|Watch out world!|
For the past few years- we've noticed and remarked on Athena's back leg issues. As it's been documented here, we've been aware of her weak legs and possible contributing factors.
Last November, when she began having the severely noticeable issues, we took her to the vet. He took x-rays and determined she has severe arthritis AND her knees and hips are shot. Again, not surprising as again this goes along with her suspected history.
She's been on meds, soon going on a year. She has some really good days and some really bad days. We have talked about getting her wheels for the past 6 months. FINALLY she received them on Friday.
While there has been some slow "realization" of what she can do in them, she's quickly learning. She got to play with her siblings in the back yard yesterday. She's going to enjoy being able to be part of the pack again.
HOWEVER, this morning I found some very sad, yet not surprising news. In trying to research how long she can safely be in the wheels, I stumbled on some not so surprising, but sad information.
"Degenerative myelopathy is a progressive disease of the spinal cord in older dogs. 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."
The pictures associated with this disease are what caught my attention initially. They were a perfect representation of Athena.
EVERY SINGLE description of this disease's symptoms are Athena.
I'm not saying the vet misdiagnosed her. We took her immediately when she began having issues and with her history of weak legs. She does have arthritis. What we didn't have was all the "symptoms" yet.
Unfortunately breeds affected by this disease
How do we treat degenerative myelopathy?
There are no treatments that have been clearly shown to stop or slow progression of DM. Although there are a number of approaches that have been tried or recommended on the internet, no scientific evidence exists that they work. The outlook for a dog with DM is still grave. The discovery of a gene that identifies dogs at risk for developing degenerative myelopathy could pave the way for therapeutic trials to prevent the disease from developing. Meanwhile, the quality of life of an affected dog can be improved by measures such as good nursing care, physical rehabilitation, pressure sore prevention, monitoring for urinary infections, and ways to increase mobility through use of harnesses and carts.