This story was updated October 2018.
Have you heard of Degenerative Myelopathy? It’s a progressive neurological disease in dogs caused by the degeneration of the spinal cord. It is similar to ALS (Lou Gehrig’s disease) in people. DM most often strikes dogs between the ages of 8-14. The symptoms begin with a loss of coordination and weakness in the hind limbs. That progresses to paralysis in the back legs and eventually the disease moves to the front limbs and respiratory system. Dogs typically pass away after 2-3 years, although some live as long as 5 years.
I was introduced to DM because it was one of the first conditions my dog Sophie was tested for when she began to lose her balance and drag her hind legs. She had a DNA test for the disease, but it came back inconclusive.
Another dog wasn’t as lucky. Bundas had a DNA test after he showed the early symptoms of Degenerative Myelopathy. Komondors aren’t listed as one of the breeds prone to the condition, but the DNA test for Bundas proved otherwise. The diagnosis sent shock waves to his owners and other Komondor breeders. It began a personal crusade by his pet mom to wipeout the illness from the breed.