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Tell Me About Your Experience with Canine DM

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  • Tell Me About Your Experience with Canine DM

    My older standard poodle has been having lots of hind end problems, muscle mass loss, difficulty getting up, loses balance, etc...I've been taking him to a chiro, accupunture and laser therapy treatments for many months. He also has spinal chord fusion in his back as well as some issues with his back paw ... I think its called procipreoation? I know that spelling is wrong but its where if you flip his paw upside down he doesn't know its flipped. Chiro vet recommended that he go on gabapentin and tramadol because her treatments aren't working. He's seen vet before this which is why I started the chiro and other work, but I think he's gotten worse.

    At any rate, vet looked at him and we are prescribing the meds, but he felt that he had some DM in the mix of just degeneration and arthritis. And Lar Par as well. I'd say he could be mid stage with some later stage symptoms - like he drops poop sometimes.

    Would love to hear stories as sad as they are about the progression of this so I understand what real life things I should expect. And how long they lasted once diagnosed. After this visit I'm feeling like our days are numbered... but I'm not sure how quickly things will go...if you could share would greatly appreciate it.

  • #2
    I think all those symptoms can be attributed to just Laryngeal paralysis (not saying that's all the issue is). In my experience it's a gradual decline despite medical intervention


    • Original Poster

      How is Lar Par affecting hind end and the lack of feeling in the hind leg/paw or the reduced muscle mass and unsteadiness and inability to get up at times?

      I thought those symptoms from the vet was from DM? and Lar Par effected the throat?

      I'd really like to know the longevity and some timeline experiences. I understand that every dog is different but it might help me prepare.


      • #4
        I'm not familiar with Lar Par on a personal level but we let go of our GSD (my avatar) who had DM a few years ago. It is an ugly and crippling disease. He was only 8.

        In retrospect we may have been earlier than most people would have let them go, but he was having proprioception issues as well, and I felt that he was feeling like he was letting us down by not being able to keep up like he used to. He viewed us and the farm as his job and I don't think he understood. His symptoms were a general listlessness and the toe-drag/proprioception issues behind. In his case the onset was quite rapid, he went from being a little funny behind to major condition loss and proprioception issues.

        For us, once we got the diagnosis we pretty much scheduled the at-home visit for euthanasia. We had him PTS a month after the diagnosis, and spent that month spoiling the hell out of him. Our vet was not optimistic and explained that at the time, there is nothing shown to halt the progression of the disease and that you are running on borrowed time until QOL is a consideration.

        (Hugs) I am so sorry. I hope it isn't DM and is simply perhaps something from the spinal cord fusion or a slipped disc.
        AETERNUM VALE, INVICTUS - 7/10/2012


        • Original Poster

          I'm so sorry Beowulf - that is tough.. but probably the right decision for his quality of life.

          My dog has seen 3 vets over the course of this year. The first vet didn't mention DM as a possibility, but he's progressively gotten worse. The chiro/acupuncture vet didn't mention it either, but she also thought that if her treatment wasn't working that he was just on a pain management course as he was going to get worse. No one of course knows how long he has and currently he can walk around relatively well, but definitely has balance and issues getting up. He also still plays with the puppy but mostly he's laying down playing and she seems to be happy with that. They are actually really sweet together when they play.

          The vet mentioned that some breeds like the Shepherds will get DM and also get bad very quickly. He said that other breeds didn't have quite the rapid progression... I just forgot to ask him a bunch of questions.


          • #6
            Originally posted by horsenut_8700 View Post
            I think all those symptoms can be attributed to just Laryngeal paralysis (not saying that's all the issue is). In my experience it's a gradual decline despite medical intervention
            Horsenut is correct. The CE I attended a while back was indicating that there seems to be a progressive loss of nerve function. The respiratory changes are usually noticed first, but with time hind limb ataxia is common.

            Genetic DM starts in the back end and moves cranially


            • #7
              You can order the test for DM yourself from VetGen and do the cheek swab at home. Cost is less than $100


              • #8
                The DM test is available for $65 directly from OFA. My breed (Chesapeake) has a fairly high carrier rate. The test will tell you if your dog is N/N (clear), A/N, (carrier), or A/A (at risk). It cannot definitively tell you your dog has DM, although if the result is A/A it's a pretty good bet. The only way to have a 100% diagnosis of DM is postmortem, sadly.

                Dogs with DM will drag their rear toes and wear the nails down to nothing, and once you've seen it, it's fairly easy to spot. However, the current thought is that there may be more than one form of DM. The existing test identifies one gene present, but it is a strong possibility it is a polygenic disease. Thats why the current genetic test says At Risk rather than Affected.
                "Argue for your limitations and you get to keep them."
                -Richard S. Bach


                • #9
                  Originally posted by altermetoday View Post
                  How is Lar Par affecting hind end and the lack of feeling in the hind leg/paw or the reduced muscle mass and unsteadiness and inability to get up at times?

                  I thought those symptoms from the vet was from DM? and Lar Par effected the throat?

