Dog Index

Hello everybody!

We really need some help! Four days ago Walter started limping and now he is not able to walk anymore. He is trying, but he falls down after 3-4 steps. He doesn’t seem to feel any pain, but he can’t use his front left leg (also his back legs don’t look too good). The vet said that is a congenital problem with myelin sheath (progressive demyelination/demyelinization) and the nervous impulses don’t reach his foot. The vet said we could try some B Vitamin cure, but we should think about euthanasia.

If anyone knows something about this disease or thinks that is some other disease please tell us. Also, if you know about similar simptoms, please tell us what the diagnostic was. As you can see, we live in Romania and if you recommend some drugs, please tell us what are they based of (the active substances), otherwise maybe we will not be able to find them.

Thank you,

Dumi, Andreea & Walter.



I’m so very sorry to hear about Walter, if I’m reading your post correctly I have a friend who is currently going through this with his basset as well and although rare in this breed it is not unheard of.

Degenerative myelopathy of dogs is a slowly progressive, noninflammatory degeneration of the axons and myelin in the white matter of the spinal cord. It is most common in German Shepherd Dogs and German Shepherd crosses but is occasionally recognized in other large breeds of dogs. The cause is unknown, although genetic factors are presumed. Pathologic findings consist of noninflammatory degeneration of myelinated axons in the white matter of the spinal cord, most severe in the thoracic segments. Affected dogs are usually >5 yr old and develop an insidious onset of nonpainful hindlimb ataxia and paraparesis. Hindlimb reflexes are usually normal or exaggerated, but in ~10% of cases, patellar reflexes are depressed, reflecting involvement of lumbar dorsal nerve roots. Early cases may be confused with orthopedic disorders; however, proprioceptive deficits are an early feature of degenerative myelopathy and are not seen with orthopedic disease. Diagnosis is based on clinical features and exclusion of other causes of spinal cord disease. Myelography and CSF analysis are essential to rule out compressive and inflammatory diseases, respectively. Treatment with aminocaproic acid (500 mg, PO, t.i.d.) in conjunction with B vitamins, vitamin E, and exercise has been recommended, but benefits have not been documented by published clinical trials. The disease typically progresses, usually warranting euthanasia within 6-12 mo.

It sounds like this may be the case but I find it odd that the front leg would be effected more than the rear legs. The front leg being so effected would lead me to believe you were dealing with Intervertebral disk disease however I am NOT a veterinarian and base my opinion on past experience as a tech and my own dogs over the years.

This is a degeneration and protrusion of the intervertebral disk that results in compression of the spinal cord, spinal nerve, and/or nerve root. It is a common cause of spinal cord disease in dogs. The most common sites of disk extrusion are the cervical and thoracolumbar regions. The predominant sign of cervical disk extrusion is neck pain, manifested as cervical rigidity and muscle spasms. There may be forelimb lameness or neurologic deficits, ranging from mild tetraparesis to tetraplegia. With thoracolumbar disk extrusion, there may be back pain, evident as kyphosis and reluctance to move. Neurologic deficits are usually more severe than those seen in cervical disk disease and range from hindlimb ataxia to paraplegia and incontinence.

In checking my manual here Definitive diagnosis of disk extrusion is based on radiography and myelography. Dogs with pain and minimal to moderate neurologic deficits often recover with 2-3 wk of cage rest. A short course of prednisone (1 mg/kg/day for 3 days) is often helpful in relieving pain. The use of anti-inflammatory or analgesic medication without concurrent cage rest is contraindicated because an increase in the dog’s activity may predispose to further disk extrusion and worsening of spinal cord compression. Clinical signs recur after conservative therapy in 30-40% of cases.

In animals with severe neurologic deficits, methylprednisolone sodium succinate may improve recovery of severe spinal cord injuries if given within 8 hr of injury. Medical therapy, however, is not a substitute for surgery, which should be performed promptly to decompress the spinal cord in animals with substantial neurologic deficits. Other indications for surgery are failure of conservative therapy and recurrent episodes. The prognosis is good for dogs with intact deep pain perception that are treated surgically. If surgery is performed within 24 hr of the loss of deep pain perception, the chance of recovery is ~50%. If surgery is delayed for >48 hours after deep pain perception is lost, the prognosis is poor. Progressive myelomalacia develops in a small percentage of dogs with paraplegia and loss of deep pain perception caused by acute disk extrusion.

Have you made contact with an orthopedic specialist in your area? If your able to get your boy to a specialist to confirm or deny your vets findings would be ideal. I’m in no way saying that your vet is wrong in his or her findings but know that if it were me I would want to get at least a second opinion before proceeding any further.

I’ll keep Walter and your family in my prayers and please keep us updated on his condition.

Best wishes


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