What is DM?
DM (dermatomyositis) is a devastating genetic disease of the skin and muscle,
which afflicts shetland sheepdogs, collies and their crosses. The skin lesions consist of hair
loss with or without skin redness, scaling and crusting of the face, ears, legs/feet and tail tip.
One or more of these areas of the body may be affected. In addition, some dogs may have muscular
involvement. Sometimes this muscle involvement is so pronounced that it results in muscle atrophy
(wasting). Other cases may suffer from megaesophagus (enlarged food tube) with the end result of aspiration pneumonia.
In milder cases the dogs may just appear to be sloppy eaters or have a strange high stepping gait.
Shetland Sheepdogs are fortunate because the muscle involvement is relatively rare. Stress, such
as that associated with the hormone fluctuations of heat cycle, will make the symptoms of DM worsen.
Intact females appear to be more subject to hormore related stresses than intact males. Stress of
travel, moving or family upsets may also make symptoms worse. The only way to diagnose DM is with a biopsy.
How is DM Inherited?
DM is currently thought to be autosomal dominant with incomplete expression. This means
there are no carriers of DM. Approximately half the offspring of a DM affected animal may inherit the
disease. However, not all genetically affected animals express symptoms. This is what makes breeding
shelties and collies so difficult. Currently there are several research projects underway to locate
the gene causing dermatomyositis and formulate a DNA test for DM. It is theorized that the predisposition
for DM may be inherited or the disease itself is inherited, but it may take some sort of "trigger" to cause
the symptoms of DM to appear. This trigger may be variable types of stress, from illness to hormonal changes
to home changes. DM has shown up in all of the major pedigrees in the sheltie world and it will continue to
*****2012 DM Study Information Request Flyer*****
*****2012 DM Study Informed Consent Form*****
QUESTIONS? WANT COPIES?
If you have any questions regarding DM in dogs, the care of DM affected dogs
or if you would like copies of any of the information on this website, please contact
Sherry Lindsey, RN BSN
PO BOX 310233
New Braunfels, TX 78131-0233
(If you leave a voice message and your call is not returned within twenty four hours, please email.)
Copies of all material are available for a small donation to cover printing and postage costs.
We welcome other stories of living with DM dogs and photos of DM dogs
that you might like to share with us. Please send all information to
Sherry Lindsey RN BSN at the above email address—please put “DM” in the subject line.
Updated on February 26, 2012
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