                  I'd really like to know the longevity and some timeline experiences. I understand that every dog is different but it might help me prepare.
                  There is now some thinking that lar par can be an early onset of a more generalized, progressive neurodegeneration, and renaming to "Geriatric Onset Laryngeal Paralysis Polyneuropathy (GOLLP) has been suggested. Michigan State Vet School has been doing some research- google "GOLPP". There is much info online.


                  • Original Poster

                    Houndhill - thanks for the information. I will look that up.

                    this is all new to me. I've had a friend's shepherd who had DM and she went downhill pretty quickly. the vet did mention that it could be a form of DM mixed with everything else.

                    thanks for the responses... its so heartbreaking to watch him age like this. I was home all day yesterday and we spent a good bit of time together, however, about midday and evening I noticed that he just didn't want to get up to go outside. he will do it if its for something he's super interested in, but he's declining going outside with the other dogs which is highly unusual. :-(


                    • #11
                      Yes, I know the heartbreak so well, when they go downhill....seems putting a label on it is sometimes all we can do, if that.....


                      • #12
                        When my GSD started showing symptoms of losing muscle in his hind end I looked at youtube for similar situations and figured out that it was DM. It was horrible and heartbreaking. I put him down when he could no longer stand up to poop.
                        Patriotism is the last refuge to which a scoundrel clings. Steal a little and they throw you in jail. Steal a lot and they make you king." ~Bob Dylan


                        • #13
                          Sorry to hear about your boys issues -

                          Slightly different but we had a Doberman that was diagnosed with Dancing Doberman Disease which is thought to be a peripheral neuropathy like issue. Neurologist also felt she may have had another separate neurological issue contributing as well. Her symptoms were very similar to DM, but a lot of neuro issues have the same symptoms as each other.

                          We did use both Gabapentin and Tramadol with her and they definitely made a difference in her comfort level. She lived about 3 years after the DDD diagnosis ultimately passed away from congestive heart failure. One big thing seems to be that they loose strength very quickly vs a normal dog. Keeping them active and moving consistently seems important for them to not deteriorate quicker. The gabapentin and pain meds helps with this because if there are nerve pain or arthritic issues bothering them, that can prevent them from moving as much.

                          In later stages my girl had very poor hind limb propriocetion and dragged her toes although not enough to cause over wearing or toe nail bleeding, which I know can happen in some cases. We had hind feet booties recommended if it started getting to that point.


                          • Original Poster

                            NorCal - did you do extra conditioning for your dog? I find it hard to walk my dog very long and vet recommended 3 short walks per day on flat ground if possible. I have a hill to get to flat ground on my property but probably walking him down and around the driveway areas would be enough to help.


                            • #15
                              Didn't do any hard core conditioning. Just making sure she went for a decent walk until tired - which didn't take long - probably 30 mins. Then making sure she got up and played, walked, ran around the yard throughout the day. Left to her own devices she would've spent the entire day taking old lady naps on the couch/dog bed. Our other dogs kept her more active too vs if it was only her.

                              The hill would probably be good for him - uphill would work the hind end more. But I would just do as much as you think he can handle. Don't force him to continue on if he seems tired or lethargic.


                              • #16
                                Late to this conversation, but thought I'd share my experience. I have a 10 year Corgi that started dragging his toes end of July. We sent off bloodwork, and it came back as A/A-at risk for DM.

                                I took him to a neurologist as well, just to cover all my bases. She highly recommended physical therapy, to keep him as strong as long as possible. There really aren't any meds that have shown to help much, although he is on Galliprant and Adequan. (Mostly because he is 10, and I want to keep him as comfortable as possible.)

                                We started physical therapy, which includes an underwater treadmill, laser, swimming and land based exercises. He is doing really well, and while I know it isn't a cure, I do believe it will keep him going for a longer amount of time. Feel free to ask if you have specific questions!


                                • #17
                                  Is your dog painful? Such as maybe having a disc?

                                  As far as DM, as a few mentioned above...there is a test, it is not painful...and I have seen numerous dogs live several quality years with treadmill therapy, carts, other physical therapy. It's not easy and these dogs were happy and still active and playful in carts, etc.


                                  • #18
                                    I’ve known several Corgis that ended up in carts and did well for several years. They all had regular swimming, too which might be something to consider for your dog
                                    im sorry you have to deal with this


                                    • #19
                                      Originally posted by Beckham03 View Post
                                      Is your dog painful? Such as maybe having a disc?

                                      A herniated disc is one of the first things we ruled out. He isn't painful at all. This is 3rd Corgi I've had with DM (and honestly, probably the last Corgi I'll ever have.........too heartbreaking to deal with this condition)

                                      My other two weren't willing to do the cart, so I kept them mobile for as long as possible, and then let them go. :-(

                                      I'll let this guy determine how far he is willing to go.........it's all about quality of life. We are fortunate to have access to great PT, and that is definitely helping him.


                                      • #20
                                        Originally posted by Cooper View Post

                                        A herniated disc is one of the first things we ruled out. He isn't painful at all. This is 3rd Corgi I've had with DM (and honestly, probably the last Corgi I'll ever have.........too heartbreaking to deal with this condition)
                                        I am sorry about your pup. Don't give up on a breed you love! Breeders can test for DM now.