What is Degenerative Myelopathy (DM) in Dogs?

balto body lift brace on dog in car

How To Support My Dog with Degenerative Myelopathy (DM)?

The spinal cord is essential in your dog’s ability to convey information from the brain to the rest of the body. Think of it as the bridge that helps produce movement, feel sensation, and allows your pet to eliminate. When the spinal cord becomes damaged or diseased, it can be a heartbreaking reality for both you and your dog. Fortunately, there are bracing devices that can help your dog overcome some of the resulting limitations stemming from diseases such as Degenerative Myelopathy (DM).

What is DM?

Like Lou Gehrig’s Disease in humans, DM affects the spinal cord resulting in progressive degeneration of the white matter which is used to conduct, process, and send nerve signals. This degeneration of white matter eventually leads to weakness, ataxia, and eventually paralysis in their hind end. The disease is typically found in middle to older aged, large breed dogs. Some common signs that might indicate that your dog has DM or any spinal cord issue can include:

  • “Knuckling” – Their hind feet turn under as they walk or run.
  • Unbalanced – They appear to be unbalanced or sway when standing.
  • Falling – They seem to fall periodically without cause.
  • Dragging – They begin dragging their hind feet as they walk.
  • Weakness, Ataxia, and Paralysis – They begin losing full function of their hind end.

How is DM treated?  

Unfortunately, there are no effective treatment options for DM. However, there are bracing devices that can help support your dog’s quality of life while allowing easier mobility tactics for pet parents.

Keeping your dog mobile during the disease progression is important not only for their musculoskeletal system, but their mental health as well. The Balto Up – Rear Harness Support or the Balto Body Lift – Body Harness with Handles are both extremely practical braces for use at home, going on walks, and even rehabilitation. These braces help pets with DM achieve mobility by supporting their weight evenly, while two rigid splints provide them with the stability they require.

As DM progresses, many dogs will begin experiencing incontinence or the inability to control when they are eliminating. Both braces are designed to allow your dog to eliminate naturally without having to remove the brace every time.