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Dr. Kara
Dr. Kara, Veterinarian
Category: Dog Veterinary
Satisfied Customers: 14868
Experience:  Over 20 years of experience as a veterinarian.
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I have a 10 year old female airedale - 70 lbs in weight

Customer Question

I have a 10 year old female airedale - 70 lbs in weight (rescued her when she was 7) she has all the symptoms of canine degenrative myelopathy - is losing all coordination in her back legs - started 3-4 months ago with with right hind leg but now is affecting
both hind legs and she keeps collapsing onto the floor - our vet has her on inflammation/steroid medicine and we now have her in a harness to help lift her hind quarters when she needs it. If there anything else we can do, medication etc and also what is the
best equipment for her if she needs a "wheeled cradle" to assist her with walking when her legs are not long able to support her at all. c
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: Dog Veterinary
Expert:  Dr. Kara replied 1 year ago.
Hello, my name is***** and I have over 20 years of experience as a veterinarian. I am sorry to hear that your girl has progressive ascending rear limb weakness which makes you concerned about DM (degenerative myelopathy).Airedales are not one of the top breeds (German Shepherd, Corgi, Boxer, Rhodesian Ridgeback, Chesapeake Bay Retriever) that we see DM in, so it is less likely, but any breed can have some incidences of the disease.The length of time that she has had symptoms and the speed of degeneration will also help point toward DM as a cause or not. Most dogs with DM have significant progression of symptoms such that a year after initial symptoms are noticed they really cannot get around at all and the front legs are starting to be affected. Most owners choose humane euthanasia at that point.If she had had trouble for years with very slow progression DM is less likely, but it sounds like in her case this has been a rapid change over the last 3-4 months, which makes DM possible.I would recommend testing her for the disease because ideally we want to be sure of her diagnosis so we know that she cannot be helped. If you want to test her for the disease there is a blood test available which is pretty accurate. Here is a link to a website which will give you information about how to get her tested:http://www.offa.org/dnatesting/dm.htmlIn short most old dogs don't have DM, they have usually have IVDD, and some have spinal, hip or knee arthritis to the extent that they are stiff and don't want to move. Does she have any radiographic changes consistent with arthritis?Has she improved at all with anti-inflammatories? If so DM is less likely. Unfortunately if this is DM then there are no effective therapies available, so I try very hard to look for other disease processes that are treatable.Some owners do purchase wheel chairs for their pups. This prevents then from traumatizing their rear legs as they are falling and trying to get around. Many dogs do very well with them, especially once they learn how much freedom they regain with them.Here are some links to some sources:http://www.handicappedpets.com/adjustable-dog-wheelchair.html?gclid=CLnvuqbPpMYCFQuFaQodx4AAqAhttp://www.k9carts.com/Please let me know if you have any further questions.