cbd oil for dogs with degenerative disc disease

Acupuncture Can Help Dogs

Intervertebral disc disease (IVDD)—what some call a “slipped disc”—can smolder or it can strike full-blown, leaving your dog in excruciating pain and unable to walk. Initially, signs that a dog is afflicted can be subtle: a hesitation about going up or down stairs, paws that knuckle under or cross over, nail scuffing, an arched back, a tense abdomen. Dogs may shy from their food bowls to avoid bending their necks, or cry when picked up.

IVDD causes compression of the spinal cord and leads to weakness, pain and sometimes paralysis, and is divided into two categories: Hansen Type I and II. Type I often swoops in suddenly, usually in younger, smaller dogs ages three to six. The center jelly of the vertebral disc, called the nucleus pulposus, degenerates, then ruptures and presses on the spinal cord. Not surprisingly, the chondrodystrophic breeds (dogs with short legs and longbacks)—Dachshunds, Corgis, Lhasa Apsos, Shih Tzus and Beagles—are predisposed to this type.

Type II, which is typically seen in large dogs like German Shepherds, Labradors and Dobermans ages eight to ten, progresses more slowly. Though the disc doesn’t burst its center, it bulges between the vertebrae and impinges on the spinal cord, causing chronic pain and weakness.

To rule out fractures, bone infections and cancers, your vet will start with X-rays, but a contrast myelogram, CT or MRI (all of which are often done at specialty centers) is needed to visualize the spinal cord and determine the nature and location of the problem.


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In addition to type, IVDD is described by level of severity. Roughly, grade I involves pain; grade II, unsteadiness; grade III, weakness that prevents standing or walking; grade IV, paralysis but able to feel deep pain when the toes are pinched; and grade V, complete paralysis with loss of deep pain.

Dogs with grades 1 through IV will likely be managed with pain meds, muscle relaxants and strict rest for up to a month, and are often referred for physical therapy or Class IV laser treatments. Depending on the duration of neurological deficits and amount of pain, surgery may also be recommended for dogs with grades II, III and IV. Because the disease can change quickly, even dogs diagnosed with lower-grade IVDD need sequential exams to ensure that the condition is not progressing.

When a dog is completely unable to walk, decisions have to be made swiftly. Dogs who stay in the grade V stage longer than 48 hours often remain paralyzed despite intervention, while up to 50 percent of those who have surgery in the first 24 hours may regain their ability to walk.

IVDD surgery removes compromised discs, hemorrhage and adjacent bone compressing the spinal cord. With severe disease, it’s the best chance for a dog to walk again. It does, of course, also entail expenses and risks that not everyone is able or willing to undertake. What other options do we have?

Thankfully, veterinarians have been studying other modalities to treat IVDD, acupuncture among them. In 2007, a team lead by A.M. Hayashi found that dogs of all IVDD grades recovered more quickly with electroacupuncture (EAP) combined with a standard Western medical approach than Western treatment alone (JAVMA 231[6]: 913–918).

In 2009, A. Laim et al. reported that dogs receiving EAP and pain medications after surgery for acute IVDD were less likely to need higher doses of pain meds during the first 12 hours than those who received meds alone. These patients also had significantly lower pain scores 36 hours after treatment (JAVMA 234[9]: 1141–1146).

A 2010 study compared three options for IVDD dogs with severe neurologic deficits of greater than 48 hours’ duration: decompressive surgery (DSX), EAP, and DSX followed by EAP (DSX + EAP). The study, led by J.G.F. Joaquim, showed that EAP was more effective than DSX + EAP, and that DSX alone was the least successful. These dogs had severe, long-standing IVDD in the thoracic and lumbar (thoracolumbar) spine, and in the past, their prognosis would have been dismal. (JAVMA 236[11]: 1225–1229).

How does acupuncture work? While there is some debate over definitions, it’s generally accepted that acupuncture points (acupoints) concentrate clusters of free nerve endings, small blood and lymphatic vessels, and mast cells, part of the immune system. A veterinarian certified in acupuncture inserts small, sterile needles into specific points to stimulate muscles, nerves, circulation and the immune system. For IVDD, one needle may be placed at the top of the spine by the shoulders, and a second above the pelvis, which moves the qi and stagnated energy caused by the disc disease.

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Functional MRIs reveal that acupuncture activates pain-associated brain stem regions. The specific mechanism of acupuncture on IVDD has not yet been fully explained, but it’s surmised that it reduces local swelling, inflammation and pain; decreases cord compression, scar formation and tissue oxygen deprivation; and restores damaged nerves.

When compared to the use of needles alone, EAP has been found to increase the body’s response to acupuncture. In EAP, needles in the skin are connected by metal clips; electro-impulses move between the clips and into the needles, producing sensations that range from a tingling to a vibration. Frequency and intensity are determined by the type of condition being treated. Sessions usually last from 10 to 30 minutes, and dogs often fall asleep during treatment.

