hind limbs. The affected dog will wobble when walking, knuckle over or drag the feet. This can first occur in one hind limb and then affect the other. As the disease progresses, the limbs become weak and the dog begins to buckle and has difficulty standing. The weakness gets progressively worse until the dog is unable to walk. The clinical course can range from 6 months to 1 year before dogs become paraplegic. If signs progress for a longer period of time, loss of urinary and fecal continence may occur and eventually weakness will develop in the front limbs. Another key feature of DM is that it is not a painful disease.
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Re: Degenerative Myelopathy (DM)

Post  dieselsmom on 2/5/2012, 4:14 pm

Here are some links to DM info:

http://www.caninegeneticdiseases.net/DM/basicDM.htm

http://vetmedicine.about.com/cs/dogdiseasesd/a/degenmylopathy.htm

http://www.maybeckvet.com/degenerativemyelopathy.html
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Re: Degenerative Myelopathy (DM)

Post  northernwitch on 2/5/2012, 4:22 pm

Thanks Rachel. I was surprised when you initially posted that it wasn't common in pugs as my physiotherapist for the dogs sees alot of it across all the breeds.

I wonder if it just goes undiagnosed or misdiagnosed in breeds like pugs or if folks just don't bother doing the diagnostics. We had a pug come in diagnosed with Wobbler's and a ton of vets told us that wasn't possible as "pugs don't get Wobbler's". Yeah? Well, this one did.....
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Re: Degenerative Myelopathy (DM)

Post  dieselsmom on 2/5/2012, 4:32 pm

I think it's much more common than they initially believed - in all breeds across the board. My DM links are a couple years old (from my initial research when Kayla was first diagnosed) and I see many of the sites have updated their information to reflect that DM has been found in many breeds in recent years.

Also, I don't know how many people do diagnostics to determine if it is DM - both during the dog's life and post-mortem. DM cannot be diagnosed while the dog is alive; it's only diagnosed through necropsy; however if you do the genetic test to determine whether your dog has the DM gene, it's a presumptive diagnosis during the dog's life. We did not have a necropsy performed on Kayla when she passed away - I simply could not wrap my mind around it at that time. However, I will most likely have a necropsy performed on Grace and have tissue samples donated to DM research. I believe it's extremely important to help the researchers of this nasty disease.
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Re: Degenerative Myelopathy (DM)

Post  dieselsmom on 2/5/2012, 4:36 pm

northernwitch wrote:We had a pug come in diagnosed with Wobbler's and a ton of vets told us that wasn't possible as "pugs don't get Wobbler's". Yeah? Well, this one did.....

When Kayla was "diagnosed" with DM, the vets told me pugs don't get DM - it's a GSD disease. Well, guess what - she was a pug and she got DM. Never say never. Sadly, there are many diseases (DM included) that general practice vets simply are not knowledgable about. I don't believe my regular vet has ever seen a case of DM until Kayla and now Grace. That's why I'm so grateful to have veterinary specialists, like neurologists who are more familiar with diseases that general practice vets are not. Another reason why we all cannot be big enough advocates for our dogs. Had I not pursued further testing on Kayla, we'd never have known she suffered from DM. Had I not sought out a neurologist's opinion on Grace, we'd not have known she suffers from DM - our regular vet repeatedly told me it was arthritis and hip displaysia. I cannot say enough how important it is for us as owners to constantly seek out the truth when we know something just isn't right with our babies.
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Re: Degenerative Myelopathy (DM)

Post  northernwitch on 2/5/2012, 4:58 pm

I agree. I've had so many dogs (pugs especially) in my care that vets told me shouldn't have this or that disease or disorder. If I had a nickle for every time my vet had said "I've never heard of a pug with that", I would be fabulously wealthy......
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Re: Degenerative Myelopathy (DM)

Post  ocnside on 2/5/2012, 5:03 pm

dieselsmom wrote:
northernwitch wrote:We had a pug come in diagnosed with Wobbler's and a ton of vets told us that wasn't possible as "pugs don't get Wobbler's". Yeah? Well, this one did.....

I cannot say enough how important it is for us as owners to constantly seek out the truth when we know something just isn't right with our babies.

Amen to that!!
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Re: Degenerative Myelopathy (DM)

Post  Cathy on 2/5/2012, 5:49 pm

ocnside wrote:
dieselsmom wrote:
northernwitch wrote:We had a pug come in diagnosed with Wobbler's and a ton of vets told us that wasn't possible as "pugs don't get Wobbler's". Yeah? Well, this one did.....

I cannot say enough how important it is for us as owners to constantly seek out the truth when we know something just isn't right with our babies.

Amen to that!!

Not to hijack your thread Rachel, but I know in Winston's case, my vet had never seen a case of syringomyelia before, let alone in a pug. And guess what, syringomyelia can look like Wobbler's too. Knuckling, foot dragging, everything that goes along with Wobbler's. We are our babies best advocates and I know I fought darm hard for Winston as you did with Kayla.
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Re: Degenerative Myelopathy (DM)

Post  PugLady3 on 2/6/2012, 11:40 am

Same thing with Buster's osteosarcoma. It's considered a big dog cancer & very rare in pugs. I always said that Buster didn't know that he wasn't a big dog, though. In his mind, he was.

