Degenerative Myelopathy

Degenerative Myelopathy causes, treatment and remedies for your dog provided by certified Master Herbalist Philip Reich. Philip specializes in medical herbalism for animals and diseases like Degenerative Myelopathy. Our Holistic Natural Degenerative Myelopathy Protocol consists of providing your dog's body with the nutrition 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 treatment that supports the body's 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 like Degenerative Myelopathy and believe our success is much greater than is often attained using pharmaceutical drugs and synthetic vitamin supplements recommended elsewhere.

Degenerative Myelopathy Treatment

We deal with problems like Degenerative Myelopathy frequently with numerous clients from all over the country. Our experience with issues like this has helped us become one of the few places people can go for answers to help solve tough issues with their dogs and cats. We have helped hundreds of animals just like yours - it is what we do! See what others have to say about us by reading some of The Pet Health and Nutrition Center Testimonials. Feel free to contact us by email if you have any questions or just use our toll free number 888-683-3339 during normal business hours. We provide free telephone consultations and are here to help!

This is a long page. If you do not wish to read the entire page please use this Table of Contents to scroll down to the desired location.
I. Educational video
II. What is Degenerative Myelopathy?
III. Causes of Degenerative Myelopathy
IV. Standard Veterinary Medicine Approach
V. Holistic Natural Protocol Goal
VI. Holistic Natural Degenerative Myelopathy Protocol
VII. Natural Remedies

I. Degenerative Myelopathy Educational Video


Loading the player...


II. 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. It is an adult onset spinal cord disorder that affects dogs and is similar to Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS) or Lou Gehrig’s disease in humans.

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 from the brain down the spinal cord. Damage to this nerve communication results in messages from the brain not traveling down the spinal cord to the rest of the body as they should.

When Does it Typically Occur?

Degenerative myelopathy is a progressive disease that comes on slowly. The disease typically begins to display between 5 and 14 years of age. It does not come on suddenly, so if there is a sudden onset of symptoms that mimic those of Degenerative Myelopathy then other disorders such as disk disease, disk herniation, spinal cord tumors, and FCE (a “stroke” in the spinal cord) should be investigated by a competent veterinary practitioner.

What are the Symptoms?

Initial symptoms include loss of coordination in rear limbs, wobbling when walking, rear feet knuckling under and/or dragging. Very often a clear sign is when the rear nails start to become very worn. A quick test you can perform at home is to gently bend a rear paw under so the knuckles are on the ground and see if your dog quickly readjusts his foot so the pad is back on the ground. Dogs with Degenerative Myelopathy will often not realize the paw is knuckled under or be very slow to set the paw properly on the ground.

As the disease progresses, the limbs become weak and the dog begins to buckle and has difficulty standing. The weakness gets progressively worse until the dog is unable to walk. The clinical course can range from 6 months to 1 year before dogs become paraplegic. If signs progress for a longer period of time, loss of urinary and fecal continence may occur and eventually weakness will develop in the front limbs. Another key feature of Degenerative Myelopathy is that it is not a painful disease because of the loss of nerve transmission.

In What Breeds is Degenerative Myelopathy Most Common?

The disease is most common in several breeds including German Shepherds, Pembroke Welsh Corgis, Boxers, Chesapeake Bay Retrievers, Rhodesian Ridgebacks, Wire Fox Terriers and Standard Poodles. Other breeds predisposed to Degenerative Myelopathy include American Eskimos, Bernese Mountain Dogs, Borzois, Golden Retrievers, Great Pyrenees, Kerry Blue Terriers, Pugs, Shetland Sheepdogs and Wheaten Terriers. Even mixed breed dogs can be susceptible with both sexes of all breeds being equally affected by this condition.

DNA Testing for Degenerative Myelopathy

A DNA test exists, available through the Orthopedic Foundation for Animals (OFA) that can clearly identify dogs that are clear of Degenerative Myelopathy; those who are carriers; and those who are at much higher risk for developing Degenerative Myelopathy. However, even those dogs whose results show that they are at higher risk for developing Degenerative Myelopathy may not develop the disease. The test does does not diagnose Degenerative Myelopathy, it only identifies the presence of normal or mutated genes. One version, for dogs who are suspected of having Degenerative Myelopathy, requires a blood sample be submitted by your veterinarian, while the other requires a simple cheek swab and can be performed at home. Nevertheless, it is recommend having the test performed and submitted in consultation with your veterinarian.

III. Causes of Degenerative Myelopathy

While the majority of medical practitioners feel this degenerative condition is primarily related to genetic predisposition and write it off as having no known cure, others feel very differently. 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). Even though there may be a genetic predisposition in some animals, 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 repeated vaccinations, food or the environment can also be contributing factors.

Other possible causes of myelopathy symptoms include damage to disks, spinal misalignment, spinal tumor or even hypothyroidism. These other possible causes should be investigated by a competent holistic veterinarian or, better yet, a canine chiropractor. A typical allopathic veterinarian may just write these symptoms off as Degenerative Myelopathy and tell you there is nothing you can do.

IV. 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.

V. Holistic 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 nutrition is in the form of food, 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 optimum health are lessened.

VI. Holistic Natural Degenerative Myelopathy Protocol

Core Recommendations Suggested products (excluding food) are included in the Core Degenerative Myelopathy Package found below.

