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CDRM in Dogs

Updated on June 15, 2011

Is there anything I can do?

There may be a glimmer of hope. When this diagnosis is made, it is usually a body blow. However, things just may not be totally as bad as they at first seem.

CDRM is a progressive and non-painful degenerative neurological disease of dogs, affecting mostly the German Shepherd breed. We have also seen it in ageing Rough Collies and Golden Retrievers.

It affects the spinal cord, causing gradual loss of control of the hind legs, later ascending the spinal cord to affect other levels of the body. It is likely to be of 'autoimmune' origin.

There is no known conventional treatment. Families with an affected dog are usually advised that the decline is of variable speed but inevitable.

In alternative (holistic) medicine, there may be some extra insights and possibly some chance of slowing, halting or even partially reversing the signs. A significant number of patients have shown improvements and a return to a capable lifestyle.

Rough Collie
Rough Collie

The disease

Progressive loss of control of the back legs

The full name of the disease is Chronic Degenerative RadiculoMyelopathy. This refers to the part of the spinal cord which is affected and the first nerves to suffer loss of function are those of proprioception (position sense). It is also known as Degenerative Myelopathy (DM).

An affected dog will start almost imperceptibly to drag one or other or both hind feet. Later signs are failure to control the back end when turning sharply, tendency to fall at the back end, unconscious tangling of the legs and, eventually, loss of use of the back end. Affected dogs sway at the back end, can knuckle their back feet and can damage the toe nails, nail beds and upper surfaces of the feet. If the disease progresses unchecked, it will go on ascending the spinal cord, eventually affecting the abdomen then the chest.

The pathology appears to be an autoimmune attack on the myelin sheath (insulation sheath) of the nerves and those of proprioception are the finest and the most susceptible, thus being the first to show the effect.

Diagnosis is effectively a process of elimination, since there appears to be no definitive means of diagnosis in the live dog. However, the dog will willingly stand with an inverted hind foot. A normal dog will not even allow an inverted foot to touch the ground.

Other diseases which can show some similarity of signs are Hip Dysplasia, Spondylosis, Arthritis and Disc Disease. Each of these can be accurately diagnosed so they are usually eliminated during investigations.

Ageing Golden Retriever
Ageing Golden Retriever

Treatment possibilities

ACUPUNCTURE - HOMEOPATHY - DIET

After many years of failure to help dogs with this problem, despite owners persisting in forcing the effort so that we were for ever trying many different techniques and protocols, we had a breakthrough in the early 80s. An ageing German Shepherd male was showing signs of CDRM, which had reached a degree that prevented him from jumping into the car and he showed characteristic swaying of the back end. After two treatments, improvements were noticeable. He went on to enjoy his life and even joined in beach holidays until his eventual death at 14 years old.

Because of this apparent success, clients were offered a slightly less gloomy outlook and more successes followed, using a broadly similar protocol. However, it soon became clear that dogs who developed the condition younger than 8 years of age were very unlikely to show any improvement, whereas those older at onset paradoxically have been seen to have a better chance of success.

While by no means every case shows improvement, an integrated combination of homeopathy, acupuncture and natural feeding has resulted in a great number of improved patients.

In failed cases, some dogs in some circumstances accept, enjoy and benefit from being supplied with wheels, in the form of a specialised tailor-made two-wheeled cart. This can return good mobility until the disease progresses too far.

I believe that a natural diet (preferably all organic) is of importance, in increasing healing capability. Natural Feeding Information

We also use the following therapies, depending upon the case and individual circumstances:

Acupuncture

Homeopathy

Herbs

Chiropractic

Cause

An immune-mediated disease

We do not know the precise cause of this very distressing disease but we have suspicions that it is auto-immune in nature and that repeated vaccinations may play a part in triggering this condition. This suspicion is reinforced by the observation that we have seen many cases arise very soon following the administration of two successive vaccine boosters two weeks apart, given because a dog's annual boosters have lapsed for a few years. This is a practice without scientific support and is, in my opinion, very dangerous.

We know that German Shepherd Dogs have a particularly susceptible immune system, showing many immune-mediated diseases.

Have you had or seen a dog with CDRM?

What was your experience?

There was a positive outcome (we used . . .)

There was a positive outcome (we used . . .)

Submit a Comment

  • jhquinn1954 3 years ago

    We are trying to rule out CDRM now, a couple of weeks ago, Thor my GSD slid on the hardwood floor, and was slow to get up, the next week and week after he was having trouble, turningand especially going down stairs, We went to the Vet.and all the symptons of CDRM were there, but the vet was concerned that Thor was only seven years old. He did a couple of xrays and found some abnormality's with his disc, so to rule out CDRM, he was put on steroids Sat. today will be our 3rd dose, I'm trying to see the best side of every time he goes down the stairs, to me some time better, sometime the same...The steroids might be giving him a drippy bladder, but that is well worth the price to rule out CDRM..praying that the steroids do the trick.

