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My Pug has Degenerative Myelopathy. What Should I Do?

My Pug has Degenerative Myelopathy. What Should I Do?

Many pugs are diagnosed with Degenerative Myelopathy, but please be warned that vets can often incorrectly diagnose your pug. Your pug could actually have the condition Pug Myelopathy instead, so it’s worth ensuring that diagnosis is correct. Pug Myelopathy is a relatively new, less-known condition, which can lead to misdiagnosis.

Degenerative Myelopathy vs Pug Myelopathy

Both Degenerative Myelopathy and Pug Myelopathy are similar: both conditions affect the back legs, the back paws can curl and knuckle and both can make your dog paralysed. 

The difference is that pug myelopathy doesn’t ultimately progress to complete body paralysis, unlike Degenerative Myelopathy which does. Dogs suffering from Degenerative Myelopathy have a shortened life expectancy. Sufferers of Pug Myelopathy can often live a normal lifespan, although with rear limb paralysis (and in some cases, urinary incontinence).

The first step, visit the vet

So the first thing to do is to get as definite a diagnosis as possible, which your vet will do by ruling out other conditions that have similar symptoms, as well as eliminate Degenerative Myelopathy. Your vet will likely suggest X-Rays or an MRI scan for images of the spinal cord. A spinal tap (Cerebo Spinal Fluid test) might also be needed. 

Get a gene test 

Your pug may be gene tested to see whether they’re carrying two copies of the mutated Degenerative Myelopathy gene. This is only a conclusive test to show it’s not Degenerative Myelopathy if your dog doesn’t have any copies of it at all (clear). However, if your pug only has one copy, it means it’s far less likely to be Degenerative Myelopathy. 

Next step, keep your pug moving and active

If your pug has been diagnosed with Pug Myelopathy, one of your priorities will be maintaining your dog’s mobility for as long as possible.

Even if your dog’s in the early stages of the condition, and still walking, there’s a theory that getting a wheelchair is still essential. At this point, rather than it being a mobility aid, it’s function is more as a physical therapy tool. This is because it allows the leg and hindquarter muscles to keep activated and functional. Waiting until the disease progresses before getting a wheelchair, runs the risk of your pug’s leg muscles getting too weak, at which point they’re not strong enough to hold up the pug’s body weight.

Read more about pug wheelchairs here

You can read more about pug wheelchairs here. Some owners like to use Maximus Skates with wheelchairs - they’re basically like little roller skates for your pug - to help keep the back legs gliding along the ground.

So a wheelchair, in conjunction with physiotherapy and hydrotherapy can be very helpful in maintaining muscles and cardiovascular health. 

Protect your pugs paws

You may also need to protect your dog’s rear paws because of any knuckling or scuffing of the skin caused by the pug myelopathy. There are boots specifically designed to protect the tops of the paws from the skin scraping caused by knuckling.

Maximus PawsUp are boots specifically designed to help correct knuckling while they’re being worn. They can make a significant difference. Your pug might really benefit from wearing these. They can also be worn when using a wheelchair.

Pug Myelopathy is often accompanied by urinary incontinence. Waterproof bedding and washable incontinence pads for around the house can save a lot of work.

Weight management is also key. Ensure your dog is maintaining the correct weight by checking their receiving the appropriate nutrition for their age and weight.

Read more about Pug Myelopathy here

You can read more about Pug Myelopathy here - Causes, Prevention and How To Help 

Read more about pug wheelchairs here

Read how other pug owners use a dog wheelchair to help their pug live an active life

Previous article Viva, the dog, had a Bleed on the Spine

Read more about Degenerative Myelopathy:  Causes, Prevention and How to Help

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