I initially updated my old thread, but as little traffic as the dog boards get, I figured a new thread with an accurate title would be more visible.
Muffin is my 16 year old mutt, generally in good health for his age. Over the last three or four years, arthritis in his hips has been slowing him down, but has been under control with aspirin. The last few months, however, his mobility has been getting noticeably worse, and he's started leaving small feces around the house where he sleeps. I initially thought it was just progression of the arthritis and old age, but the vet has diagnosed degenerative myelopathy - a nerve condition which is in some ways similar to HED in rats. It has no treatment or cure, and can progress to full paralysis anywhere from a few months to a couple years after initial symptoms appear. Unfortunately, his early symptoms (which involve hind end mobility) were masked by his arthritis, so he's probably had myelopathy for over a year now. His time left with us is likely going to be measured in months, not years.
Since there is no treatment for myelopathy, the goal is just to keep the dog as comfortable and active as possible until euthanasia becomes necessary. My heart is breaking thinking of that, because Muffin is still 100% mentally, and really has no other major health problems (aside from hearing loss, which doesn't seem to bother him at all) - if you don't see him walking, he looks and acts like a dog half his age. In the meantime, my vet and I have decided that the best course is to treat his arthritis aggressively so that he has all the mobility he can, and I actually have seen some improvement after just a few days on his new regimen of Tramadol (pills twice a day) and Adequan (injections twice a week) in addition to aspirin. He's no longer crossing his hind legs when he stands or leaning on furniture to support himself, though he still often can't get up on his own. He also hasn't left a sleep-poop (we've taken to calling them grenades) in the last few days, though I don't think I can attribute that to the arthritis treatment.
Aside from medicine, the vet prescribes exercise - walks for as far as he can go, but at his own slow pace, twice a day (hydrotherapy is popular for DM, but not an option for Muffin, who is deathly afraid of water). We've invested in a sturdy ramp over our stairs and a sling for lifting him in and out of the car. Some DM dogs do well with carts (i.e. dog wheelchairs), but we probably won't go that route with Muffin, since he already has incontinence and the vet suspects front limb involvement - by the time his hind end is fully paralyzed, the other symptoms will make him not a good candidate for wheels.
I'd love to know if anyone here has been through this disease, and what your experiences were like. I'll try to keep updates here about his progress. Also, anyone dealing with long-term management of arthritis - what do you think of this regimen? I had never heard of Adequan before, but my vet thought it was at least worth a try.