Affecting the muscles
Gravis in Dogs
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Myasthenia Gravis: a Neuromuscular Disease in Canines
The neuromuscular disease known as Myasthenia Gravis (MG)
presents itself with extreme weakness. What happens is that
certain nerve receptors become unable to function properly,
and this prevents the muscles from contracting properly.
This is a congenital disease in some dog breeds. For
instance, Myasthenia Gravis is known to be genetically
acquired in Springer Spaniels,
Jack Russell Terriers and
Smooth Fox Terriers.
This disease also sometimes spontaneously occurs in older
dogs. When this happens it is considered to be an immune-
mediated disease. One of the first signs in this case is
enlargement of the stomach because of the muscle weakness.
This progresses to excessive swallowing, then regurgitation
that can cause inhalation pneumonia.
Myasthenia Gravis can affect one muscle group, or all,
leaving the dog practically paralyzed. Once a dog develops
this disease it becomes less active which also leads to loss
of muscle due to inactivity. Myasthenia Gravis is a serious
disease and if you have an older dog or a dog from the
affected breeds you need to watch for muscle weakness.
In the case of the older dog, once the disease is suspected
X-rays should be done to determine whether the stomach has
been affected. Myasthenia Gravis is usually tested for by
giving the dog a shot of edrophonium hydrochloride. If
immediate improvement of the dog's condition occurs then it
is assumed to have MG. Lab tests are usually conducted next
to confirm that Myasthenia Gravis is the cause of the muscle
Dogs that get myasthenia gravis later in life can lead a fairly
normal life with treatment. Because of the associate risk
for aspiration pneumonia you should get your dog elevated
dog dishes, and after it eats make sure that the dog remains
standing for ten minutes so that the food ends up where it
A dog can live a quality life for a long time when they
suffer from this disease if you are careful and prevent your
dog from getting Aspiration Pneumonia. In fact there will be
periods of time where you dog may go into remission. That is
why periodic monitoring is necessary for any dog with this
Because of the particular drug that a dog is given for this
disease you have to be very careful when giving your dog any
other medications. Drugs will sometimes interact with the
medication for Myasthenia Gravis, causing it to not be as
effective. If you dog has this disease be sure to do your
best to monitor your dog's health as this is the key to
keeping it as healthy and happy as possible.
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