EAP has a cumulative effect and is typically prescribed as a series of treatments, every one to two weeks for at least a few months. Appropriate Chinese herbal formulas are often prescribed at the same time to reduce pain and enhance the effects of acupuncture. Dogs then proceed to maintenance acupuncture at one- to three-month intervals to prevent recurrence.

Ideally, your dog will never go through the pain of IVDD, and you won’t have the worry. But if you do find yourself up against a down dog, it’s good to know that adding acupuncture to the treatment repertoire may help your friend get back on all fours.

DM (CDRM) In The German Shepherd. The BEST! Information & Advice ONLINE that YOU need to KNOW on Canine Degenerative Myelopathy.

Mention DM to anyone who has ever owned a German Shepherd and they will all know immediately what you are referring to. DM is a terrible, progressive condition which will ultimately lead to the euthanasia of the dog because it has become paralysed at the back end and can become doubly incontinent, although it's usually the bowels that they lose control of rather than the bladder. The brain remains alerted and the front end remains normal, so watching your poor dog trying to drag itself around on its front limbs is heartbreaking, which makes the decision to put to sleep even harder. Some owners do resort to doggie wheels and many dogs do very well on these, although it takes a great commitment from the owner.

Sadie Loves Her Wheels

A post mortem will show demyelination (loss of the insulating sheath) of the spinal cord, destruction of some large axons (nerve cells leading from the cord to smaller branch nerves), and abnormal cells (or certain cells in abnormal locations). The fact that similar signs may be seen in the brain, kidneys, and intestines, give further hints that the cause of the disease is a failure of the immune system.


DM is an immune-mediated, degenerative condition whereby the myelin sheath surrounding the nerves is destroyed. This degeneration occurs in the dorsolateral funiculi in the white matter of the spinal cord, and in the dorsal spinal roots which is why it affects hind limbs first and eventually bowel and bladder functions. Symptoms are similar to those seen in MS sufferers.

DM is a disease that predominantly affects German Shepherds although there are now other breeds being affected, particularly the larger breeds and Corgis!

German Shepherds have less effective immune systems than most other pedigree dogs and are at greater risk of immune-mediated disorders. They have lower IgA levels making them particularly prone to skin and gut disorders. Anything that further compromises the dog's immune system will exacerbate the problems. We have already published at length the dangers of vaccines and spot on medications for parasites.

Typical stance of a dog with DM

Signs and Symptoms

This condition usually presents in middle-aged or older dogs and is more commonly seen in males than females. Owners generally notice that their dog is dragging it's back feet, scuffing the top of the nails and as the disease progresses they may develop sores on their feet. The dog loses awareness of where their back end is, they criss-cross their back legs and may trip themselves up. If the dog's foot is placed in a knuckled over position the dog falls or is slow to lift and place it properly. Similarly, if legs are moved away from the body (abducted), or moved inwards towards the body (adducted) the dog does not immediately replace it in correct alignment with the body.

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Scuffed nails and lesions on hind feet caused by dragging.


Diagnosis is not definitive and it's a question of your vet ruling out other diseases that may present in a similar way – such as disc problems, a spinal tumour, HD and Cauda Equina Syndrome (pressure on the spinal cord).


Conventional vets will tell you that there is no treatment but I'm sure they won't miss an opportunity to prescribe some toxic medications and insist that you continue with yearly vaccines and other nasties like spot-on medications. All these nasties will, of course, further compromise the immune system – AVOID AT ALL COSTS.

Of course, anyone who goes against conventional thinking is labelled a tinfoil hat wearer, a quack or worse, but then the alternative thinkers haven't prostituted themselves to big pharma in the name of profit. Neither do they dish out poisons without a shred of evidence to support their use. For instance, ask your vet to supply you with the clinical trial evidence to support yearly vaccinations – in fact, vaccinations per se. They will become angry or defensive or both because they know there is ZERO evidence. Modern vets are making your pets ill and sending them to an early death.

The lengths that Big Pharma will go to protect its interests: Holistic Doctor Death Series: Over 60 Dead In Just Over A Year.

I know from many years in rescue, that when a much-loved pet develops DM, their owners are devastated and willing to try anything.

An Alternative View On Treatments.

An expert in the field of DM is Dr Roger Clemmons from the University of Florida Veterinary School and he has found 2 medications which appear to prevent progression or result in clinical remission of DM in many (up to 80%) of the patients.

These are some of the factors that Dr Clemmons has shown that affect the progression of DM.

Diet – since it is believed that toxicity, possibly heavy metal toxicity plays a role in DM, then diet is very important. Avoid all processed dog foods especially kibble and prepare home cooked food for your dog – preferably organic. Consider adding tofu as it contains many valuable flavonoids and other ingredients which promote health.

Raw garlic is antibacterial and antifungal as well as having an anti-inflammatory and anti-biotic. Add in ginger for it's anti-emetic and calming effect along with mustard which improves digestion and bowel function.

It is important to maintain optimal weight if your dog has DM, as being overweight will only add to mobility problems.

