ALS Ice Bucket Challenge Can Help Your Pets, Too!

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The ice bucket challenge to raise money for ALS research is everywhere, but did you know it can help your pets too?

ALS (amyotrophic lateral sclerosis) is a degenerative neuropathy that causes human patients to lose their ability to use their muscles to move.  Dogs can suffer from a similar nervous system disease called canine degenerative myelopathy.  This disease causes dogs to slowly loose function of their hind legs until they can no longer walk and begin having incontinence issues.  Like ALS, there is currently no cure for canine degenerative neuropathy.

Due to a recent “One Health Initiative”, scientists and doctors from veterinary and human medicine are sharing their research with each other better than ever before. So, research in human medicine is being used to address diseases seen in veterinary medicine, and vice versa.  This means that ALS research funded by money raised from the ice bucket challenge has the potential to provide treatment options for not only human ALS patients, but also dog neuropathy patients.

Whether you donate to the ALS Association (http://www.alsa.org/) or an organization that funds veterinary research such as Morris Animal Foundation (http://www.morrisanimalfoundation.org/), support for medical research is important to help veterinarians and human medical doctors continue to improve the care provided for their patients. Another way to help is to ask your legislators to maintain current federal funding of medical research.

In summary: Dumping a bucket of ice water over your head to raise awareness of the need for funding of ALS research may help develop treatments for dogs (and other animals) suffering from similar neurologic diseases.

By: Dr. Miller
Lakewood Animal Hospital