This condition, whose full name is Chronic Degenerative Radiculomyelopathy, is a serious degenerative disease affecting particularly German Shepherds. It is a non-painful but progressively disabling condition, affecting the spine.
Affected dogs start to lose coordination in their hind quarters and can drag their hind feet, rubbing the claws, and their hind feet can knuckle over. It appears mainly to affect the nerves of position sense (proprioception) and is ‘ascending' in progression. In its extreme stages, the dog eventually loses use of the hind legs and, if allowed to continue, the front legs will eventually be affected.
The outlook is not good, whatever treatment is considered, but we have seen some very positive responses in a few cases, especially those who are over nine years old at the onset of signs. Some cases have gone on to survive for an apparently normal lifespan, with good mobility.
It appears to be an autoimmune-type disease. We suspect that vaccination may play a part in the aetiology, in some cases, with German Shepherds showing a particular susceptibility in this way. We have even seen several cases of sudden onset after a dog has been given a double booster vaccination, after the annual vaccinations had been allowed to lapse. There is no science to support giving double boosters in this way and it is clearly quite dangerous.
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