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When to Euthanize a Dog With DM? – 2024 Guide

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As a dog owner, you always want the best for your pup. But unfortunately, it’s not always possible to keep them healthy and strong. Sometimes they may be diagnosed with canine degenerative myelopathy (DM). DM is an incurable disease that affects the spinal cord in dogs, leading to progressive muscle weakness and loss of coordination.

We know how hard it can be when deciding if you should put down your beloved pet due to their condition. However, understanding more about this particular illness will help guide you through this difficult decision-making process.

In our article When To Euthanize A Dog With DM? – 2021 Guide, we discuss the signs and symptoms of canine degenerative myelopathy (DM), treatments available for dogs with DM, as well as what products are beneficial when managing the progression of DM.

We also provide a compassionate explanation on how and when one should consider euthanizing their furry friend suffering from Degenerative Myelopathy so they don’t have to suffer needlessly anymore.

Key Takeaways

Canine Degenerative Myelopathy When to Euthanize

  • Canine degenerative myelopathy (DM) is an incurable disease that affects the spinal cord in dogs, resulting in progressive muscle weakness and loss of coordination.
  • Euthanasia may become an option when the dog’s mobility ceases completely despite treatment efforts.
  • Early detection is crucial, as DM progresses rapidly.
  • When making decisions about euthanasia or continuing treatment options, the quality of life should be taken into consideration.

What is Degenerative Myelopathy?

What is Degenerative Myelopathy?
Are you wondering what degenerative myelopathy is and how it affects dogs? Degenerative myelopathy is a progressive condition that causes the white matter in the spinal cord to break down. It can affect any breed of dog but tends to be more common in certain breeds. Diagnosis typically occurs around 8-10 years old, though symptoms may go unnoticed until later stages of the disease.

In this article, we will discuss its causes, symptoms, which breeds are most affected by DM, and diagnosis options for your pet.

Causes of Degenerative Myelopathy in Dogs

The cause of degenerative myelopathy in dogs is unknown, however, it typically affects senior pups and can progress to a point where you may need to consider euthanizing your beloved pet.

It can occur in any breed, although German Shepherds appear particularly susceptible. Symptoms generally begin with hind leg weakness and difficulty standing or walking but eventually lead to loss of bladder control and paralysis.

Diagnosis involves ruling out other causes such as spinal trauma or disc disease through physical exams, lab tests, x-rays, MRIs, or CT scans before making the final diagnosis.

Treatment usually consists of providing supportive care while addressing secondary conditions like urinary tract infections that could exacerbate symptoms. Unfortunately, there is no cure for canine degenerative myelopathy, so euthanasia may become an option when the dog’s mobility stops completely despite treatment efforts.

Common Symptoms of Degenerative Myelopathy in Dogs

You may notice that your beloved pet starts to show signs of difficulty standing or walking, which could be a sign of degenerative myelopathy. This condition affects the white matter in the spinal cord and can cause paralysis of the hind legs and urinary incontinence.

Diagnosing DM involves physical exams, lab tests, x-rays, MRIs, or CT scans, as well as ruling out other causes such as hip dysplasia or disc disease. Treatments available include supportive care while addressing any secondary conditions like UTIs, but there is no cure for canine degenerative myelopathy, so euthanasia becomes an option when mobility stops completely despite treatment efforts.

Dog breeds vary in susceptibility to this gene mutation, but coping with it emotionally is tough regardless – seek veterinary advice on how best to handle it, including possible euthanasia process if necessary.

Dog Breeds Most Affected by DM

Certain breeds of dogs are more prone to developing DM than others. For example, German Shepherds have a one-in-four chance of carrying the gene mutation responsible. To help manage the illness, dog genetic testing can be done. Supportive care and nutrition advice are vital.

Lifestyle changes may also improve quality of life. Emotional support should not be overlooked. Other affected breeds include Bernese Mountain Dogs and Golden Retrievers. UCDavis Veterinary Medicine offers resources for those struggling with this devastating diagnosis.

With proper management, it’s possible to extend your pet’s mobility despite DM. Seek veterinary advice on how best to handle it, including the possible euthanasia process if necessary.

Degenerative Myelopathy Diagnosis

Knowing the signs and symptoms of DM can help you diagnose it in your dog. Early detection is key, as this degenerative condition progresses quickly. Symptoms may include muscle weakness or loss, difficulty getting up after lying down for an extended period of time, poor coordination or balance issues, and eventually paralysis.

It’s important to get a thorough examination from your dog’s vet if any concerning behavior arises. They will be able to make an accurate diagnosis with testing such as blood work and MRI scans that look at the spinal cord for abnormalities associated with this disease.

