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DNA Strand

Degenerative Myelopathy

Degenerative myelopathy (DM) is a slowly progressive nonpainful paresis and ataxia usually affecting large breed dogs (especially the German Shepherd Dog).For many years the etiology of DM remained unknown. A mutation in the superoxide dismutase 1 (SOD1) gene is now associated with this disease. The uniformity of clinical signs, histopathology, age, and breed predilections suggested an inherited basis for DM. Segregation of DM in families has been reported in the Siberian Husky, Pembroke Welsh Corgi, and Chesapeake Bay Retriever. Dogs testing homozygous for the mutation are at risk for developing DM.

Diagnosis and management of dogs with degenerative myelopathy: A survey of neurologists and rehabilitation professionals

This paper reviews current practices of neurology clinicians and physical rehabilitation professionals in the diagnosis and management of DM. 

The study finds that the majority of dogs diagnosed with DM have not undergone advanced imaging; the combination of history, neurological findings, and genetic testing is heavily relied upon. 

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Clinical Characterization of a Familial Degenerative Myelopathy in Pembroke Welsh Corgi Dogs


This study aimed to characterize the clinical presentation and histopathology of familial degenerative myelopathy in Pembroke Welsh Corgi dogs.

Median duration of clinical signs before euthanasia was 19 months. Median age at euthanasia was 13 years. All dogs were nonambulatory paraparetic or paraplegic, and 15 dogs had thoracic limb weakness at euthanasia. Axonal and myelin degeneration of the spinal cord was most severe in the dorsal portion of the lateral funiculus


Breed Distribution of SOD1 Alleles Previously Associated with Canine Degenerative Myelopathy

The distribution of the mutant SOD1 alleles is evaluated across multiple breeds.

The SOD1:c.118A allele was found in cross-bred dogs and in 124 different canine breeds whereas the SOD1:c.52T allele was only found in Bernese Mountain Dogs. Most of the dogs with histopathologically confirmed degenerative myelopathy were SOD1:c.118A homozygotes, but 8 dogs with histopathologically confirmed degenerative myelopathy were SOD1:c.118A/G heterozygotes

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