Degenerative myelopathy is a multi-system central and peripheral axonopathy that occurs in many middle-aged dogs. Initial symptoms are upper motor neuron in nature, producing disinhibition of spinal reflexes. Crossed extensor reflexes and spastic paresis along with proprioceptive ataxia are common in the initial stages, often occurring somewhat asymmetrically at first. Typically the dogs progress to becoming non-ambulatory and are euthanized in 6 to 9 months (Coates and Wininger, 2010), although this outcome may be reached within 1 to 3 months (Kathmann et al, 2006).
Dr Marsden presents a review of the pathology and an alternative model of disease progression which explains and guides the choice of treatment. As always, he draws on practical case history to demonstrate the effective use of treatments.