Daily controlled physiotherapy increases survival time in dogs with suspected degenerative myelopathy

J Vet Intern Med. Jul-Aug 2006;20(4):927-32. doi: 10.1892/0891-6640(2006)20[927:dcpist]2.0.co;2.


The purposes of the study reported here were to evaluate the signalment and clinical presentation in 50 dogs with degenerative myelopathy, to evaluate whether mean survival time was significantly affected by various means of physiotherapy performed in 22 dogs, and to determine whether neurologic status, anatomic localization, or age at onset had an influence on survival time in dogs that received physiotherapy. We found a significant (P < .05) breed predisposition for the German Shepherd Dog, Kuvasz, Hovawart, and Bernese Mountain Dog. Mean age at diagnosis was 9.1 years, and both sexes were affected equally. The anatomic localization of the lesion was spinal cord segment T3-L3 in 56% (n = 28) and L3-S3 in 44% (n = 22) of the dogs. Animals that received intensive (n = 9) physiotherapy had longer (P < .05) survival time (mean 255 days), compared with that for animals with moderate (n = 6; mean 130 days) or no (n = 7; mean 55 days) physiotherapy. In addition, our results indicate that affected dogs which received physiotherapy remained ambulatory longer than did animals that did not receive physical treatment.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Dog Diseases / physiopathology*
  • Dog Diseases / therapy*
  • Dogs
  • Female
  • Male
  • Massage / veterinary
  • Physical Conditioning, Animal / physiology*
  • Physical Therapy Modalities / veterinary*
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Spinal Cord Diseases / physiopathology
  • Spinal Cord Diseases / therapy
  • Spinal Cord Diseases / veterinary*
  • Survival Analysis
  • Swimming / physiology
  • Walking / physiology