At the bottom of this page you will find our Degenerative Myelopathy Protocol with product recommendations.
What is Degenerative Myelopathy?
Myelopathy is a disease of the spinal cord. It is often referred to as degenerative myelopathy because the condition is slowly progressive. This condition is believed to be caused by changes in the spinal cord including damage to the surrounding myelin sheath that is important to nerve transmission down the spinal cord. This results in messages from the brain not traveling down the spinal cord as they should. Symptoms of the lack of neural impulses reaching the hindquarters are weakness, poor motor reflexes, and urinary and bowel incontinence.
Other possible causes of myelopathy include damage to disks, spinal tumor or hypothyroidism. These other possible causes should be eliminated by examination by your veterinarian or a canine chiropractor. In this holistic protocol we will focus on the primary suspected cause of this condition, which is demyelination (destruction of the myelin sheath surrounding the spinal cord).
Knowledgeable holistic veterinarians suspect that degenerative myelopathy is an autoimmune disorder in which the body's own defenses (antibodies) attack the body's own proteins (spinal cord protein). A primary suspected cause is vaccinations. This is because vaccinated animals have higher levels of autoantibodies, the antibodies responsible for autoimmune conditions, circulating in their blood stream. Over-exposure to toxins from vaccinations, food or the environment can also be contributing factors.
Standard Veterinary Medicine Approach
In standard western veterinarian medicine the procedure would be to attempt to reduce inflammation by using corticosteroids or NSAIDs, neither of which are effective treatments for this condition. Antioxidants may be recommended and this is a good idea. However, synthetic, isolated vitamins and minerals are typically used. The body treats synthetic chemicals typically found in most multivitamin supplements more like drugs, causing the liver and kidneys more work only to have the majority end up being eliminated in the urine. We feel that the best way to feed a body is with whole foods that are easily recognized and metabolized by the body often resulting in dramatic healing results.
Natural Protocol Goal
The goal of our natural protocol is to stop the degenerative process that is occurring in your animals' body and to provide the body with what it needs to heal and repair itself. At the same time in a holistic fashion, we want to remove any contributing factors whether these are in your pet's diet, environment or occur during veterinary visits. Since we do not necessarily know the root cause(s) of the imbalance in your particular animal, we do know from our research and experience what are the primary culprits. We don’t recommend medications or pharmaceuticals that can have damaging short and long-term side effects but instead nutrients from real food, healthy natural supplements and other supportive care that can provide your animal with with what their body needs to heal! Whether the food be herbs or supplements such as antioxidants, enzymes or probiotics, these natural substances provide the body with powerful nutrition and thus the increased ability to rebalance and heal itself. You will notice from our product selection that we focus on natural, organic (when available) whole foods, not isolated synthetic vitamins and minerals found on most other websites. At The Pet Health and Nutrition Center we focus on true healing, not gimmicks, and we have hundreds of loyal clients that build our business primarily on word of mouth to prove it!
Please note: It is important that degenerative myelopathy is recognized, and a natural treatment regimen begun, as early as possible. Preferably when the first signs of weakness in the rear end or knuckling under of rear paws are noticed, to prevent continued degeneration. Treatment begun when the unfortunate canine is unable to stand anymore is most likely a little late in the game. It doesn't mean you can't try treatment at this later date, it just means the chances for a return to better health are very much lessened.
Our Natural Degenerative Myelopathy Protocol
Recommendation #1 - Whole Food Nutrition
With a degenerative condition such as this, in which the body needs the highest value nutrition possible, we highly recommend a raw food diet. Raw food is how dogs and cats have evolved to eat and since dogs, for instance, are genetically 98% wolf they need to be fed a biologically appropriate diet for optimum health. Our canine and feline companions are carnivores and need a high protein low carbohydrate diet. This is unfortunately the opposite of how most are fed since the majority of commercial diets are low protein with 50% or more carbohydrates.
Kibble diets are also harder for an animal to digest and this is the last thing your pet needs at this point. Since proteins are being broken down in the autoimmune process and there is usually muscle wasting that accompanies this disease process, without the right nutrition that is easily digested, absorbed and metabolized your animal will have a hard getting better.
What to do...
Select a high-quality raw food prepared diet without synthetic vitamins locally or one from our site. We highly recommend K9 Natural Dog Food. A high-quality dehydrated diet would be an alternative here, but select one without synthetic vitamins. Our favorite can be found on this website: http://www.nrgdogproducts.com/. We are not a fan of freeze-dried diets because the freeze-drying process limits the cells ability to rehydrate, as a result these diets do not reconstitute as well as dehydrated diets. We feel this can possibly keep a dog or cat in a varying state of dehydration putting extra stress on the kidneys.
If you can’t for whatever reason feed a raw food diet, the only kibble diet we would recommend is Orijen Adult Dog Food. This food has been pet food of the year for a number of years now and has the highest fresh meat, high-quality protein content of any kibble pet food on the market. In addition, they have removed the potato ingredient thereby eliminating the starchy, high glycemic carbohydrate many carnivores don't metabolize well that is present in most grain-free pet foods.
