Degenerative Myelopathy: Nutrition and Exercise

1/27/16

Q:

I THOUGHT I WOULD ASK YOU IF YOU EVER USED DR CLEMMONS PROTOCOL FOR DEGENERATIVE MYELOPATHY IN DOGS, AND DO YOU PUT ANY FAITH IN IT? DOES IT WORK AT ALL. OR IS IT THE EXERCISE THAT HELPS THE MOST? THANK YOU, MARK. LOST MY LAB COAL TO DM, RECENTLY, AND IT JUST IS KILLING ME , THANKS AGAIN.

A:

Hi Mark-
First, I wish you peace and healing regarding the pain and loss of Coal…I would already guess you are a good dog dad just based on your having cared for a DM dog and seeming like you are pursuing information to help with your thought processes.

I have been familiar with Dr. Clemmons’ protocol for about 10 years (I think…time flies…), and prior to my coming into veterinary rehab, I had already about a 30 year background in progressive and varied approaches to nutrition. I have worked with many humans over the years to improve health status when they have been fighting a debilitating illness, and I have worked with world-class athletes to hone and “perfect” the body machine for competition. We began eliminating preservatives and colorings from our house at my mom’s instigation in the mid-’70’s and ate almost no refined foods at all, making many food items from scratch for our family to eat. I was also a distance runner in high school, and Mom got into nutrient supplementation for endurance sports, too.

All that to say that I tend to have at this point a wide and broad history of work with nutrition ideas, and I’ve been able to see effects of a lot of different protocol on a lot of types of beings. A shorter answer is that nutrition is very important in the healing process. People considered experts on the subject don’t all agree on a recipe for this nutrititive health. I don’t agree in total with most of the “experts” whose protocol I read, and I do read a LOT of research, too.

I am a big fan of eliminating all sorts of additional items in the nutrition protocol, in a less-is-more methodology, and beginning by giving the body only a bare minimum of basic, whole, biologically-appropriate nutrition for a 2-4 week foundation at the least. The body is designed to do a lot of good with the right amount of the right types of fuel. In the U.S. we tend to overdo it. We feed/eat too much. We feed/eat too much of biologically inappropriate foods. And we pile on a bunch of “good” foods and supplements in the hope and with the notion that they will right additional wrongs, as it were.

Successes in nutrition occur, despite inexact protocol, and with incomplete pictures, more of the same inaccurate protocol is pursued. I have seen the best results regarding nutrition for any problem be very minimized and simplified. Only after a few weeks of clean and lean animal protein and minimal non-grain-based carb sources should supplements be added. This is because many, many fringe issues will clear up as the body is allowed to pursue it’s own healing to whatever extent it is able. Short story.

Without going more into the nutrition aspect, I will say proper nutrition plays a big part in any recovery, but it is equally or even more important to focus on proper exercise to make real gains. Exercise of the right type for whatever condition will make a huge difference regardless of the nutrition protocol, however good nutrition without the right type of challenging exercise for the condition will make less of a difference.

There were no good exercise protocol broadly shared (or anywhere that I found) for neurological issues for small animals in veterinary rehab when I came into this work in 2004. I developed a lot of helpful foundational exercises and drills for strength and proprioception in an ordered method over time to use successfully in my practice. I intend to publish them more definitively this year. In the meantime, all the different types of neuro cases I dealt with, including D.M., have made progress so long as they were able to begin with my foundational 4 week exercise base program. If the pets I encountered could not move on their own, I had a different set of protocol and drills, depending on the condition. As they progressed to auto-ambulating, most would get up to doing my intro program. Right now that is only published under this title: Guidelines for Home Rehabilitation of Your Dog: Instead of Surgery for Torn Knee Ligament: The First Four Weeks, Basic Edition

Because I have broad and extensive experience utilizing principles of exercise physiology and functional recovery exercise, I see the tremendous benefit to adding the right type and amount of the right exercise and drills to any being’s life. I have been working over 10 years to get more exercise-physiology-based protocol into veterinary small animal rehab. I hope to be able to compile data from my cases and publish more of the successful protocol I’ve developed through this year.

I hope this helps some with your thought processes. I would guess it doesn’t help much to know my perspective regarding how important the right amount of the right kind of exercise is, mostly because it’s not a view that is widely promoted in vet medicine…yet! But I think little strides are being made. In the meantime, some of the same barriers and lack of cross-training in human medical science exist, too. For more on some of my favorite and some of the best sport science information, visit the National Strength and Conditioning Association and the American College of Sports Medicine.

Blessings-
Deborah

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