Degenerative Myelopathy (DM) is one of the most devastating disorders of the spinal cord diagnosed in dogs. It can strike between 5 – 14 years of age. DM is an autoimmune disease. It slowly attacks a dog’s central nervous system by killing off the outer protective coating of the spine called myelin. Without myelin, nerves are unable to communicate with the brain to control movement. Dogs become paralyzed in the hind end within 6 months to 1 year. Eventually the disease progresses to the front limbs and organs.
Until a few years ago, there wasn’t much a veterinarian could offer in the way of treatment. I know this from personal experience when Sophie became paralyzed. Today Degenerative Myelopathy dogs have new options thanks to researchers who have dedicated their careers to studying the disorder.
R.M. Clemmons, DVM, PhD is one of these heroes. Before his retirement as Associate Professor of Neurology & Neurosurgery at the University of Florida, Gainesville, Dr. Clemmons worked with DM dogs for more than a decade. His research led to the development of a four-tier plan to manage symptoms and slow the progression of DM. [Read more…]