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 bottom of this page along with other helpful products from which you may make additional selections. Pet foods can be purchased at your finer, local pet stores. As always, we are here to help and you may contact us by phone or email 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 with natural and organic whole foods to form the foundation 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. In this formula you will find all of the A, B, E and C vitamins recommended by the veterinarian community - only in an organic, whole food form!

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. 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 - 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 - 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 nerve tonics like skullcap, oat straw and gotu kola as well as licorice root, an herb prized in herbal medicine for its ability to reduce inflammation and balance the immune system. This wonderful herbal supplement was formulated by a certified Master Herbalist and is a strong weapon against the debilitation of Degenerative Myelopathy.

Core Recommendation #5 - Immune Balance

Degenerative Myelopathy is an autoimmune condition in which the body's white blood cells attack its own tissue. There is existing research that indicates herbs that are beneficial for this type of condition and newer research that shows a constituent in hydrangea root that can halt the progress of autoimmune conditions. We have provided these herbs that are highly recommended for a condition like Degenerative Myelopathy in this formula.

Highly Recommended

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. Select the F3+ Forte for this condition.

Elk Velvet Antler

Our Elk Velvet Antler contains all the nutrients necessary for joint health and repair in one whole food product. But the most important nutrients for those suffering with a degenerative disease are the IGF and EGF growth factors that help to repair damaged tissue and maintain/increase lean muscle mass. Highly recommended.

Other Recommendations

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.

Systemic Enzymes

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.


Degenerative myelopathy testing: A DNA test for DM. Retrieved from

Troxel, M. (June 20, 2011). Symptoms of degenerative myelopathy. Retrieved from

Degenerative myelopathy: Fact sheet. Retrieved from

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.

VII. Natural Remedies


BioPreparation is a very special nutritional supplement for animals FAR superior to ordinary manufactured vitamin supplements! This is the original formula developed and tested with over 20 animal species.  An all-natural, whole food product composed with four of the most nutrient dense algae found on earth.

Our Core Degenerative Myelopthy Package consists of the three products we consider to form the backbone of our Natural Degenerative Myelopathy Protocol. It consists of a Myelin Sheath Glandular, our Nerve Tonic and our Daily Multi Complete. You may follow the links to view the product pages for more information.

Our Daily Multi Complete is the premier organic, whole food supplement for dogs and cats. This 3-in-1 supplement was created in response to our clients’ requests to simplify their animal’s supplement regimen, only it is sure to exceed even the most demanding pet parent’s expectations!


This is a premium Elk Velvet Antler Joint Supplement for dogs and cats. Our Elk Velvet Antler is sourced in the USA and is a natural, whole-food supplement containing a wide range of nutrients shown to help provide relief from arthritis pain and assist in promoting joint healing and repair.


Our Immune Balance Formula was developed by a certified Master Herbalist as a powerful anti-inflammatory and tonic for the thymus gland, the master immune system gland. This is just what we want in the case of an autoimmune condition as an over-reactive immune system damages the body’s own tissue resulting in dramatically increased levels of inflammation.


Our Myelin Basic Protein helps to rebuild myelin sheath (brain network connection) in pets suffering from autoimmune conditions such as degenerative myelopathy. The myelin basic protein is an important protein component that comprises myelin. Autoimmune conditions in which an animal's own antibodies begin to attack the body's proteins can damage this important protein, a process called demyelination. . When this occurs nerve signals do not travel from the brain down the spinal cord as they should. This leads to myelopathy symptoms such as weakness in the rear end and urinary or fecal incontinence.


Our Nerve Tonic is an all-natural, alcohol-free herbal tincture that offers support for debilitating nervous system conditions. Formulated by a certified Master Herbalist using organic herbs, this nerve tonic helps prevent and repair damage to delicate nerve tissue. Contains St. Johns Wort, an herb renowned for its ability to repair nerve damage, along with nerve tonics like skullcap, oat and ginger that have a strengthening and tonifying effect on the nervous system.


Nordic Naturals Omega 3 Fish Oil Supplement for Pets contains the health-promoting and anti-inflammatory Omega-3 fatty acids EPA and DHA derived from 100% wild anchovies and sardines. These nutrients are important for supporting healthy skin, coat, joints, brain, heart, and eye health. Convenient at home or when traveling. Product of Norway.


Our Repair and Strengthen has been formulated to repair damage done to the digestive tract and help build lean muscle. This formula was created for the many clients we have worked with that have a long history of NSAIDs or corticosteroid use. These drugs damage the lining of the digestive tract and in severe cases lead to ulceration of the gastric mucosa and anemia. It contains colostrum for its anti-inflammatory proline-rich polypeptides, special cold-processed whey protein for its immune boosting properties and glutamine content and freeze-dried organic aloe vera for its wound healing qualities.



Our Systemic Enzyme Formula was developed after years of work with systemic enzymes on various pet and human imbalances such as arthritis, injury, allergies and candida. This special formula is one-of-a-kind, there is nothing else quite like it on the human or pet market. It contains a blend of enzymes that will work to help with a number of different challenges that many animals will unfortunately experience in their life times.

Fast Shipping! Fast Shipping!

Request Catalog Request Catalog