This past week has been a little better. As I got the items in the mail I ordered, I guess it felt like I was somewhat taking things into my own hands and being proactive – I felt a little less hopeless. We’ve tried a few different types of booties and socks, and Molly actually did pretty well with them. I think I just assume she will totally hate all of these adjustments and it will be a huge struggle for her to acclimate, but she’s really surprised me so far. We’ve worn booties on her longer walks so her back toe nails have grown back out nicely. She also doesn’t seem to show drastic changes in her capabilities from day to day, which makes me hopeful the disease is progressing slowly. I think I’ve moved into the bargaining stage of the grief cycle – if she can make it comfortably to her 11th birthday in February, I will be ok (right).
So far our favorite booties are these little blue rubber balloon looking ones (in cover photo) by a company called PawZ and you can get them on Amazon:
I bought them after reading a recommendation on someone else’s blog and I’m so glad I did! They give her great traction inside on the hardwood floors, which is why I think she doesn’t totally hate them. They’re really light weight so they’re easier for her to walk around in as she normally would. They’re also more durable than you’d expect. We’ve worn them on long walks and the same pair is still holding up after a week. Thankfully they’re pretty cheap so we can keep buying them as needed. It’s like $15 for 6 pair. We’ve also tried some heavier duty booties:
She does ok in these too, but they’re a little more awkward because of the lip on the bottom, so she really has to pick her feet up with these. They also fall off more often. I like them for longer walks because the soles are definitely more durable, but because this disease causes them to drag their feet, they definitely trip her up more often than the balloon ones.
Inside the house I’ve laid out a few yoga mats in between the carpeted areas so she can walk without the booties and still have some better traction. Those have been super helpful. I haven’t tested out any of the harnesses yet because she’s still doing really well on her own and I don’t want to drastically change her daily life all at once. Thinking we will ease into those as needed.
In other news – I was doing some additional research last week and stumbled upon the below article titled “Degenerative Myelopathy Dogs Got Good News from The University of Missouri.”
First of all, what are the odds? Mizzou is two hours away from us and has an extensive research center at their veterinary school for Degenerative Myelopathy. The good news in a nutshell is this:
1) There may be a new way to accurately confirm a DM diagnosis (vs. diagnosis of exclusions, autopsy)
2) They’ve discovered a genetic link between DM in dogs and ALS in humans (Lou Gehrig’s Disease) and are testing a similar treatment in dogs that they’ve seen strong results with in humans to drastically slow the progression of the disease.
They’re now looking for dogs that are in the early stages of this diagnosis to participate in a clinical trial for the new drug. It’s administered via injection into their lower spinal cord while they are under anesthesia. They need a total of 16 dogs (Boxers, Corgis, other – age 9+), 12 of which will get the treatment, 4 will serve as the control group. That would mean each dog has an 80% chance of getting the treatment. Needless to say, I emailed the woman running this study right away to find out more. Does Molly qualify? When does it start/end? What are the risks? Have they ever done this study before? If they see significant improvement at the end of the trial in the dogs who received the drug, would the other 4 dogs then get the treatment as well? Etc. She emailed me back pretty quickly asking for videos of Molly walking from a few different angles so they could see how progressed she is. Obviously, I have multiple videos of Molly readily available on my phone, so I sent those over immediately. Then I teetered on the border of persistently following up and harassment to make sure the videos were what they needed to make a decision on if Molly would qualify.
They think she will! She got back to me saying Molly looked like she was in the early stages of DM and put me in touch with a few other vets helping run the study. They sent over a long document outlining the requirements to see if we were still interested in participating. I read through everything and still had a few questions, of course, and am now waiting
anxiously patiently to hear back. Until then I will continue to harass follow up with them to see if this study makes sense for Molly.
Hopefully I will have an update by next week. Stay tuned!