I suspect that both Pugsy and Yoda may have suffered from DM as well. We never did an MRI and I didn't even think to have to the post-mortem testing done. Now I wish that I would have.
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Re: Degenerative Myelopathy (DM)

Post  GingerSnap on 2/12/2012, 10:40 pm

Rachel, if DM can't be diagnosed until necropsy, how did they diagnose it when you had Kayla and Grace's MRI's done? Were they just ruling out disc and other spinal issues and leaving DM as the diagnosis of exclusion?
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Re: Degenerative Myelopathy (DM)

Post  dieselsmom on 2/12/2012, 11:08 pm

That's exactly what it is Ginger - a diagnosis of exclusion. We ruled out all other causes of the symptoms - FCE, tumor or growth on spinal cord, bulging or ruptured disk. With Grace we did not do the MRI, since we were pretty sure it was DM given her symptoms mirrored Kayla's so we did the DNA test to confirm she has the "at risk/affected" DM gene.
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Re: Degenerative Myelopathy (DM)

Post  GingerSnap on 2/13/2012, 12:46 am

Gotcha! With my new foster having spinal issues, I've been thinking about you a lot. I also discovered today that she's a poop eater of her own. Rolling Eyes Have you figured out a way to discourage that when you don't actually see Grace doing it?
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Re: Degenerative Myelopathy (DM)

Post  dieselsmom on 2/13/2012, 5:58 am

GingerSnap wrote:Gotcha! With my new foster having spinal issues, I've been thinking about you a lot. I also discovered today that she's a poop eater of her own. Rolling Eyes Have you figured out a way to discourage that when you don't actually see Grace doing it?
Sorry can't help with that. Solving that habit would be better than winning the lottery!
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DM

Post  suekwilson on 1/21/2013, 1:32 pm

There is now a test for DM offered by the University of Missouri. Just a mouth swab, DNA test. Very simple and inexpensive. They compare DM in dogs to ALS in humans. My English Bulldog was diagnosed with DM, but the swab came back "clear". After an MRI, I was told she has "Pug Myelopathy"; which is why I am on this site. But I can't find any information. Unlike DM, there is an operation to stop the progression of this paralysis. She is only 6 and I am confused and upset and looking for help.

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Re: Degenerative Myelopathy (DM)

Post  northernwitch on 1/21/2013, 1:46 pm

suekwilson wrote:There is now a test for DM offered by the University of Missouri. Just a mouth swab, DNA test. Very simple and inexpensive. They compare DM in dogs to ALS in humans. My English Bulldog was diagnosed with DM, but the swab came back "clear". After an MRI, I was told she has "Pug Myelopathy"; which is why I am on this site. But I can't find any information. Unlike DM, there is an operation to stop the progression of this paralysis. She is only 6 and I am confused and upset and looking for help.
Pug Myelopathy? Never heard of that one. I'm going to let Rachel respond as she's the DM expert, but that is surely a new one on me. I'm sorry about your bullie girl.
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Re: Degenerative Myelopathy (DM)

Post  PugLady3 on 1/21/2013, 6:24 pm

I've never heard of Pug Myelopathy either. I have seen some pugs with nearly identical symptoms being diagnosed as having invertebral disc disease and then others as having degenerative myelopathy. Depends on the doctor I think.
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Re: Degenerative Myelopathy (DM)

Post  dieselsmom on 1/21/2013, 10:22 pm

Like Blanche, I've never heard of Pug Myelopathy. However, there are several spinal and neurological conditions that have similar symptoms. But the important part is that the treatment/care for different conditions can be very different - i.e. for DM, you want to keep them as active as possible to keep the muscle wasting at bay as long as possible but for IVDD you want to rest them to resolve the inflammation and prevent further damage.

Who "diagnosed" the pug myelopathy? A regular vet? Neurologist? If you haven't already, please see a neurologist ASAP. The closest neurologist was 2 hours away, now it's 3 hours away, but well worth the time and money. My regular vet has NO experience with DM other than my two pugs. When my second pug started showing symptoms of DM, he fought me and told me there was no way she had DM, it was just arthritis and hip displaysia but I knew better - I had just gone through DM with my other pug and I knew the symptoms were identical. So I took her to a neurologist who said she had all the symptoms of DM. Also, her genetic test was "affected/at-risk" for DM.

What is the surgery exactly that you're talking about? What does the surgery do? Are you sure it's not some problem with bulging or ruptured discs in her back? That seems the most likely condition that would call for surgery. Spinal surgery is NOT something to be taken lightly. It can have good results. It can result in no improvement. It can result in total paralysis. You're dog's age is a good factor in that a younger dog would handle the surgery better, but I'd urge you to get a second opinion (especially from a canine neurologist) before making a decision on any sort of spinal surgery.

