Youngest known age for Degenerative Myelopathy (DM) ?

Hi, I have a 4 year old Corgi whose rear legs occasionally slip or 'kick out' when he walks, only on slippery surfaces like hardwood floors. This started right after a two week period of intense exercise. Prior to that he had no problems. I've been to our vet, and another for a 2nd opinion. I now have another appointment set up with a neurologist about an hour away, and may do an MRI if he feels it is needed.

What bothers me is that both my vet and the neurologist (via phone) both said "this could very well be DM". I'm actually hoping it is "only" a disc problem.

He had just turned 4 when these problems started. If it is DM isn't that a very young age to get it? Or has anyone heard of a Corgi getting DM at this early age?

The other problem that is really scaring me is that when we palpate his spine from head to rump he really doesn't react with a pain response. I thought that if he had a disc problem he would show obvious signs of pain when his back was manipulated. Or, has anyone had a Corgi with a disc problem that had hind leg weakness/slipping -- with no obvious signs of pain? I do have him on gluclosamine/MSM which is an anti-inflammatory (and may be helping?)

I haven't gotten a good night sleep in weeks; I'm really worried. Any shared experiences would be greatly appreciated.


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I hope you get good answers for your dog soon!

My understanding of DM is it would be very unusual for onset to occur before the age of 8. There is a great podcast that someone linked to on my thread about genetic testing for DM; you can find it in the "Corgi Health" threads.
Thanks for the replies, Beth and Bobbie. Bobbie, I'm clinging to the hope (fact...I'll take fact :-) that at age 4 it's practically impossible to be DM. Also, he is not dragging his rear feet at all -- no strange nail wear -- which might be some further comfort against DM (?) He also places his feet correctly on the ground, they just slip out to the back once in awhile :-(

Since I last posted, I tried again palpating along his spine, but this time I did it when holding him over my shoulder, paws over my back and my arm under his rump. I wasn't "digging" in, but pushing with some force along his spine. I'm getting a definite reaction out of him (like "whoa, what are you doing back there??"), along with a muscle spasm along his entire rear end when I get to the the spot right where the thoracic vertebra transition to lumbar (about mid-back).

So, I really hope this is "only" a disc issue and not something more insidious. Neurologist appointment is Monday...he may order a same-day MRI while we are there.

Kind of funny in a weird way...I'm sleepless and have lost 10 pounds over the last couple of weeks (stress) over this...and Teddy Bear is as happy as a clam, eating like a horse and sleeps like a baby. I guess that's one good thing; it would be much worse if he were suffering. the DM "cheek swab" test something I can ask the neurologist to perform, or is it a special kit I have to send away for?
Christopher, in the meantime, crate rest and reduced activity are in order. The area you mention is classic for disc. Healing prayers that your boy up and at 'em soon.
Keep us updated...our thoughts are with you!
Just got back from the neurologist -- good news. Dr. Berg examined Teddy Bear, carefully reviewed the notes I had typed up, and concluded that there is a "99 percent chance" that Teddy has some sort of vertebra issue in his neck, and that it is very mild. I didn't try to sway him one way or another on the MRI, but Dr. Berg said it really wasn't even worthwhile doing an MRI right now because with the degree of symptoms he is seeing even if MRI showed something there is no way he'd recommend surgery at this time.

I had thought that it might just be a back issue, but Dr. Berg said if all four paws are involved (he is tripping over his front paws once in awhile, and his front nails are dragging, showing topside nail wear) then unless he has two separate problems (unlikely) then it's much more likely stemming exclusively from his neck.

Part of the exam was checking his gait, where I'd briskly walk him down a tiled hallway and turn him quickly at the end. When we did this test at our vet's office a month ago Teddy was all over the floor in the turns. Today, he navigated the turns without slipping -- another indication that he is improving, not degrading. Also, Dr. Berg knuckled his paws under, and Teddy put them the right way immediately. Again, a month ago at the vet's, his rear left foot was "lazy" in returning to normal position, so this was good news.

Dr. Berg said there could be some "waxing and waning" of symptoms and he might be having a good day today, so we need to assess his progress over a few more weeks. If things get worse over time we'll bring him back...but I feel a LOT better now that things will most likely get better.

Thanks again for listening, and all your kind thoughts and your prayers.
That's great news Chris!
This IS indeed good news. I had a female recently with the same issue but she was NOT exhibiting the neuorolgical symptoms you describe. She would scream in pain when she tried to move in a circle or turn. Steriods and crate rest have brought her back but we are very careful not to let her jump up and down on things. It's hard as she is a very athletic girl.