  • Laraine Sims 6 years ago from Lake Country, B.C.

    One of our neighbors had a dog with this disease. At first I was a bit leary of the dog but soon found out that he was a very normal, friendly old dog. The owner went on walks with him regularly and said that he was being treated. I don't know what treatment he was given but, I was astonished at the improvement he showed within months. This neighbor has moved from our area now but I hope "Mac" is doing well.

Nothing helped (we tried . . .)

Submit a Comment

  • cjbmeb14 lm 4 years ago

    Terrible disease saw it in a neighbours dog years ago.

Summary

CDRM is thought to be an immune mediated disease (autoimmune).

There are suspicions that repeat vaccination boosters can play a part in causation.

Diet, Acupuncture and Homeopathy, in an integrated therapeutic protocol have apparently brought about improvement in a number of cases.

Experience has shown that dogs older than 8 years at onset are more likely to show positive responses.

Wheels (cart) can help return a quality of life to suitable dogs.

The author is independent of commercial interest or sponsorship and cannot endorse any products or advertising material attached to this lens.

For more information, visit AVMC's information website (over 600 pages).

Chris Day - holistic vet - runs the Alternative Veterinary Medicine Centre in Oxfordshire (AVMC) in Oxfordshire, UK.

Dog awaiting ball
Dog awaiting ball
The Homeopathic Treatment of Small Animals: Principles and Practice
The Homeopathic Treatment of Small Animals: Principles and Practice

Homeopathy for Dogs, Cats and other small animals.

 

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    • ChrisDay LM profile image
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      ChrisDay LM 6 years ago

      @LaraineRoses: It is truly my pleasure. If any of these articles helps just one dog, I'm happy.

    • LaraineRoses profile image

      Laraine Sims 6 years ago from Lake Country, B.C.

      I'm happy I found your lenses. I think the more we can find out about our pets and ways to keep them happy, the better. Thank you for sharing your knowledge with us.

    • ChrisDay LM profile image
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      ChrisDay LM 6 years ago

      @Krafick: Nice to see you - thanks for your support.

    • Krafick profile image

      Krafick 6 years ago

      I came to learn a bit more from you. Rafick

    • ChrisDay LM profile image
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      ChrisDay LM 6 years ago

      @PNWtravels: You are very kind and supportive.

    • PNWtravels profile image

      Vicki Green 6 years ago from Wandering the Pacific Northwest USA

      Another great lens with information about diseases in our pets. Your knowledge and expertise is always such a great resource on Squidoo.

    • ChrisDay LM profile image
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      ChrisDay LM 6 years ago

      @chrispell017: You're most kind.

    • ChrisDay LM profile image
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      ChrisDay LM 6 years ago

      @smithlights: Good luck in your quest - I hope there's a happy outcome.

    • smithlights profile image

      smithlights 6 years ago

      @ChrisDay LM: Yes, thanks. I wasn't looking for a diagnosis from across the pond, just questions to ask the vet. I wasn't familiar with CDRM, so I figured I'd ask. Thank you!

    • smithlights profile image

      smithlights 6 years ago

      Thanks, Chris! Are there any specific tests to try? I know you said it's mostly diagnosis by elimination. My dog is showing signs, but could be hip displasia, arthritis or any of those. He picks his foot up often and falls from time to time, and the vet said he has decreased muscle mass on that hip/thigh. (You can read about Rosco at http://www.squidoo.com/when-your-dog-is-bigger-tha... Thanks!

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      chrispell017 6 years ago

      nice informative lens!

    • ChrisDay LM profile image
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      ChrisDay LM 6 years ago

      @anonymous: Thanks so much!

    • ChrisDay LM profile image
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      ChrisDay LM 6 years ago

      @MargoPArrowsmith: Yes, it's a case of 'some and some'. Thanks for visiting.

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      anonymous 6 years ago

      Wow, you are quite the animal expert.

    • MargoPArrowsmith profile image

      MargoPArrowsmith 6 years ago

      I knew someone who put wheels on a German Shepherd's back legs. I don't know what I think about it. But this is good information

    • ChrisDay LM profile image
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      ChrisDay LM 6 years ago

      @jennabee25: Yes, good plan - I hope that it stays away.

    • jennabee25 profile image

      Jenn Dixon 6 years ago from PA

      My sister has a GSD and I will tell her to be observant about this condition. Our canine friends are worth looking out for!

