"adding years to their life
& life to their years"

Canine Degenerative Myelopathy

Canine Degenerative Myelopathy is the most common cause of progressive hind limb dysfunction in older German Shepherds. Affected dogs show a slow progressive hind limb uncoordinated swaying gait quite often with hind legs crossing. An early sign is knuckling of the hind paws especially when turning corners and dragging of the claws is also a frequent sign. A dog with DM, even in good body condition will show signs of increasing lack of muscle of the hind limbs. There is no pain associated with this condition.

Helping your dog stay mobile

Many people are using our Aussie Dog Wheelchairs which will enable your dog to remain active and maintain their quality of life once weakness or paralysis of the hind legs sets in. Most dogs take to their wheelchairs quite happily, which takes stress and strain off both the front and hind legs. Your dog can still use their hind legs as long as they are able to in our wheelchair. And yes, they can still go to the toilet in their Wheelchair. We have a range of lifting slings to assist you, and protective dog boots which are great for protecting your dogs paws from scuffing.


Exercise is necessary to maintain the dog's ability to walk. Rehabilitation may prolong the length of time that your dog remains mobile and increase survival time. Hydrotherapy in an Underwater Treadmill is useful to help restore muscle tone or swimming may be more useful than walking. A tailored Therapeutic Exercise program is also of benefit in keeping your dog as mobile as possible for as long as possible. Talk to your Vet, Animal Rehabilitation Practitioners or Animal Physiotherapists for advise.

Weight Control

You can help by keeping your dog lean. Extra weight will make symptoms worse and add more stress to joints. Exercise is easier for a dog that is not overweight. Remember - what YOU feed your dog makes them overweight. It's not all through a lack of exercise. Talk to your Vet about an appropriate diet for your dog.


The traditional Chinese art of insertion of needles into various specific points of the body (with injection of small amounts of fluid or electrical stimulation) has been shown to provide relief from acute and chronic pain. This has the advantage of having none of the side-effects of analgesic drugs. In addition, acupuncture can do no harm. In DM, acupuncture alone slows the condition, but unfortunatly does not stop the progress. On the other hand, DM patients who have concurrent arthritis may benefit from acupuncture therapy.
When to Let Go
When you feel that your dog has given up and you decide that the time has come to release him to the bridge, do not feel guilty. Many dogs will "ask" to be put down. This is a decision you and your dog will make together. You must be honest with yourself, and ask, "when does his quality of life end?" Euthanasia may be the kindest thing you can do for your dog under the circumstances. Knowing you supported and aided your dog to live his life fully in the company of someone who loved him is one of the greatest gifts we can give.

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