Degenerative Myelopathy treatment consists of providing your dog's body with what it needs for healing and repair along with sufficient exercise and/or physical therapy for maintenance of lean muscle mass. Many "experts" will tell you that there is no cure for Degenerative Myelopathy. However, we don't focus on a cure, but instead on what we can provide the body with to support its efforts to heal and repair itself. We have had tremendous success when using a high-quality whole food diet, whole food vitamin supplements and organic herbal remedies when treating numerous different health challenges and believe our success is much greater than is often attained using pharmaceutical drugs and synthetic vitamin supplements recommended elsewhere.
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 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, 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 trajectory of this condition. 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 lessened.
Our Natural Degenerative Myelopathy Protocol
Our "Core Recommendations" form the backbone of our Natural Degenerative Myelopathy Protocol. They consist of diet suggestions and supplement recommendations and are what we feel are the most important to provide to your animal companion for this condition. They are displayed individually or as a package at the botttom of this page along with other helpful products from which you may make additional selections. As always, we are here to help and you may contact us by phone or email by using the Contact Us link on the left side of this page if you need more individualized attention.
Core Recommendation #1 - Whole Food Nutrition
With a degenerative condition like Degenerative Myelopathy, in which the body needs the highest value nutrition possible to provide the body with what it needs for healing, we highly recommend a raw food diet. Raw food is how carnivores, like canines and felines, have evolved to eat and they do best on a high protein, low carbohydrate diet. This is, unfortunately, the opposite of how most pets are fed since the majority of commercial diets are low protein with 50% or more carbohydrates.
In addition, kibble diets are 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 (many believe Degenerative Myelopathy is an autoimmune condition) 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 more difficult time getting better. For more information read our article How to Feed Your Dog that can be found in our Education section.
Core Recommendation #2 - Daily Multi Complete for Dogs and Cats
This special product was formulated to form the base of an animals' nutritional needs. Combined with a high-quality diet it provides the enzymes, probiotics, prebiotics, glandular support, vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and phytonutrients needed to support the body's daily maintenance and repair needs for healthy aging. When animals have other imbalances, like Degenerative Myelopathy, other supplements can be added in to help with the special needs of that particular animal.
Why this supplement...
Our Daily Multi Complete provides the widest range and highest quantities of digestive enzymes, probiotics and whole food prebiotics available in one supplement to support proper digestion and a healthy digestive tract. It is the pet industry's premiere digestive enzyme and probiotic supplement. In conditions like Degenerative Myelopathy 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 myelin sheath healing and repair that could help your companion get better. This is not where you want your animal's body to have to divert its resources at this critical time.
In addition, 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 for the majority to be excreted in the urine without being utilized. This may be one reason why so many veterinarians feel that there is no "cure" for Degenerative Myelopathy, because the substances they rely on are primarily synthetic substitutes processed in Chinese facilities that do no conform to GMP (Good Manufacturing Practices).
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, whereas natural vitamin C present in foods acts as a protective antioxidant!
Core Recommendation #3 - Provide Nutrients to Support the Myelin Sheath
During the degenerative process of Degenerative 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. This Myelin Sheath glandular contains proteins 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.
Core Recommendation #4 - Provide a Nerve Tonic
Since the damage from Degenerative Myelopathy targets the nervous system, a Nerve Tonic can be very beneficial. This organic, herbal supplement contains St. John's Wort, an herb renowned for its ability to rebuild damaged nerves. This supplement also contains other nervines and anti-inflammatory herbs like skullcap, oat straw and ginger as well as ashwagandha, an herb prized in Ayurvedic medicine for its ability to support the adrenal glands and strengthen the body in times of stress. This wonderful herbal supplement was formulated by a certified Master Herbalist and is a strong weapon against the debilitation of Degenerative Myelopathy.