Treatment options are limited, but regular checkups can provide insight into how quickly DM is progressing by monitoring changes in mobility over time. This way, you’ll know when euthanasia might become necessary given the severity of symptoms present on each visit to their vet’s office.

Is Degenerative Myelopathy Painful?

Is Degenerative Myelopathy Painful?
Degenerative myelopathy can be a difficult condition to cope with for both owners and dogs. Even though the disease isn’t painful, its effects on mobility are life-altering and heartbreaking.

The progression of symptoms will depend on the stage of the disease, as well as your dog’s breed, quality of care, age at diagnosis, and other factors. As their condition worsens over time, it is important to consider your dog’s quality of life when making decisions about euthanasia or continuing treatment options such as physical therapy or medications.

While there isn’t an easy answer when it comes to deciding whether to euthanize a pet with degenerative myelopathy, you don’t have to make this decision alone. Support groups exist online where owners facing similar situations come together for advice from each other regarding coping strategies during this difficult period in their journey with their beloved companion animal.

It may also be helpful to seek veterinary guidance throughout these tough times as they can provide insight into what constitutes good quality living for pets affected by DM. This way, owners are better able to make informed decisions that balance compassion towards their pet’s welfare while honoring all aspects involved within end-of-life considerations.

How Fast Does Canine Degenerative Myelopathy Progress in Dogs?

How Fast Does Canine Degenerative Myelopathy Progress in Dogs?
It’s important to be aware of how quickly your pup’s condition can progress, as the speed at which DM advances will vary from dog to dog. Factors such as lifestyle changes and managing symptoms can help slow the disease’s progression.

Additionally, quality of life should be taken into consideration when making decisions about euthanasia or continuing treatment options for a pet with canine degenerative myelopathy (DM).

It is essential to seek veterinary advice throughout this period in order to make an informed decision that honors both compassion towards their pet’s welfare and all aspects involved within end-of-life considerations.

  • Symptoms may start off with hind limb weakness but could eventually lead up to complete paralysis.
  • The exact cause of DM is still being researched by the Orthopedic Foundation for Animals (OFA).
  • Studies have also suggested possible environmental factors behind its development.
  • Some dogs may live 6 months while others 3 years depending on stage and symptoms experienced by each individual pooch affected by this debilitating illness.

Understanding these facts helps owners cope better during tough times like deciding whether or not it is time for euthanasia; ultimately giving them more control over what happens next in their journey together with their beloved companion animal.

What is the Best Cure for Canine Degenerative Myelopathy?

What is the Best Cure for Canine Degenerative Myelopathy?
As a pet owner, you may feel overwhelmed and helpless when faced with the difficult decision of whether or not to euthanize your dog who’s suffering from canine degenerative myelopathy (DM). There’s no cure for DM, but there are treatments available that can help manage symptoms and slow down its progression.

Additionally, it’s important to understand how dog euthanasia works so that you can make an informed decision about this painful experience. Let’s take a closer look at these topics to better comprehend what lies ahead on your journey together with your beloved companion animal.

Treatments Available for Dogs With Degenerative Myelopathy

Although the condition is ultimately fatal, you can provide your pup with extra comfort and care by exploring treatments available for dogs with degenerative myelopathy.

Physical therapy, diet changes, medications, and exercise regimens are all forms of treatment that may help to slow down the progression of DM in some cases.

Veterinary care will be necessary as well to determine what type of treatment plan best suits your dog’s breed and particular case of DM.

Depending on the severity, different combinations or levels could be more effective than others at providing relief from symptoms associated with this disease.

Finding which options offer a balance between quality-of-life versus prolonging life can often prove difficult; however, seeking out professional advice may lead owners towards finding an effective treatment option that will give their pet its best chance at living comfortably until it’s time to say goodbye – making sure every moment spent together counts!

How Does Dog Euthanasia Work?

Deciding when to euthanize your beloved pet can be an emotionally charged decision, so understanding how the process works is important. It involves making difficult decisions based on a definitive cause of death and progressive severity of symptoms, as well as providing emotional support in their final moments.

Seeking advice from veterinarians to help cope with this tough decision is recommended for those who may need additional guidance or coping strategies due to difficulty breathing or other painful conditions associated with degenerative myelopathy.

Owners should also consider their own feelings towards the situation before deciding what’s best for their pet. Ensuring they have all necessary information and resources available will go a long way in helping them make an informed choice that honors both themselves and their furry companion during these trying times.

