DM or CE? - Page 2

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by Jenni78 on 25 April 2018 - 18:04

It is not universal that CE causes pain...or at least, not obvious pain. With spinal cord compression due to CE (or ruptured discs), you might see numbness, not pain. I would not discount the possibility in a dog just because it didn't "seem" painful. Sometimes the more noticeable signs of pain happen years prior to the numbness and people fail to connect what happened 3 years ago with the dog's tail to why the dog's legs are numb now. So, while DM is never painful, it's not entirely accurate to say CE is ALWAYS painful (and many dogs are so stoic they won't show typical pain signs that an inexperienced owner would notice.

What hexe said is so right- there is, unfortunately, a quickness with which vets want to diagnose any GSD with spinal or neuro issues as having DM. I've yet to meet someone who claims their dog died of DM that actually knows that to be true, sadly.

by astrovan2487 on 25 April 2018 - 21:04

My young working line GSD just had surgery for CE. I had no idea this was such a common issue with GSDs. Dog started showing very mild signs about a year ago. I immediately took her to the vet and got multiple x rays, OFA prelims done, everything came back good. About a month ago dog came up lame after a jump and took her to a specialist, after an MRI showed 90% spinal compression we decided surgery was the only option. Surgeon found the ruptured disc was hard as bone, it had probably been there a long time. We had been training for IPO and the dog never once did not want to work, never once came up lame before this. I took her to one of the best spinal surgeons in the country, surgery was $4700. But it cost more than that just to diagnose, x rays, MRI, second opinions were probably another $6000 so it gets very expensive very quick.

I had big plans for my dog but now she'll probably have to retire from IPO at a very young age. Unfortunately this seems to be a common issue in GSDs that do IPO but I think it gets misdiagnosed often.


by Hundmutter on 26 April 2018 - 06:04

Don't think anyone here has so far posted that CE 'always' is accompanied by pain, Jenn. And equally I have seen people maintain sometimes that their DM dog DID have a degree of pain. Though given the nerve damage involved in the latter condition, it is difficult to imagine how/why.

But as a general 'rule of thumb' ...


Something in Astrovan's post I never thought about before: is CE diagnosed much in non-IPO dogs ? Is this a bone 'thing' and genetic, (as I have hitherto been led to believe), or is it more often a result of environmental injury ?

You guys really have the edge on CE cases in America; it seems to be not uncommon -  but we hardly see it, in any breeds, over here. Maybe our vets are missing a trick.  Of course, there are still far fewer dogs working IPO in the UK.

by astrovan2487 on 26 April 2018 - 21:04

I will ask the vet at her follow up if he sees CE often in non IPO/working dogs. I'm sure it happens but with a dog that lives a normal pet life the issue might not be obvious to the owner until the dog is older and then just attribute the issues to arthritis or DM.


by Hundmutter on 27 April 2018 - 07:04


by Jenni78 on 27 April 2018 - 18:04

No, Linda, you misunderstood what I was saying. How many of these "DM dogs" who "showed pain" actually were necropsied and shown to have DM? I bet none , or few. These CE dogs can be super tough and not SHOW it, or, the compression can actually happen in such a way that they DON'T have pain...but regardless, they DON'T have DM and we are wasting so much time for these poor dogs, testing, money, etc. and they have a different condition. I cannot wait until there is a real test for DM in a dog who is alive that can force vets and owners to push for another diagnosis on a dog who doesn't have it. I feel so many are being deemed hopeless and they might not be.

I concur with Astrovan.

I'm also shocked at the number of emails and phone calls I get from folks who lost their dog and thought that weakness in the rear was just a normal part of aging past 8-9yrs :o. Then they say the dog had DM, want everything tested for it, yet, their dog probably never had DM and they may well end up in the same place if we don't learn to differentiate and test accordingly. Stop breeding dogs producing CE. I think the LUW program the SV is doing is super.

by astrovan2487 on 27 April 2018 - 20:04

Usually if surgery is done before the dog gets paralyzed or incontinent, the outlook for dogs with CE can be pretty good, it's not a death sentence like DM is. It's sad to think how many dogs got to the the late stages and were just put down because it was thought to be DM when a surgery may very well have returned the dog to normal.

I have had a lot of people tell me they've owned dogs that had surgery for CE and the dog went on to work for years after. Unfortunately with my dog since the disc material was calcified the surgery did not get rid of as much as would have been ideal. There are no dogs in her lines known to have had issues with CE, breeder made sure to stay away from dogs with back problems. Either way I was not going to breed her, just wanted to compete with her.

Jenni you are 100% right about the dogs not showing it, it's very hard to see until it gets really bad. Pretty sure my dog had it a year ago, she started having touch sensitivity to strangers, then issues with feet touching the jump but she was getting better at it, didn't even start jumps till 18 months old. Even when she had the injury a month ago it was not obvious , just a slight lean to the one side.

by Hundmutter on 27 April 2018 - 21:04

Ah ! You won't get any disagreement from me on any of that !

by GSCat on 02 May 2018 - 14:05

My vet knew right away it wasn't DM, and by the end of the visit had diagnosed CE. It was still early, but he didn't do the surgery, and the places he recommended were way, way out of reach financially. In a perfect world, finances would not play such a huge role in defining treatment options and ultimate outcomes, but the reality is that they do. I will forever feel bad for my dog (and cat that still misses her) because of this.


The first CE sign in my dog was not giving as much notice it was time to go out and sliding as she would go around the corner on the slick kitchen floor when she was in a hurry to go out. I had no idea anything was actually wrong until later, when she would fall going around the corner on the slick kitchen floor when she was in a hurry to go out. Then she started barking at sounds outside, whereas she had never done so before. Sounds funny, but I think she was warning me because maybe she knew she couldn't protect me as she felt she should. As things progressed, she would yip in pain when she moved around in her sleep, no longer slept on her back or curled up, no longer raced to the door when it was time to go out, and had a hard time going up and down the short flight of stairs to go outside. The krill oil and prescriptions helped for awhile and I used a towel under her belly to help walking, especially on the stairs. Later, I had to outright carry her in and out and to the pee/poo area. Finally, she could no longer hold herself up to pee and poo without help. Along the way, she did become incontinent and had a really hard time with this because she couldn't differentiate between stuff happening due to medical issues and knowing she wasn't supposed to go in the house Because of the front disc issue, the Ginger Lead seemed to aggravate things, and even a 4-wheel wheelchair was a no-go. Even through all this she was happy, interested in life, and interacted well with the cat and me. But the day she fell trying to poo, just lay there not even trying to get up, and the spark was gone from her soft brown eyes, was one of the hardest days we ever had.

I hope this helps someone else recognize early signs of CE so early vet intervention, when it is most likely to be successful, can be sought.


by astrovan2487 on 11 May 2018 - 02:05

The surgeon seems to think that CE is genetic and does happen with non working dogs. Trying to find that Helmut Raiser article about CE/spondylosis, I think I may have found it but it's in Spanish and the translation is not great. If anyone could point me in the right direction I would greatly appreciate it.

If anyone knows Spanish here it is

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