Improving Quality of Life for a Dog with a Serious Diagnosis (DM) #10

#canine debono moves degenerative myelopathy dogs neurological problems Mar 04, 2024

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Hear about Sheba, a German shepherd (GSD) diagnosed with degenerative myelopathy (DM), and how I helped Sheba and her owners improve her quality of life.

You'll hear why proactive care is so important and how you can be an active participant in your dog's healthcare team.

You'll learn why it's important to interrupt the "downward spiral" caused by compensations for limitations, and how specific, gentle, hands-on work helped Sheba alleviate muscle tremors and improve her comfort.

And how this approach may help your dog too, even if they're a young, healthy pup! 

This hands-on approach can benefit all dogs, not just those with specific diagnoses.  It can:

  • Improve a dog's ability to move and function
  • Reduce the risk of injury
  • Deepen the bond between dog and owner
  • Enhance communication and focus

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All information is for general educational purposes ONLY and doesn't constitute medical or veterinary advice. Please consult a qualified healthcare provider if you or your dog are unwell or injured. 


Hello. Have you ever wondered what you could do if your dog ever had a serious diagnosis or even something as commonplace as aging? Like, what are the things that you can do along with what your vet recommends to help improve your dog's quality of life? Well, today I'd really like to take a bit of a dive into this topic and get tell you the story of Sheba,

a German Shepherd who had degenerative myelopathy or a DM, as they call it. And in case we're meeting for the first time, my name is Mary Debono and this is the Easier Movement, happier Dogs podcast. And thank you so much for being here, first of all, and let me tell you the story of Sheba. Sheba was a German Shepherd who was diagnosed with degenerative myelopathy,

and you know, that's often called dm, as I mentioned. And her people were so good. Terry and Jack, they were just like such proactive dog people. In other words, they, along with the veterinarians, were really doing their research, talking to a lot of different people, and I guess a few different people. I think actually it was their holistic vet who told them to contact me for added support.

So the work I do never replaces veterinary care, but it could be a very useful adjunct. And most importantly is I teach you how to help your dog. So it's not about me having some kind of magical ability to help your dog, and I'm the only one that can do that. It's no, I teach it to you. So that's what I did with Terry and Jack.

You know, I went to the house to work with Sheba, and you know, I, if you know anything about dm, it's causes a gradual, you know, degeneration of the dog's movement. And they, they knew that, they understood that, but they wanted to do everything they could to support her as long as they could. And I just,

I give them so much credit. And, and there's a lot of you out like that out there, right? You wanna do everything you can to improve your dog's quality of life and help them have those long, happy, healthy lives. And Shees people were no exception. They wanted that as well. So first they ended up, you know, as she,

as her movement declined before I came into the picture, they did end up getting her a doggy wheelchair, which was really great. It was really helpful. And what was useful was I actually worked some of the time with Sheba in the wheelchair. So in other words, I was helping her learn how to use her body in the best way for the wheelchair so that she wasn't putting undue strain on other parts of herself,

right? Because what happens, and I know I say this all the time, but it's so, so important, so I'm gonna say it again. Dogs, just like humans get into downward spirals or vicious cycle you could call it. So in other words, one part is, you know, injured, for example, or, or there's, you know,

a lack of mobility for whatever reason, and then the dog is compensating in other parts, and then those parts get strained, those parts get sore, those parts get injured, or the dog learns to tighten and brace, right? So then you keep getting this chain of compensations that happens that lead you further and further down the a downward spiral. And this can be so debilitating to,

for the dog. So the, the original insult, if you will, whether it's DM or an injury or something like that, that would've maybe caused obviously some, some con some problem for the dog. But it's often these compensations that continue and kind of build a head of steam on their own that really create a big problem. And, you know,

in one of the episodes, I'll, I'll talk to you about a dog named Nikki, that's a dog that's in my book, grow Young with Your Dog. And so last dog I talk about in chapter seven, and she was a classic example of a dog who, yes, she had a problem in her case, spinal arthritis, but all the other compensations caused an immense problem.

