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Q  Our veterinarian just told us that our lab has degenerative myelopathy.  She gave him glucosamine, 500mg. twice a day because he probably has arthritis too.
I read that degenerative myelopathy might be caused by a disc problem and was wondering if this could be the cause of his tripping rather than the DM I just want to know that I am doing everything I can for my dog. Please advise. Thank you.

A: Canine degenerative myelopathy is a degenerative disease of unknown cause that occasionally affects the lower spinal cord in older dogs.  German Shepherd dogs are the most common breed affected and the average age of onset is about nine years.  Signs seen in affected dogs are those of progressive hind limb weakness that may initially manifest as dragging of the nails of the hind feet when walking.  Other neurologic and orthopedic disorders that can mimic the signs of degenerative myelopathy include intervertebral disc disease, tumors of the spinal cord, degenerative lumbosacral stenosis, and advanced hip dysplasia.  Unfortunately, there are no specific tests for degenerative myelopathy.  A good neurologic examination as well as other tests such as electromyography (EMG), magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), and spinal fluid analysis can be used to help rule out the other possible cause of the symptoms noted.  A number of drugs and dietary supplements have been advocated for the treatment of degenerative myelopathy.  There are, however, no treatments that have, as yet, been proven to be effective.

The most commonly sited dosage for glucosamine in the dog is 20mg per pound once daily.

Arthur A. Fettig, DVM, Diplomate, ACVS

Dr. Fettig received his DVM from Purdue University. He completed a general internship at the University of Georgia Veterinary Teaching Hospital, and completed a small animal surgery residency at Tufts University School of Veterinary Medicine. Dr. Fettig is a Diplomate of the American College of Veterinary Surgeons. Dr. Fettig is proficient in general and orthopedic surgery. He also enjoys spending his free time with his wife Pam who is also a veterinarian. They share their home with their dog Rhiannon and their three cats, Asti, Tim and Curtis.