Degenerative Myelopathy (DM) is one of the most devastating neurological disorders in dogs. It’s a progressive disease caused by the breakdown of the spinal cord. It most often strikes dogs between the ages of 8 – 14, but dogs as young as 5 years-old have been diagnosed as well.
DM is an autoimmune disease that slowly attacks a dog’s central nervous system by killing off the protective coating of the spine called myelin. Without myelin, nerves are unable to communicate with the part of the brain that controls movement.
Dogs become paralyzed in the hind end within 6 months to 1 year. Eventually the paralysis moves to the front limbs and respiratory system.
Until a few years ago, there wasn’t much a veterinarian could offer in the way of treatment. Today Degenerative Myelopathy dogs have new options thanks to researchers who have dedicated their careers to studying the disease.
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…]