And once I was able to interrupt that, and I can go into the details when I talk about her specifically, she was like a brand new dog. It was crazy. Her, her, her vets were just amazed. So let's get back to Sheba. So it was the same thing. So what I wanted to do was to make sure that her quality of life and her abilities were as good as they could be for whatever stage of this journey she was on.

So I did that by working with her, with her body to optimize how she used the wheelchair. And, and, and I have another, I'll do another episode too about another dog with a wheelchair. I've, I've worked with many dogs in wheelchairs and some specifics that I did. But in this, in Shea's case, I wanna talk to you about something else.

What happened is, at one point, and this started before I came into the picture, she started having just when she was lying down these like uncontrollable muscle tremors, and you know, Sheba had a wonderful veterinary team. I just wanna say that she had a wonderful veterinary team. She had a holistic vet, she had an allopathic vet. I mean,

they, these people spared no expense and taking care of their girl. And, but she had these muscle tremors and none, and the vets couldn't figure out what they could do to help alleviate that. They tried different things, different medications, and they still would continue. So once she started to get the muzzle tremors, they, they would just continue.

And I don't know if they were painful per se, but they were unnerving. They were, they were certainly not comfortable for her. You know, you can see her eyes would get kinda, you know, fearful. And her people, Terry and Jack really didn't like them. They were just like, what can we do? This just looks so horrible.

So what I discovered through very, very, very gentle and nuanced hands-on work was that if I supported Sheba in a very particular way, okay, it was a, a case of actually I was giving her the ability to flex her spine in a healthier way using all the parts of herself. So it was very particular way, I can't tell you exactly on this podcast how to do it,

that's why I have a group program. But when I did that, the tremors would stop and they would just completely stop. And if I held it for just, I don't know, maybe 30 seconds or so, then I could gently take my hands away and those tremors would stop for hours. So, you know, Terry and Jack were just like amazed.

So I was able to teach them, they were very interested in learning how they could help their dog. And this is, this is my mission, right? My mission is to teach you things that you can do to help your dog, okay? So you could be anywhere in the world and you can help your dog. You don't have to be,

you know, it doesn't have to be me doing it, right? So that's what I did with Shebas people is I helped them, you know, I taught them how to do this. And, you know, it was kind of cool because one of the vets actually called me and was like, what did you do? How did you do that?

How did you stop the host tremors? So I actually taught her, which is pretty cool. So, and, and that's not to say that that will work for every dog with muscle tremors or every dog with DM that has muscle tremors. It was specific to Sheba. And this is what I, you know, I've done this work for more than 30 years,

and I've learned how to gently explore and figure out how I can alleviate stress in that dog. You know, physical stress, emotional stress, whatever it happens to be. In this case, it was actually a physical stress. Again, part of that downward spiral she was in that was like unnecessary, like, it, it didn't have to be there,

it was a compensation because she was dealing with all these other disabilities, if you will, due to the dm. So by, by relieving that, right, it took pressure off of certain things and the tremors would stop. And like I said, they would stop for quite a while. And now then once her, her people knew what to do,

if they started again, they would be able to very gently go over and help her with that. And then they would stop. So it, it helped, it helped Terry and Jack as well as helping their dog Sheba, because everyone felt better when she just looked more comfortable, of course. And you could understand that, I'm sure. So, so again,

my, my point is, there are very particular things you can do with your hands to give your dog a sense of relief, relief of effort, relief of strain, relief of discomfort. And by doing that, you can start to break this downward spiral or vicious cycle that dogs and humans, we get into it too, by the way, but they often fall prey to,

right? And that can accelerate aging, it can accelerate infirmity, it can accelerate disability, right? And once you change that, once you interrupt that, it's amazing how things can get better. Even if the underlying diagnosis, like in this case with Sheba dm, that's a pretty, that's a pretty serious diagnosis. And you know, there, there's a journey that people go on with their dogs with that.

But the idea is if you can help them be as happy and comfortable and active as they can, I mean, makes a world of difference to you and certainly to your dog. 'cause when your dog is happy and you know you're happy, right? And the more they can do the, the better, right? So, so this is what we wanna do.