Exercise – regular aerobic exercise in the prevention of chronic degenerative diseases is important and the two best forms are walking and swimming. Hydrotherapy is particularly beneficial as it is none weight bearing, doesn't stress the joints and improves muscle tone. Most GSD's love water too.

Sadie Having Hydrotherapy

Vitamin B complex – may help in a neural generation. Dogs with DM need the higher dose which should contain 100mg of most of the B components.

Nutritional Yeast – Engevita makes one with added B12 which dogs love. Just sprinkle on their food.

Vitamin E – antioxidant and slows progression of DM. The dose should be 2000 IU daily.

Vitamin C – also antioxidant and works in conjunction with vitamin E and potentiates its antioxidant effect.

Selenium – also works in conjunction with vitamin E. Dose should not exceed 200 µg daily.

Omega 3 – membrane stabiliser and anti-inflammatory. Ground flax seeds are a rich source.

Dr Clemmons suggests a whole list of further supplements in his paper. There is a company in the US that has developed a palatable mix of vitamins, minerals and herbs. It may be worth contacting this company to see if their products could be obtained here – WestLab Pharmacy.

Medications – Dr Clemmons has found 2 that appear to prevent progression or result in clinical remission of DM in many (up to 80%) of the patients. These medications are aminocaproic acid (EACA) and n-acetylcysteine (NAC). These can be obtained here – EACA and here for NAC.

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Hopeful News For Degenerative Neurological Disease: 'If all other diseases have been ruled out and it appears that your dog does seem to have this, we now have a comprehensive approach to this disease including diet, nutritional supplements, herbs and acupuncture that appear to help these dogs significantly.'

Other supplements that may be useful in DM.

MSM – 'MSM is a strong antioxidant, capable of binding and inactivating harmful free radicals. Overproduction of free radicals is caused by physical and mental stress, malnutrition, air pollution, heavy metals and organic contaminants in drinking water and food and radiation.' MSM is also a potent anti-inflammatory for autoimmune reactions, it also crosses the blood brain barrier and allows nerve cells to excrete products. MSM. Does your dog need it?

Turmeric – is a great detoxifier and boosts the liver's ability to metabolise fat and remove waste from the body. It must be organic, though.

CBD – better still cannabis oil which is one of the most potent medicines there is. CBD is legal but it comes from industrial hemp, so is it as effective as cannabis oil? I doubt it otherwise they wouldn't have made it legal to sell it. Of course, they have criminalised cannabis oil from marijuana. After all, they don't want you getting your hands on cheap, natural, effective cures thereby reducing the profits of the multi-billion dollar pharmaceutical industry. Don't forget that big pharma creates customers not cures.

In humans and many other species, there have been exponential rises in the incidence of autoimmune diseases over the last 50 years. Serious, chronic life-threatening illnesses have skyrocketed – diabetes, cancers, allergies, MS, dementia etc. The list is growing………

In humans and dogs, the gut protects the body from undesirables, but it is damage to our guts that is leading to the rapidly rising incidences of serious, diseases. Most of these diseases can be attributed to 'leaky gut syndrome'. When the gut is damaged, it allows these undesirables through into the blood stream where the bodies immune system launches an attack on them. The more nasties that get into the bloodstream, the greater the symptoms of the body. Look at the number of children that now suffer from allergies!!

Our guts and our pets guts are being damaged by increasing exposure to nasties all around us – antibiotics, highly processed food, herbicides, pesticides, GMO foods, pollution and worst of all, vaccinations. Now one of the biggest threats to all of us is GLYPHOSATE – it's in the food chain and sprayed all around us.

'The hypothesis is that glyphosate-induced IBS causes gut bacteria to leak into the vasculature, triggering an immune reaction and consequently an autoimmune disorder resulting in the destruction of the myelin sheath.'

These diseases are debilitating, life-shortening and very profitable for big pharma. Join the dots.


Over the last 2 decades, we have found 2 medications which appear to prevent progression or result in clinical remission of DM in many (up to 80%) of the patients. These medications are aminocaproic acid (EACA) and n-acetylcysteine (NAC).

The GSD has more than its “fair share” of immune-related problems, and they appear in the intestines, eyes, skin, and other places. The breed has many individuals with a deficiency of a particular immunoglobulin called IgA, and this genetic defect may be very close on the chromosome to genes controlling general immune problems.

The Importance of a Balanced Gut – When this is thrown off balance by any of a number of factors (antibiotics, corticosteroids, highly processed diets like kibble, and vaccinations, to name a few), the bad bacteria and yeast take over. The imbalance then causes damaging inflammation, which in turn causes leaky gut.

The occurrence of a progressive pelvic limb ataxia and paresis in the older German shepherd dog (GSD) had been recognised for many years. Originally the clinical signs were attributed to the presence of ossified plaques in the dura mater which commonly developed at the cervical and lumbar enlargements, usually on the ventral and ventrolateral aspects of the spinal cord.