Please feel free to ask me any questions you may have. We're all here to help.
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Re: Degenerative Myelopathy (DM)

Post  suekwilson on 1/22/2013, 8:51 am

We have had Clementine to 2 neurologists; the first thought DM, but she tested negative. The second did an MRI and is the one who said "Pug Myelopathy". She said that she was born with this and it will lead to complete paralysis, if not corrected. She called it "Compressive myelopathy at T10-11", for insurance purposes. (Yes, we have insurance on Clem; only one of our 4 dogs. It doesn't pay much, but it helps!) The surgery is called a decompressive laminectomy to relieve pressure on the spine. I like this doctor; she is in Naples, Florida, in her 30's and seems to "be up on" the latest surgical methods. But, I always worry a little extra about bully breeds undergoing any type of surgery. And I am NOT looking forward to the rehab. She is not a "crate dog", seems to have a little Jack Russel mixed in! Pls. say a little prayer for her. She is my sunshine! thanks for your thoughts. Will post outcome!


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Re: Degenerative Myelopathy (DM)

Post  dieselsmom on 1/22/2013, 9:21 pm

If I'm understanding correctly and doing some research, it sounds like she's got compression on her spine and the surgery will relieve that compression. Seems to be exactly what's needed for her to improve. Crate rest is a bitch for sure, but there's lots you can do to keep her entertained in there. Fill kongs with frozen yogurt or peanut butter or other yummies and freeze them (takes longer for them to empty the kong if the contents are frozen). Or find her some yummy marrow bones. I was going to suggest puzzle toys, but not sure if that would be too much movement for her even in the crate.

I hope the surgery is successful and Clementine's symptoms resolve. But, keep in mind, if it doesn't resolve or if it's not a permanent solution, dogs with spinal issues can still live a long life as long as their quality of life is there. Good luck and please let us know how everything goes for Clementine.
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Re: Degenerative Myelopathy (DM)

Post  suekwilson on 1/22/2013, 9:46 pm

Clementine's neurologist vet called at dinner time. Surgery was 3 1/2 hours; but no complications. Said everything went well. Clem is on heavy duty pain meds; will know more tomorrow.

Thanks for your ideas of "crate entertainment"... the peanut butter kong, she will LOVE. But, the puzzles?? Remember, she is a bulldog... not the sharpest knife in the drawer! It will be a long 6-8 weeks, for sure. But, if it keeps her back legs working... it is worth it all. She is a great little (and she is little, for a bulldog; only 35 pounds!) dog.

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Re: Degenerative Myelopathy (DM)

Post  Pugsaunt on 1/24/2013, 6:07 pm

So glad that Clem is doing well after surgery. Both of you will be in my prayers for her quick recovery.
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Re: Degenerative Myelopathy (DM)

Post  LisaIzzyAggy on 1/24/2013, 11:36 pm

I'm so glad the surgery went well. Please continue to keep us updated on her condition and good luck with the crate rest.
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Re: Degenerative Myelopathy (DM)

Post  Imon on 1/25/2013, 12:47 am

So glad to hear the surgery went well! I hope Clementine is feeling much better very soon. A friend of ours has two bulldogs, and they are wonderful characters! Hugs to Clementine.
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Pug Ataxia Paralysis

Post  Kathleen Smiler on 2/6/2013, 2:12 pm

Hello, I just found your Forum
I would like to post this information:


Pug Spinal Problems – Rear Leg Ataxia and
Paralysis Information



Ataxia/Paralysis is a
prevalent problem in Pug dogs. Although there are 4 or 5 known spinal causes of
ataxia/paralysis, many dogs with problems do not receive a final diagnosis, and
owners are not well informed as to the options for successful long term care of
their dogs. In particular, affected Pugs, in middle age, may develop a chronic, progressive weakness of the rear
end
that results in a painless
but permanent disability. Efforts
are needed to understand how wide spread spinal problems are in the Pug population,
and to encourage research into the cause and elimination of this condition.



Please contact Dr. Kathleen
Smiler,
for more information.


Information also appears on
our Facebook page:
Pug Dog Health - Rear/Ataxia Paralysis



A new description of a spinal/neurological
problem, Constrictive Myelopathy, was recently published: Constrictive myelopathy secondary to hypoplasia or aplasia of the
thoracolumbar caudal articular processes in Pugs: 11 cases (1993-2009).
Journals: J Am Vet Med Assoc (JAVMA) 242[2] Jan 15, 2013: 223-9, Stephen C
Fisher; Andy Shores; Stephen T Simpson

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Re: Degenerative Myelopathy (DM)

Post  PugLady3 on 2/6/2013, 3:46 pm

Thank you for the information and welcome to the forum! I would be very interested in seeing more studies done on this subject. I currently have my third pug with rear end weakness (he's having an MRI done next week) and we have seen MANY pugs come through rescue with it. I contacted the Pug Dog Club of America's health committee about it a few years ago but they were focused on researching PDE at the time (another very worthy cause).
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Re: Degenerative Myelopathy (DM)

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