    • ChrisDay LM profile image
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      ChrisDay LM 6 years ago

      @debnet: I'll keep fingers crossed for him. Please let me know.

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      Debbie 6 years ago from England

      I've had three GSD and the last one (who is with my ex) is showing signs of what we thought was hip related problems. The breeders assured us his hip score, and that of his parents was really good. Maybe he has the onset of this. I'll get my ex to investigate. Thanks for raising awareness through your lens.

    • ChrisDay LM profile image
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      ChrisDay LM 6 years ago

      @Stonecutter: Thank you for your visit and for your kind and thoughtful comment.

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      Stonecutter 6 years ago

      Hi Chris, this is a fantastic lens, Sousababy, (Rose) highly recommended your lenses to me as we have some things in common. Definitely will be updating some of my lenses to feature the information you share. Extremely informative and valuable. Thanks for your great efforts on behalf of our Animal Friends.

    • ChrisDay LM profile image
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      ChrisDay LM 6 years ago

      @norma-holt: Thanks so much - what a great honour.

    • sousababy profile image

      sousababy 6 years ago

      Actually, lensrolled to two of my lenses: Healthy Valentine's Day Gifts

      Preventive Medicine is UNDERfunded, why?

    • norma-holt profile image

      norma-holt 6 years ago

      Great information, thanks Chris. *-*Blessed*-* and featured on Angel Blessings for Dogs on Squidoo.

    • ChrisDay LM profile image
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      ChrisDay LM 6 years ago

      @sousababy: THANKS!

    • ChrisDay LM profile image
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      ChrisDay LM 6 years ago

      @sousababy: The vaccine issue is a really difficult one, I know. Some vets are beginning to realise that there may be dangers of vaccination and some of the poor science that is put out by the commercial world.

      Yes, you're right, CDRM shares a lot with MS.

      Thanks so much for the lensrolling

    • sousababy profile image

      sousababy 6 years ago

      Chris, this mirrors MS (multiple sclerosis) as I am sure you are aware. Colder climates seem to have a higher incidence of MS (like Canada). The vaccine factor is very interesting, indeed. You have really opened up my mind on this one. (Incidentally, I once considered fabricating prosthetic wheeled devices to help doggies ambulate). Since older dogs seem to have a greater chance of some recovery, it also underscores the possible cumulative toxic effect (of say, vaccines or maybe something else?) in an immature immune system (as in younger dogs). My vet has cut 'way back' on immunizing animals. .wonder if this is why. For humans, I am really torn now. Some vaccines are invaluable and the whole idea of 'herd immunity' has even caused people to NOT vaccinate their children. Some vaccines, I feel, are essential though. Much to consider, indeed.

      I'm learning, I'm learning.

      Lensrolled to my 'Preventive medicine is UNDERfunded, why?' lens.

      Thank you so very much. Take care of those animals,

      Rose

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      ChrisDay LM 6 years ago

      @mirichandler: Thank you for your kind attention and comment.

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      mirichandler 6 years ago

      I shared this page on Facebook. This is very helpful and compassionate. Thank you.

    • ChrisDay LM profile image
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      ChrisDay LM 6 years ago

      @anonymous: Well done for keeping quality of life at a high - she obviously still wants to stay with you on the planet and great that she does. Thanks for your visit.

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      anonymous 6 years ago

      I wish I would have found you two years ago when my aussie/border collie's back legs started to fail, I did acupuncture and warm water therapy, changed her diet to all natural foods that I make every day for her but maybe I started too late. She now has a wheel cart and other than the fact that her back legs don't work she is still pretty good for a 16 year old dog! You can read a little of her story on my lens Teddybears Story.

      Thanks for so many nice comments on my lenses also!

    • ChrisDay LM profile image
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      ChrisDay LM 6 years ago

      @MacPharlain: So sorry to hear about your departed and much missed friend.

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      MacPharlain 6 years ago

      Our Shepherd mix had nerve degeneration and a disc issue...many of the same symptoms you describe. We eventually tried acupuncture and it seemed to help right after the first treatment for a couple days but successive treatments showed no effect. I miss that dog, he was a faithful friend for 13 years.

    • ChrisDay LM profile image
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      ChrisDay LM 6 years ago

      @TonyPayne: I'm sorry to hear that but I recommend an examination to establish the reasons for his signs and I recommend holistic treatment if this condition is diagnosed. I hope things turn out well for him!

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      Tony Payne 6 years ago from Southampton, UK

      Our German Shepherd is 8 years old and showing some of these tendencies. At times one of his back legs gets very irritated.