Recommendation #2 - Whole Food Antioxidant Multivitamin
Demyelination, and in general any tissue damage in the body, produces free radicals. These molecules create oxidative stress leading to inflammation and DNA damage resulting in chronic disease. The body always benefits from antioxidants, but in the case of degenerative myelopathy, the need is many times greater. The body can more easily utilize nutrients that it can recognize, and these are best obtained from whole foods. Isolated synthetic vitamins and minerals have more of a drug effect on the body and place undue stress on the liver and kidneys only to end up being excreted in the urine without being utilized.
What to do...
Select a high-quality, whole food multivitamin / antioxidant formula. Our favorite for this purpose is BioPreparation F3+ Forte, which is a blend of four algae researched and formulated by a Russian scientist named Dr. Michael Kiriac after decades of research and work with many different species of animals. We have had great success with this product.
Example of Vitamin C
Synthetic – denoted as 250mg vitamin C or ascorbic acid
Natural – rose hips or acerola cherry
Did you know…
Much, if not all, of the ascorbic acid we see today is a synthetic form, 80% of which is manufactured in China. In addition, ascorbic acid makes up only a small percentage of the entire natural vitamin C complex! Studies have shown 500mg of synthetic vitamin C has actually promoted free radical damage to DNA, where as natural vitamin C present in foods acts as a protective antioxidant!
Recommendation #3 - Reduce Inflammation
Reducing inflammation is important with degenerative myelopathy to reduce damage to the nerve cells that occurs during the autoimmune process of demyelination. However, it should be done in a way that will benefit the immune system, not fight it and suppress it as do steroids and NSAIDs. Suppressing the immune system with drugs is unhealthy and dangerous with not only potentially severe side effects but the greater possibility of cancer and other serious disease in the future.
What to do...
Recommendation #4 - Rebuild the Myelin Sheath
During the degenerative process of myelopathy the myelin sheath surrounding the spinal cord is broken down. This occurs in what is suspected to be an autoimmune reaction as the body's own antibodies attack and destroy the proteins in the myelin. As the process continues the animal goes from bad to worse as it becomes more difficult for the neural impulses to travel down the spinal cord to the animal's hindquarters.
What to do...
Provide a Myelin Sheath Glandular (coming August 2013) supplement. This protein is believed to be important in the process of myelination which is the production of myelin. This is exactly what we are looking for to counter the demyelination, or destruction of myelin, that occurs with degenerative myelopathy.
Recommendation #5 - Heal the Digestive Tract
Due to the overuse of antibiotics, steroids and NSAIDs there are probably few animals that do not have some sort of damage to their digestive tract since that is a side effect of their use. Animals that have symptoms of myelopathy often receive these drugs as part of their treatment, even though they have little to no benefit. Symptoms of damage to the mucosal lining of the GI tract range from digestive upset to leaky gut issues to hemorrhage and death.
What to do...
Provide our Repair and Heal Supplement (coming August 2013, use our Colostrum for now). This product contains aloe vera to reduce inflammation and heal tissue damage, a cold-processed whey protein isolate for its ability to support tissue growth and its content of glutamine, a nutrient important to digestive tract repair, and colostrum that contains proline-rich polypeptides that help to regulate inflammation and growth factors needed to regenerate damaged tissue.
Recommendation #6 - Improve digestion
As mentioned in recommendation #1, in conditions such as this it is extremely important that the food provided to your companion is easily and quickly digested. The digestive process can require an enormous amount of energy from the body. The energy put into digestion is taken away from that which could be provided to immune function and tissue repair. This is not where you want your animal's body to have to divert its resources at this critical time.
What to do...
Provide a Digestive Enzyme and Probiotic Supplement to improve the efficiency of the digestive process. Enzymes are functional proteins that act as chemical catalysts in chemical reactions throughout the body. They play a vital role in digestion being secreted by the pancreas and cells lining the digestive tract. The body's production of enzymes decreases with age and infirmity limiting your pet's ability to get all the nutrition they need out of their food.
Bring the stomach's pH level into the proper range with our Probiotic Digestive Tonic. The ideal pH of your animal's stomach is a pH of 1 to 2. With kibble diets, or a poor diet in general, the pH of the stomach can go to 4 or higher. At a pH above 2 the level of hydrochloric acid becomes too low (hypochloridia) for proper protein and mineral breakdown. This leads to larger than normal particles entering the small intestine, which can either pass out of the body only partially digested, or if the lining of the intestinal wall is damaged, to these particles entering the blood stream and causing an inflammatory immune system reaction.
Our Natural Degenerative Myelopathy Protocol
If this all seems complicated, and you would like personal guidance, we would be happy to help. Philip is a Master Herbalist who specializes in conditions such as this. He will provide you with a holistic protocol specifically for your animal. If you would like personal guidance please click here: Pet Health Consultation.
Q. What if I only want to use one product?
A. If we had to choose only one product it would be the Myelin Sheath Glandular. Please keep in mind that this product can be very effective, however, this condition is very serious and if you do not follow any of our other suggestions you may not have the success you are hoping for.
Q. Are there packages that I can select from to make my purchasing easier?
A. Yes, we have several packages to make your shopping easier: (coming August 2013). For now, you may call us toll free at 888-683-3339 and we will get your degenerative myelopathy package together for you and place your order over the phone.
This information is for education only and is not meant to diagnose, treat or prescribe for any disease or medical condition.
Information on herbs and supplements has not been evaluated by the FDA.