Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Learning to Live with Canine Degenerative Myelopathy

Treatment Goals

After a few tearful days, unneeded searches on the internet (I strongly suggest against this!), and long conversations with my husband, I have found that my girl Stella is still the silly, playful, loving Boxer she has always been....we just need to make sure she is healthy and comfortable.  I have found that living with DM can be OK.

Canine degenerative myelopathy (DM) is an uncommon disease that primarily affects purebred dogs. DM disrupts the normal communication pathways between the brain and spinal cord, causing loss of coordination and eventual paralysis. There is no cure or current treatment for DM. However, there are things that we can try to help delay progression of the disease and improve Stella's quality of life. These are our goals of treating this progressive disease.

Meticulous supportive care is the only available therapy for dogs with degenerative myelopathy. Once an affected dog starts losing its ability to stand and walk, its owner must do a number of things to maintain its quality of life. Moderate exercise and other forms of physical therapy are encouraged, to delay muscle deterioration and atrophy and help maintain mobility and strength in the pelvic limbs. “Range of motion” exercises, where the owner stretches, extends and flexes the dog’s rear legs, are especially helpful. This sort of activity seems to slow the progression of DM and helps affected dogs maintain strength, balance and the ability to walk for a longer period of time. Swimming exercises, underwater treadmill use and other water-based techniques (hydrotherapy) also can benefit dogs with DM.

No drug has proven effective in stopping or slowing the progression of canine DM. Vitamins and omega-3 fatty acid supplements have been advocated as potential therapies, but are not as yet proven. Vitamin E, Vitamin B complex and Vitamin C are under investigation as possible useful supplements for managing this disease, although their usefulness remains unknown. Other chemical therapies are being studied, including administration of aminocaproic acid and the potent antioxidant, acetylcysteine. These experimental treatments can have adverse side effects, are expensive and may require long-term use. A veterinarian is the best person to recommend a treatment regimen for a dog with degenerative myelopathy.

We are so happy with our Veterinarian Dr. Shawn Clemmer at VCA All Our Pets.  I instantly felt comfortable with her and feel we are on the same page.  We are also taking Stella to the Integrative Veterinary Center seeing Dr. Luna.  We have started giving Stella the following upon IVC suggestion:
Standard Process Calcifood
Standard Process Cataplex B
Standard Process Catalyn
Standard Process Neurotrophin PMG
Chinese Herbs: Ginseng Nourshing and Cercuma longa

These along with acupuncture sessions and a healthy diet she seems to have a little more spring in her step...or so I think.

We will start her in Rehabilitation such as underwater treadmill at the VCA Veterinary Referral Center in Sacramento.  This should be interesting as Stella is not a swimmer!  I will post photos and keep the details coming.

For now we will keep doing what we always do and enjoy our beautiful girl!

Read more about Stella & DM here


1 comment:

  1. God Bless and good luck to you and your precious baby girl.