When Should You Put a Dog Down With Degenerative Myelopathy?

When Should You Put a Dog Down With Degenerative Myelopathy?
As you watch your beloved pup gradually lose their mobility due to degenerative myelopathy, the heartbreaking decision of when to euthanize can be overwhelming. It is important to take into consideration many factors and seek veterinary advice before deciding on this course of action.

The process involves careful decision making regarding the quality of life balance and coping strategies for both pet owners and support networks available at such a difficult time. Euthanasia should only be considered once other treatments have been tried with no success or if the pup has reached a point where they are suffering too much from lack of mobility or pain associated with pug myelopathy, German Shepherd dog diseases, or general age-related health issues like decreased energy levels and loss of appetite leading up to an overall decrease in life expectancy for dogs affected by degenerative myelopathy.

Ultimately, it is best left up to personal judgment whether or not euthanasia would benefit the animal’s quality of life more than any other option available. However, seeking professional help is always advised prior to reaching any kind of decision about putting down your cherished family member who has been partaking in all sorts of wonderful memories throughout their lifetime together with you.

Top 4 Products for Canine Degenerative Myelopathy

Tending for a beloved pet with canine degenerative myelopathy can be difficult, but there are several products that can help make their life more comfortable.

The Lightweight Dog Wheelchair 9-22lbs provides adjustable harnesses and push-button adjustability to grant relief for mobility issues.

The Coolaroo Dog Bed, Medium, Terracotta offers breathable fabric to relieve joint pressure points, and its non-skid bottom adds extra safety.

Additionally, the Personalized Pet Memory Box is a beautiful way of honoring your pet even after they’re gone.

The Pet Memorial Paw Necklace provides an elegant cremation urn pendant that will keep them close at heart forever.

Lightweight Dog Wheelchair 9-22lbs

SYLPHID Adjustable Dog Wheelchair forView On Amazon
You can help your pup with mobility issues due to degenerative myelopathy by investing in a lightweight aluminum wheelchair designed for small dogs weighing 8-22 lbs. This adjustable, durable frame has adjustable harnesses for optimal comfort and mobility, along with push-button adjustability in height, length, and width.

Customers have found it to be an effective tool that is easy to assemble as well.

  • Affordable option
  • Easy assembly
  • Adjustable harnesses provide comfort and mobility
  • Not suitable if the dog cannot sit or lie down
  • Wobbly on certain surfaces
  • Can’t fit through a pet door

Coolaroo Dog Bed, Medium, Terracotta

Coolaroo The Original Cooling ElevatedView On Amazon
For a pet bed that provides comfort and support, look no further than the Coolaroo Dog Bed – over 80% of buyers have given it five stars! Crafted from premium-grade stainless steel with breathable fabric, this medium-sized terracotta cooling bed relieves joint pressure points while being easy to clean.

The lightweight design is perfect for travel, and its eco-friendly material is 100% recyclable. With non-skid bottoms and odor control features, you can rest assured your pup will be safe in their new home away from home! Its UV-resistant construction ensures lasting durability as well as providing a stylish addition to any room.

For medium breed dogs looking for an upgrade in sleep quality or extra cushioning due to degenerative myelopathy, the Coolaroo Dog Bed is sure to provide just what they need.

  • Affordable option
  • Easy assembly
  • Adjustable harnesses provide comfort & mobility
  • Eco-friendly & 100% recyclable fabric
  • Portable & lightweight for travel
  • Non-skid bottom & odor control feature
  • UV-resistant construction
  • Height may be a concern for dogs with mobility issues
  • Fabric uncomfortable without a blanket
  • Assembly challenging even for skilled people

Personalized Pet Memory Box

Personalized Pet Memory Box UrnView On Amazon
Honor and remember your beloved pet with this personalized pet memory box, crafted from walnut wood for a timeless look. It features a lock and key set for added security that can hold the ashes of pets up to 180 lbs.

The secure screw and rubber gasket provide extra protection while allowing you to store mementos such as haircuts or baby teeth inside.

With an engraving option available, you can also customize the box with photos printed directly onto the wood or switch it out for different pictures! This beautiful yet practical piece is perfect if you’re looking for something special to honor your furry friend’s memory – priced at $95.

Small details like quality are important considerations when making this purchase.

Whether used as an urn or simply a keepsake holder, this meaningful gift will be treasured forever by both yourself and those who knew them best.

