Degenerative Myelopathy
Written by Susan McKinnon
February 13, 2008

Updated information - February 2008

After 2 grueling days at the University of Florida Neurology Department the verdict is in. My beautiful Baby Jade has DM. The neurologist was a bit surprised and disappointed, as DM usually affects both rear legs pretty equally and progresses fairly slowly. Jades' left leg is markedly worse than her right - and the progression seems to be going extremely fast - with her left leg being much worse than it was 2 weeks ago. We may not have very much time left. She does have a couple of disc issues that we will be dealing with using acupuncture - but other than you all know the prognosis is not good. I am counting on the wealth of experience in this list to help Jade and I deal with what is to come.

Now - about DM. Dr. Clemmons at University of Florida is The National Expert on DM. He has studied it in German Shepherds for years and continues to do research in that arena. That said - this is what I learned first hand yesterday at UF.

The protocol shown in the article I referred to on the UF website the other day shows medications and a diet that have been found to be helpful in slowing the progression of DM in German Shepherds. The key words in that sentence are "in German Shepherds". In GSDs' Dr. Clemmons research has actually isolated the gene responsible for DM. However - other breeds such as Corgis' and Boxers - who predisposition to DM is relatively recent in the overall scheme of things - Do Not have that gene. This leads researchers to believe that the DM in our breed Is Not the same as in GSDs. Therefore the protocol for GSDs has not been shown to work as well or possibly even at all. Jade will start the protocol immediately because at the very least it won't hurt. And exercise is the key to slowing DM - moderate exercise every day - preferably swimming - but controlled walking - not wild boxer play. Jade and I will have to discuss that *g*.

Now - for those of you wanting to do something to help protect your boxer babies against DM - the Neurologists at UF recommend Vitamin E Every Day at a rate of 400 IU's per day for a 50 lb boxer up to 1000 IU's every day for a boxer weighing 75 lbs or more. This is the best and only defense we have against this disease.

Also - if you have older dogs who tend to be couch potatoes get them up and moving for at least 1/2 hour of exercise every day - more if they are able. Keeping them moving is The Key to keeping this disease at bay.

Also - I thought you might find it interesting to know that while Dr. Clemmons staff would love to be able to research in depth DM in our beloved breed - his staff has - to date - not been able to acquire any funding in this regard.

Thank you for listening and please keep Jade and I in your prayers and Good Thoughts. Any input/information anyone may have for us will be greatly appreciated.

Written by Susan McKinnon

Susan had shared her story on a Boxer email list I am on. I asked if she would not mind letting me share her story with others. I am grateful she has shared this experience and new information.

You can find more information about Dr Clemmons' study here:

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