Pugs, Kerry Blue Terriers, Chesapeake Bay Retrievers, Welsh Corgis, the Borzoi, Boxers, the Bernese mountain dog, the American Water Spaniel and, above all, the German Shepherd Dog have a predisposition to this neurological disease.
Degenerative Myelopathy is a disease of the spinal cord, specifically the myelin sheath that covers the nerve fibers. Nobody knows why, but, the myelin sheath degenerates over time, making it impossible for the signals from the brain to reach the nerves.
Without the brain’s direction, the limbs that those nerves are assigned to control become paralyzed and the dog loses the ability to control them. DM usually starts in a dog’s back end and the degeneration process slowly moves its way toward the head.
Degenerative Myelopathy is not painful for dogs, but it is a painful condition to witness. There is no cure. A dog with this condition eventually becomes completely paralyzed. Caring for a dog with DM can be very labor intense for pet parents. Because the deterioration is gradual, the decisions about when the quality of life has deteriorated are difficult.