BioPreparation Microalgae Formula
This special blend of four unique algae was developed by a Russian Scientist, Dr. Michael Kiriac after decades of research. It is grown in controlled hydroponic conditions so it is the purest microalgae supplement on the planet. Its thousand of nutrients are so bioavailable they do not have to be digested, they easily pass through the digestive tract and feed cells on a cellular level. BioPreparation can cross the blood brain barrier to feed the brain, support the hypothalamus to help balance the entire endocrine system and even cross the blood retinal barrier to nurture the eyes. We have had outstanding success with this product and it is highly recommended.
Fish Oil High in Omega 3's
Omega 3 fatty acids are renowned for their anti-inflammatory benefits. They are particularly important to brain health because lipids, such as omega 3's, comprise a significant portion of this organ. One recent study found that aging humans who consumed more omega-3s had increased gray matter brain tissue volume and development. Omega 3's not only support brain cell structure, but they increase the production of vital neurotransmitters which could benefit those animals suffering with Degenerative Myelopathy.
Repair and Strengthen
This unique supplement contains organic, freeze-dried Aloe vera to reduce inflammation and heal tissue damage (especially in the digestive tract from the overuse of NSAID's and steroids like prednisone), a cold-processed whey protein isolate for its ability to support tissue growth and lean muscle mass and its content of glutamine (a nutrient important to digestive tract repair), along with high-quality colostrum that contains proline-rich polypeptides that help to regulate inflammation and growth factors needed to regenerate damaged tissue.
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. Using Systemic Enzymes between meals on an empty stomach allows these enzymes to enter the blood stream where they eliminate waste and harmful proteins to reduce inflammation and balance the immune system.
Exercise and Other Complimentary Approaches
Weight bearing exercise is very important for dogs suffering with Degenerative Myelopathy. By exercising your dog you will help to maintain or potentially increase lean muscle mass. This will extend the time for which your dog is mobile. Exercise also acts to benefit the lymphatic system helping the body to eliminate metabolic waste.
In a study conducted at the University of Berne in Switzerland, researchers determined that dogs who received intensive physical rehabilitation survived longer than dogs who received moderate or no physiotherapy. Their results also demonstrated that dogs who received physical rehabilitation remained ambulatory longer than dogs who did not receive treatment. It is important not to overdo these exercise sessions. Smaller more frequent sessions may be better than one longer, more demanding one.
Chiropractic and acupuncture treatments can be beneficial in maintaining an animal's spinal alignment and increasing energy flow, blood flow and nutrient supply to tissue in the rear of the body.
If your animal's condition deteriorates there is equipment designed to assist your canine's mobility. There are booties to protect back paws that may drag and become irritated, slings to assist you in helping your dog as well as devices with wheels to more directly help your companion maintain his own mobility.
To learn more about this condition you can read the article entitled What is Degenerative Myelopathy in our Education Center.
Hoffman, D. (2003). Medical herbalism: The science and practice of herbal medicine. Rochester, VT: Healing Arts Press.
Kidd, R. (2000). Dr. Kidd’s guide to herbal dog care. North Adams, MA: Storey Publishing.
Messonnier, S. (2001). Natural health bible for dogs & cats: You’re a-z guide to over 200 conditions, herbs, vitamins and supplements. New York, NY: Three Rivers Press.
Murray, M. T., & Pizzorno, J. E. (1998). Encyclopedia of natural medicine (2nd ed.). New York, NY: Three Rivers Press.
Pitcairn R. H., & Hubble-Pitcairn S. (1995). Dr. Pitcairn’s complete guide to natural health for dogs & cats. Emmaus, PA: Rodale Press, Inc.
Pitchford, P. (2002). Healing with whole foods: Asian traditions and modern nutrition (3rd ed.). Berkeley, CA: North Atlantic Books.
Puotinen, CJ. (2000). The encyclopedia of natural pet care (2nd ed.). Los Angeles, CA: Keats Publishing.
Tilford, G. L., & Wulff, M. L. (2009). Herbs for pets: The natural way to enhance your pet’s life. (2nd ed.). Irvine, CA: BowTie Press.
Thibodeau, G.A., & Patton, K.T. (2008). Structure & function of the body. St. Louis, MO: Mosby.
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.