Stages & Progression of Degenerative Myelopathy
Canine degenerative myelopathy or DM is a progressive disease of the spinal cord of unknown origin. It eventually causes hind limb weakness and paralysis. With this particular disease, the myelin sheath, which normally protects the spinal neurons, breaks down causing the exposure of the underlying nerve fibers. This also causes disruption in the communication pathways between the brain and the spinal cord.
Canine degenerative myelopathy progresses in different stages. Learning the different stages will actually help the owner understand the changes in the dog’s body. The early stages of degenerative myelopathy start with an almost gradual weakening of the hind limbs. Degenerative myelopathy seems to be a harmless disease and is easy to overlook especially in the early stages of this disease. From the early stage to the mid-mid stage of degenerative myelopathy, you will notice the dog starts to scrape its nails on the pavement as it walks, though this is not going to be in constant. In this stage also, the dog will show signs of difficulty getting up. There is also an issue of difficulty in maintaining balance as the dog stands. The dog also be able to right its foot in this stage, however, it will take them longer time to do it.
As canine degenerative myelopathy further progresses into late mid-stage, the dog will experience an increase level of difficulty when rising up. The dog will scrape its nails on the pavement more often until it becomes constant. And as the disease a progress, the dog loses the sensation of its hind limbs and unconsciously has his or her rear legs crossed under the body. The wrong placement of the dog’s feet will often cause them to stumble. The dog will also lose its balance and topple over if you will move the dog side by side using your while the dog is standing. You will also notice exaggerated movements from your dog. There is also a rare wagging and activeness in the dog’s tail. If this takes place, the dog’s legs will become easily tangled with their tail. It will also take time for the dog to right its foot because of fact that the dog can no longer feel its foot causing him to knuckle.
As degenerative myelopathy advances in the in early late stage, there is already uncontrolled spasmodic movement in the rear legs and the tail indicates the nerve impulses are going down. Kicking out the rear legs without reason will also be observed along with the tail seeming to raise and lower as if preparing to defecate. Maintaining balance during defecation becomes a problem and when the dog squats, it will lose its balance and fall. Upon reaching the late stage, dogs will likely to lose the ability to bear weight on its own particularly the hind legs. The dog will no longer be able to rise up. Once the dog is being lifted, it will not be able to remain in a standing position, without having any support most especially on its hindquarters.
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