  • Secure design prevents access by small hands
  • Well-crafted & beautiful
  • Generous size allows placement of ashes/leash/paw print etc
  • Suitable for pets of various sizes (up to 180lbs)
  • Lock & key set provides added security
  • Engraving done well & as advertised
  • Front area functional – photo printing available
  • Pricey compared to other products
  • Photo insert not included in price

Pet Memorial Paw Necklace

memorial jewelry Forever in MyView On Amazon
Keep their memory close with this elegant Pet Memorial Paw Necklace, crafted from premium-grade stainless steel and comes with a 20-inch stainless steel snake chain. The meaningful design features two circles representing love and a heart in the middle.

Plus, it comes equipped with a secure screw and rubber gasket to hold cremains, dried flowers, dirt, special messages, or hair.

This beautiful piece of memorial jewelry is perfect for honoring beloved pets that have passed on – no matter what size they were! It also makes an ideal gift for those who are grieving the loss of their pet.

The necklace is rust-proof, so you can wear it confidently, knowing its durability won’t be compromised over time. Corrosion-proof materials make sure that any weather conditions won’t damage your treasured keepsake.

While stain-resistant properties ensure that its exquisite quality will last as long as your memories do.

Plus, included in this package is an accompanying memorial jewelry box – making every detail about giving them back to nature perfectly complete!

  • Secure design prevents access by small hands
  • Durable construction & high-quality materials used
  • Affordable price compared to other products
  • Includes a graceful memorial jewelry gift box
  • Smaller than expected (1” x 1”)
  • Not suitable for boys

What is the Cause for Degenerative Myelopathy?

What is the Cause for Degenerative Myelopathy?
You may be wondering what causes canine degenerative myelopathy, and the exact cause remains unknown. Diagnosing DM can be difficult since symptoms are often dismissed as old age. However, any type of dog is vulnerable to this disease, regardless of breed.

Symptoms include a gradual loss of mobility in their hind legs, which worsens over time and eventually leads to complete paralysis. Other symptoms include difficulty standing up or climbing stairs, incontinence due to poor coordination between brain signals and bladder control muscles resulting in frequent urination accidents.

Most dogs affected with DM will need assistance walking or even lifting them for potty trips outside.

Treatment options for canine degenerative myelopathy vary depending on how advanced it is, but typically involve pain medications like NSAIDs as well as medication that helps slow down progression, such as corticosteroids.

The decision regarding euthanasia should always come after consulting your veterinarian. Saying goodbye can be heartbreaking yet necessary if the quality of life has deteriorated significantly due to the inevitable progression of this condition.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

What are the signs and symptoms of Degenerative Myelopathy?

Signs and symptoms of Degenerative Myelopathy can include weakness in the hind legs, difficulty standing or walking, knuckling over on the paws, a hunched stance when walking or standing, dragging feet while moving around, and an abnormal gait.

How can I support my dog with Degenerative Myelopathy?

Support your dog with degenerative myelopathy by providing a comfortable bed, wheelchair, and memory box. Be gentle and understanding of their needs. Make sure to take regular walks and enjoy quality time together.

Keep them safe from harm or undue stress so they can rest easy knowing you are there for them.

What is the average life expectancy of a dog with Degenerative Myelopathy?

The average life expectancy of a dog with Degenerative Myelopathy is variable, but typically ranges from six months to three years. With proper care and monitoring, your pup can have an enjoyable quality of life despite the disease’s progression.

It’s important to consult your vet for advice on when it may be time to consider euthanasia, as every pet has different needs and circumstances.

How can I cope with the decision to euthanize my dog?

Making the decision to euthanize your beloved dog can be a heartbreaking one. Seek support from friends, family, and counselors who can provide understanding and compassion. Consider speaking with a vet for professional advice on how best to handle the situation.

Remember that you are doing what is best for your pet’s well-being in this difficult time.

Is there a genetic component to Degenerative Myelopathy?

There is some evidence that Degenerative Myelopathy may have a genetic component, although this has not been definitively proven. Your veterinarian can provide more information on the disease and potential risk factors for your dog.


Your beloved pet deserves the best care you can provide, and that includes making the difficult decision to euthanize if they have canine degenerative myelopathy. While the decision is never easy, it is important to remember that this is an illness that progresses quickly, and dogs can be affected at any age.

On average, dogs tend to live for 6 months to 3 years after being diagnosed with canine degenerative myelopathy, so it’s important to act quickly if you notice your pet’s mobility is being affected. With the right products and treatments, you can make sure your pet is comfortable and their memory will always be with you.

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Mutasim Sweileh

Mutasim is the founder and editor-in-chief with a team of qualified veterinarians, their goal? Simple. Break the jargon and help you make the right decisions for your furry four-legged friends.