Sometimes, a less expensive x-ray will show narrowing at a vertebrae which might be causing the problem, as well.
Good point, Kathleen. If he goes at all in the other direction, we'll definitely be back to the neurologist for diagnostics.

Gosh I don't know which would be scarier -- my dog limping/slipping or screaming in pain. I think the screaming would be worse. This is my first dog ever and I had no idea how complex they can be!

My prior parenting experiences have been with kids (who at least can usually tell you what's bothering them) and a cactus plant, which we didn't know was dead until about a year after it had died...
So glad for the both of you!!!!!! Hope you can get some sleep!
Chris I have a rescue girl. Got her at 4 years old she's a great herder, a perfectionist in obedience. She's a big girl weighed 47 lbs when I got her so naturally we are into diet.

I noticed she was what I termed thick around her neck, kept asking questions and she wasn't losing weight. It was suggested thyroid. I called vets all around found one who said they sent the test to Michigan but when we arrived on the table that day, nope they use another lab so that $ was wasted although the report came back negative.

She did lose weight I had been walking her 4 miles every other day. We walked with 5 other dogs. On the way out she was leader of the pack. On the way back I thought she was tired, maybe knew we were going home, she was bringing up the rear. She always slept on the way home and when I'd get her out of the car sometimes her rear legs were like rubber.

In July 2007 we had just come out of the pool and Lucy is limping on her left rear leg. Having been there with a DM dog I thought OMG. Here we go again. Off to running the vet circuit. Multiple tests you name it she had it. By now one couldn't figure out if it was the front leg, the back leg or where. I left her with the one vet for a day for observation. The diagnosis, this giirl is playing you. Meanwhile she's geting worse. Now she can't do two steps.

We live in a remote area and the only acupuncturist I knew of was traveling. She had Visited Casey my DM boy once. When he couldn't take the chinese medicine she never returned. Thgouth Lynda McKee I found Chi Institute. Holy cow there's one here 12 miles away. It was now around Christmas. We were waiting for one more thyroid test. I did not think it was thyroid so I went ahead scheduling her for acupuncture. He told me up front he didn't know if this was going to work but she had 2 treatments and I saw minor improvement. and he suggested a neurologist.

The best $168. I ever spent. He told me Lucy had been towing her rear end for a long time. This wasn't sudden but he wanted to operate both shoulders, a disk in the back, a joint in the left rear leg and maybe a ligament but needed an MRI to confirm. I knew an MRI was $2000+ multiple operations sheesh even if the operations were successful she'd be healing for the rest of her life.

. We went right back to acupuncture that same week, she had really bloody diarehea at the vets office. It was the Chinese Medicine. I took her off that and continued the acupuncture treatments. He taught me how to massage her, did that 3 times a day, gentle walks and I had in my head if anything would cure this girl it would be pau-d-arco.

I did notice the acupuncture vet had an herb chart pau-d-arco is listed with the most checks behind it red clover was next and I also knew NOW after losing my DM boy when I had Lyme Disease (I couldn't walk for 3 months) I took pau-d-arco when the doctor said yea, it usually hits the knees first. and looked out the window. One day I was out in the driveway going for the mail when I realized I was walking. It startled me so much I leaned against the car. Thinking back I was on it 3 months. Casey walked one night like a normal dog and yes that was 3 months also. I was not about to make the same mistake with Lucy.

By January she was down attempting the seal walk & even that wasn't going very well. . I got the wheel carts out and dusted them off. Little by little she improved. I can not tell you how excited I was to see her attempt to scoot her foot after relieving herself. I carry her up and down the stairs, still do today yet. I got a stroller (a double now since Cory just likes to ride). and we used it for a year. I had to put the weight back on her, no problem she likes to eat. rebuild her muscle mass in the rear end since when she lost weight she lost it all in the rear end. By Easter I took the runner rugs up. You should see her today. She 9 years old now can do a full flight of stairs, she romps and plays with the other two. WE had yet one more miracle with the pau-d-arco. Most things improve with it in 3 days or are gone. Anything to do with walking takes 3 months. Don't ask me why 3's keep showing up. It's not costly. The most I paid for it was $7.95 for 100 capsules. The dogs get 1/2 cap a day. Lucy never had ANY operations. She's healed. ,
That's wonderful news! Please keep us posted on Teddy!


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