So I teach people how to do this. I can teach you how to do it. You can get started for free. By the way, I have a free resource that I'd love if you, if you took advantage of, if you just go to mary Debono dot com slash love dog. And that's all one word, all lowercase. So mary Debono dot com slash love dog.

Now it'll be in the show notes or whatever description. If you're watching this on YouTube, it's in the description. If you're listening on a podcast app, it'll be in the description. Or if you have any questions, you could always email me, Mary at mary Debono dot com. So I do teach this. I'm going to be opening up, I'm so excited,

an online group train coaching program to teach you exactly how you can help your dog. And I'm keeping it to a small group, and you'll have lots and lots of, of, of one-on, I should say, live time with me. So live classes, we'll do, they'll be replays if you can't make the live classes, all sorts of good stuff.

Okay? So if you sign up for the free training, you'll also be on my email list and you'll, so make sure you watch out for my emails, make sure you're getting them, because I'll announce when the doors open for that program and all the details. But the people that come in the first cohort are gonna get the best deal. I'm gonna tell you that right now.

So you might wanna jump on that, but I'll give you the details later. In the meantime, go enjoy the free resources and learn how you can help your dog. And you can start helping your dog break out of, you know, a downward spiral that they may be in. And again, this is, I wanna say, even if you have a healthy,

happy, active pup, right, you still want to start doing this, right? You still want to, because this isn't even just about, oh, once they have a diagnosis or once they get to a certain age of life where things start to slow down, then you wanna intervene. No, no, no. You wanna be a proactive member of your dog's team from the get go.

Also, I'll give you another little, little secret here. The sooner you, you expose your dog to you, doing very gentle hands-on work with your dog, the more your dog will be super receptive to it when they really, really need it. And I'm gonna say they need it at every stage, because this work is not just about the physical body.

You might say, oh, I have an 18 month old dog, and my dog is fabulous, and there's nothing wrong, and that's awesome. That is so awesome. But did you know that this work, the work that I teach, actually builds your connection with your dog? And there, there's neuroscience behind it, and I talked about it in one of the previous episodes,

but there is, there's actually a way of deepening the bond with your dog, which is pretty cool, okay? And the other thing is, it helps you and your dog get on the same page. It helps you and your dog communicate at a deeper level. It helps you, your dog focus more. So all these things will play a role in your ability to have a harmonious relationship with your dog.

So this isn't just about physical disabilities, physical problems. It can also, I've seen this also help reduce the risk of your dog being injured. I'll explain why. Big part of the work that I'll teach you is helping your dog, again, get out of these compensatory patterns that they get into. So in other words, you can help your dog move in a more balanced way.

And when you help your dog move in a more balanced way, they're more flexible. There isn't unnecessary strain on any one part. So it potentially can reduce the risk of injury. Whether your dog is just, you know, a, a fun loving dog who races around chasing balls and things, or maybe your dog is a canine athlete. Maybe you do fly ball or agility or something like that,

and you want to keep your dog, you know, at that peak performance, right? You want, you want their body and mind to be really at that peak stage. So this work can help with all of that. So it's very much about harmonizing the body and mind. That's a lot of the work I do. And very, very importantly,

you know, really deepening that connection and clarifying the communication with your dog. So it's super fun stuff. That's why I am on such a mission to share this with you. So again, go to mary Debono dot com slash love dog, and pick up that free training. It's a video training, and then we'll talk again. So remember, just like Shebas people,

Terry and Jack were so proactive in their dog's care. I wish the same for you and your dog. Okay, thank you so much for listening and joining me. And if you get any value from this podcast, please feel free to leave a review. You know, good reviews really help us get in front of more people so that more dogs and their people benefit from this.

So five star review would be so much appreciated. And I read every review, so you might get a shout out on the show too. And feel free to email me and let me know what you want me to talk about. I have a whole list of stuff I talk about, but I'm always open to more suggestions. So maybe I could talk about something that will help you and your dog very directly.

So thank you again for being here. Can't wait to share more. And hope you have a wonderful day. Bye for now.