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What is Degenerative Myelopathy?

Canine degenerative myelopathy (DM) has been recognized for over 35 years. It’s a spontaneously occurring, adult-onset, spinal-cord disorder affecting dogs. Degenerative myelopathy, which is also known as chronic degenerative radiculomyelopathy (CDRM), is characterized by clinical signs of slowly progressive hind-limb weakness and paralysis. The symptoms are caused by the oxidative damage to and degeneration of the Schwann cells in the white matter of the spinal cord. This degeneration causes interference with both motor and sensory function of the white matter.


The image above shows a horizontal transection of the spinal cord indicating the areas of white and grey matter.


DM is similar to some forms of human amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), more commonly known as Lou Gehrig’s Disease. One of the first breeds in which the disease was diagnosed was the German Shepherd, so DM has also been called German Shepherd Dog Degenerative Myelopathy. In the early...

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How to Pick Out Large Dog Beds for Large Breed Dogs

We typically only think about bedding systems when our pet is getting older and we want to make them more comfortable in their old age. We need to be thinking about a comfortable, supportive bed when our pet is young and continue to do so all through its life.

A dog has a special relationship with its bed, and it often spends much of its day as well as all of its night in its personal sleeping area. For this reason, it’s important to have a bed that not only the dog loves but that enhances its health and longevity.

If you live with a large-breed dog, you may struggle to find a suitable dog bed. Large-breed dogs need beds that are supportive, comfortable, and easy to get in and out of.

There are numerous options for dog beds out there to choose from, including foam, synthetic cushion, memory foam, air beds, orthopedic foam, hammock style, and many more. But how do you know which of these is right for your large-breed dog?

Support is the Number-one Consideration in a Large-breed...

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Predisposing Factors that can lead to CCL Disease

The following are the primary predisposing factors that can lead to cranial cruciate ligament disease or injury:

  • Large breed
  • Gender
  • Early neutering
  • Overweight
  • Age
  • Poor fitness
  • Athletic
  • Immune-mediated
  • Synovitis
  • Conformation (skeletal shape)

The cranial cruciate ligament is one of the most important stabilizers inside the stifle joint, and rupture of the CCL is one of the most common reasons for hind-limb lameness in our patients. There are a number of predisposing factors for CCL disease and rupture. The first is breed size. Larger-breed dogs are more susceptible to CCL disease than smaller-breed dogs. Another factor is gender. There's a difference in incidence of CCL disease between males and females. Early neutering also predisposes dogs to CCL injuries. Age is another factor, because ligaments become more fragile as the dog gets older. Overweight and poor fitness are also contributors. Dogs involved in athletic competitions are vulnerable to CCL injuries. Conformation is also a...

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The Relationship Between High-Impact Exercise and Osteochondritis

Findings from a study on hip dysplasia and elbow arthrosis in Labrador Retrievers [Sallander, Hedhammer, and Trogen: J Nutr July 2006: 136(7 suppl):2050S-2052S] support the hypothesis that high-impact exercise such as ball chasing and fetching can lead to a higher incidence of osteochondrosis dissecans (OCD) lesions. OCD is an inflammation of the cartilage on the end of a bone in the joint that causes the cartilage to separate from the underlying bone (creating a lesion). This disease occurs during the rapid growth period (ages six to nine months) in medium- to large-breed dogs.

Although we know our patients like to play fetch and our clients use this activity as a way to burn off energy, this high-impact exercise isn’t good for puppies.

This study looked at two groups of puppies—those six months of age and those that were nine months. Puppies in each group were of the same size and were fed the same kind and amount of food. The only difference was the amount of...

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Which Dog Breeds are Most Susceptible to Joint Problems?

Joint problems are unfortunately common in dogs as they grow older, especially those that were not bred by respected and capable breeders. For some dogs these issues are only a minor nuisance. For others, however, these problems can get to the point where, over time, they become nearly incapable of performing any type of physical activity.

Dogs who suffer from osteoarthritis will experience varying levels of pain and inflammation around their joints through out their lives. Larger, heavier breeds of dogs in particular are more likely to suffer from this condition. As we see more and more disease of over nutrition, this can be a big problem for larger breed puppies as their bones can grow more quickly that their bodies and they are more likely to participate in more intense physical activity at a early age before there joint shave stopped developing. These are two big factors that influence osteoarthritis development later on in life.

Here are the top ten breeds of dogs (in no...

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Weight Loss Tips to Help Get Your Dog Get Healthy Again

One of the most common causes of conditions like osteoarthritis in pets is obesity. If your pet is over weight this includes cats as well you are putting your pet at risk of developing joint disease latter on in their lives.

There are a number of treatment options available to you, but as long as your pet is overweight, there is a real and high probability of them developing joint and bone problems.

Some of these tips to get your pet back to a health weight could include:

  • Cut back on the amount of food given to the dog. Just like in humans, too many calories without enough exercise means weight gain. Therefore, one of the first steps in reducing the pets’s weight should be reducing caloric intake. Chances are, your pet does not need as much food as you thinks they do. In fact, most of the popular commercial dog foods are full of filler ingredients that lead to more calories but don’t have a whole lot of nutritional value. You might think about not only reducing the...
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The Most Common Indicators of Osteoarthritis in Dogs and Cats

Most Common Indicators in Dogs:

Osteoarthritis in dogs is typically much more obvious than in cats. We see our patients limping, having difficulty walking, or there is visible stiffness in the legs when getting up. This stiffness is often resolved with mild to moderate activity and worsens after rest. We also hear from our clients that our patient is having difficulty going up or down stairs. Difficulty going up stairs indicates osteoarthritis is present in the hind limbs, and difficulty going down stairs suggests osteoarthritis in the forelimbs.

The Most Common Indicators in Cats:

Let’s talk about our feline patients specifically for a moment. One of the first indicators of osteoarthritis in cats is difficulty getting into the litter box. Another sign is urinating or defecating outside but near the litter box. An unwillingness to jump or obvious trouble in doing so is another symptom. Most owners just call this “old age.”

Pain and disability in cats is more...

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