degenerative myelopathy in dogsno dog is safe from this disabling disease
Many dogs are carriers of myelopathy
degenerative, this genetic disease causes paralysis
from the hindquarters. How to recognize it?
HANDICAP. degenerative myelopathy (or DM, for short) the English degenerative Myelopathy) will it be the canine evil of the century? This genetic disease causes paralysis
progressive, starting from the hindquarters (see below for how to detect the first symptoms with a small test). It then reaches the front legs, then the rib cage
(resulting in respiratory problems) and finally the heart. The dog eventually dies, usually from cardiac arrest, if his the owner has made the heavy decision to have him euthanized before. Scientists established in 2008 that the DM is the equivalent of Charcot disease in humans, also called amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS). Sickness for
where the famous "Ice Bucket Challenge" was launched this summer. to take part in it. it doesn't just happen to other people.
RACE. "All races are concerned," warns Patrick
Martin, a passionate Colleys owner, who has decided to take on grasp the subject when one of his dogs became ill. This the former breeder has gathered solid scientific documentation on its Collie-online website. He wants to alert the world today canine on the widespread of the disease.
Research conducted by a group of researchers at the University missouri on a large panel (33,747 dogs of 222 breeds different) established the DM risks for each breed. So, the dogs most often affected are the Corgis (52%, or more than one dog out of two!). Next, come the Boxers (46%), King Charles Cavalrymen (38%), the Irish Terriers (29%), australian Shepherds (26%, i. e. more than one dog in four),..."The only extrapolation of these statistics to LOF registrations 2013 gives around 10,000 breed dogs - registered in the LOF in 2013 - who are at risk of developing the disease by one year ten years," says Patrick Martin. a figure to be renewed every year, and which will even increase as the time".
GENETICS. it seems that more and more dogs
are affected by the MD. Inbreeding, which has increased at the same time as the breeds from the 19th century onwards, favored the transmission of the mutated gene (SOD1), the cause of the disease, and she continues to do so. In fact, the DM is an autosomal recessive disease. Which means that the mutation is on a gene carried by a non-sexual chromosome (i. e. neither X nor Y) and that the individual must have inherited a gene transferred from both his father and mother. the puppy, therefore, has two SOD1 genes: it is homozygous. While a puppy that has no inherited the mutated gene from only one of his parents is heterozygous.
The first is considered as "at risk": because if all the dogs with DM are mutated homozygotes, all of them mutated homozygotes do not (fortunately) declare the illness. While the second, the heterozygous, will be a carrier: it will be able to transmit the deleterious mutation to its offspring. The scientists also believe that it is possible that a heterozygous declares the DM, but later than homozygous, and generally when the dog is very old and therefore already at all end of life. This issue is still under study.
What are the signs?
The dog begins by showing some fatigue and a
lack of dynamism. Generally, masters do not
don't worry: the animal is then young senior and they put these early symptoms on the account of age. But quickly, the dog starts dragging his paws. "The first a real alert will come from the loss of ownership, reports Patrick Martin, with full knowledge of the facts. The proprioception is the ability that is given to living beings to have the knowledge, conscious or not, of the position of the body parts. The dog will let his hind legs when walking. The claws will then scrape them and make noise if the ground is hard, macadam by example. These displacement anomalies are never observed during mechanical damage to the locomotor system, such as dysplasia, for example." Finally, the absence of pain at the joints, especially the lower back, is a sign (which is not the case for people with osteoarthritis or hernia).
TEST. to know if we really need to worry, a little test is achievable. bend the dog's foot backward and make it rest on the ground with the tip of the leg bent. If he waits several seconds or stays in the folded position, it is that there is a loss of ownership and a DM must be suspected.
How to fight the disease?
Unfortunately, there is no cure. when the
the disease breaks out, the dog's life expectancy is only from 12 to 18 months. a period of time during which his condition will degrade; he will be severely handicapped. Which pushes some people owners to make the difficult choice of euthanasia, even if, according to veterinarians, the dog does not suffer physically and that it is possible to place the dog on a cart, as long as its front legs are not affected.
However, two things could have a protective role.
First of all, a specific diet, to be defined with the
veterinary, but which consists in reducing the production of free radicals by the dog's body (few carbohydrates, but intake of antioxidant vitamins such as vitamin E). "I have removed cans and croquettes containing cereals from the feeding of my dogs, all three "at risk", reports Patrick Martin. I also decided not to vaccinate them anymore.
when the vaccine contains heavy metals, such as
mercury and aluminum, as they increase the risk of certain diseases, including degenerative myelopathy". Which means that is obviously not recommended in subjects with already a favorable ground, like homozygotes.
SCREENING. but the only effective way to combat disease, remains prevention, through the screening of breeding animals (father and mother). For this purpose, there are DNA tests, at the price affordable (between 30 and 70 euros). the only way to make sure that his animal is not "at risk", nor even a carrier: so he does will not be able to transmit the deleterious gene itself to its and the disease would disappear spontaneously.
instead of to increase, as it is currently doing. "the Swiss have is taking the first step in this direction: the screening of is mandatory as part of the admission to breeding, and can be done at any age. the results are as follows transmitted to the breed club. the rules of the Swiss Club of authorizes the reproduction of healthy subjects without restriction. a healthy carrier subject cannot be mated only with a healthy subject." so, at worst, the puppy will be a carrier (one chance in two).