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What are Myositis?

There are various types of myositis, each with different causes that range from heredity to an immune-mediated response. Such is the case with masticatory myositis, caused by antibodies targeted to attack the masticatory muscles only. As with many types of myositis, without early and aggressive treatment, muscle loss can cause severe atrophy and muscle dysfunction. This can result in conditions like blindness, an inability to eat, and an inability to walk. Inflammation can develop into cancer over time, and lesions can occur that involve swelling, hemorrhage, atrophy, and fibrosis.

Myositis refers to a group of diseases that all share an inflammation of the muscle tissue. This condition can affect only one muscle, or an entire group of muscles, such as the masticatory muscles and the eye muscles, and can cause debilitating symptoms.

Myositis Average Cost

From 382 quotes ranging from $1,000 - $3,000

Average Cost

$1,500

Symptoms of Myositis in Dogs

Symptoms of myositis can vary greatly, and are dependent on which muscle groups are affected.

Masticatory myositis

  • Difficulty moving jaw
  • Inability to open mouth
  • Swelling of jaw
  • Loss of muscles
  • Sunken eyes
  • Pain in jaw
  • Problems eating and drinking
  • Muscle atrophy
  • Jaw fixation
  • Anorexia
  • Weight loss
  • Blindness

Extra-ocular myositis

  • Protrusion of the eyeball
  • Swelling around eye
  • Impaired vision
  • Blindness

Polymyositis

  • Stiff walking
  • Muscle pain
  • Muscle weakness
  • Swelling in muscles
  • Loss of muscle
  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Regurgitation 
  • Breathing problems

Dermatomyositis

  • Skin lesions
  • Muscle atrophy
  • Muscle pain
  • Abnormal gait
  • Lesions on feet, ears, face and tail

Types

 

There are different types of myositis found in dogs, and each is associated with a specific muscle group.

Masticatory muscle myositis

– Affects the muscles found on the sides and the top of the head that are used for chewing. There is a progressive destruction of these muscles that eventually lead to a jaw fixation, and is believed to be immune-mediated. This type of myositis is further divided into Eosinophilic myositis, which often affects German Shepherds, Labrador and Golden Retrievers, and Doberman Pinschers, and Atrophic myositis that affects mainly long-nosed breeds. 

Extra-ocular muscle myositis

– Affects the muscles involved in eyeball movement.

Polymyositis

– Describes a general myositis. Is believed to be caused by an infectious organism, sometimes Ehrlichia canis, a bacterium often contracted from a brown deer tick. Lesions are found on esophagus, forelimb muscles and masticatory muscles.

Dermatomyositis

– Considered a hereditary disease that affects Shetland Sheepdogs, Australian Cattle Dogs, and other rough coated breeds. Skin lesions develop along with muscle atrophy.

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Causes of Myositis in Dogs

There are a many conditions that can cause myositis. These include:

  • Parasitic infection, such as from Toxoplasma gondii parasite
  • Bacterial infection, such as from Ehrlichia canis
  • Viral infection 
  • Immune-mediated response causing an attack against the muscle
  • Systemic lupus erythematosus
  • Reaction from drugs or toxins, such as penicillamines 
  • Cancer
  • Genetic disposition
  • Trauma
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Diagnosis of Myositis in Dogs

To come to a diagnosis, a complete physical, neurological, and oral exam is conducted, depending on the muscles that seem to be affected. Relate any history or evidence of trauma, as it can often be a cause of the myositis.

A muscle tissue sample is generally examined to look for inflammatory cells, an indicator of myositis. Masticatory muscle myositis can be directly diagnosed through a blood test that measures the level of antibodies, a 2M antibody test, and electromyography, which can highlight any abnormal electrical activity in muscles that are affected. Other tests can be performed to rule out infections or cancer, namely blood tests, and X-rays and ultrasounds of the chest and abdomen.

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Treatment of Myositis in Dogs

Once a positive diagnosis of myositis is reached, treatment attempts to counteract the immune system activity against the muscles by using immunosuppressive medications to return the system to normal. High doses of steroids, such as prednisolone, may be prescribed, as well as immunomodulators like cyclosporine, cyclophosphamide, cytarabine, azathioprine, or mycophenolate.

When the myositis is controlled, doses are decreased slowly in the hopes there is not a relapse. The goal is to eliminate all drugs, but generally a low dose of medication is continually needed to keep the symptoms from returning.

The side effects of immunosuppressive drugs can include the increased risk of infection, vomiting, diarrhea, anorexia, liver disease, bone marrow suppression, and pancreatitis. Corticosteroids can cause the muscles to atrophy, even if the dog is improving, and may not be prescribed if that is a concern.

If the underlying cause of the myositis is discovered and treated successfully, medication may be withdrawn completely. If cancer or infection is found to be the cause of the myositis, therapy is aimed to treat these conditions. Treatment for toxoplasmosis includes oral antibiotics and antiprotozoal medications over several weeks.

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Recovery of Myositis in Dogs

It may take many weeks to see signs of recovery, but the prognosis is fair. Dogs with masticatory muscle myositis may have severe attacks for 3 weeks that subside for weeks to years, and can be controlled with corticosteroids.

You may also be prescribed medications for other types of myositis to administer to your dog at home. During treatment, your veterinarian will need to monitor your dog’s progress, as well as ensure there aren’t any unwanted side effects. Be sure to notify your veterinarian if you notice any signs of these.

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Myositis Average Cost

From 382 quotes ranging from $1,000 - $3,000

Average Cost

$1,500

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Myositis Questions and Advice from Veterinary Professionals

Need pet health advice? Ask a vet

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Ask a Vet

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French Bulldog

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Two Years

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Unknown severity

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1 found helpful

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Unknown severity

Has Symptoms

Shaking

What levels in blood tests can indicate Myositis? Our French bulldog just tested with very very high ATL levels but that is the only level that is high.

July 14, 2020

Owner

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Dr. Michele K. DVM

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0 Recommendations

Thank you for your question. Myositis is typically diagnosed by muscle biopsy, and there are no reliable indicators on labwork. I"m not sure what ATL is an acronym for or if that was a typo, but if her ALT levels are very very high, that is an indicator of liver damage. We always analyze lab values as a whole picture, not just one enzyme, and take into consideration the physical examination of the dog as well. If you are having questions about what is going on with your dog, it would be best to ask your veterinarian, as they know what is going on with him/her and have access to the whole clinical picture. I hope that all goes well with your dog!

July 24, 2020

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Skana

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terrier

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17 Years

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Moderate severity

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0 found helpful

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Moderate severity

Has Symptoms

Muscle Atrophy

The side of my 17 year old terrier mix swelled up, as if she had been bitten by a bee. This has happened before, so we didn't think much of it. After about 24 hours it came down, but when it did, that side of her face was sunken in, as if she had myositis. It seems to be getting worse. She can open her mouth just fine and doesn't seem to be in pain, but why would one side of her face now lack muscle tone? Her bone is sticking out on that side.

July 26, 2018

Skana's Owner

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3320 Recommendations

I’m not sure what would have cause the swelling and sudden loss of muscle in such a short period of time, muscle atrophy takes longer than 24 hours to occur; given Skana’s age, this would be something to discuss with your Veterinarian after an examination as they may find other indicators which may help to narrow in on a cause. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM

July 26, 2018

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Sam

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Australian Shepherd

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10 Years

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Mild severity

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0 found helpful

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Mild severity

Has Symptoms

Drooling

My left side of my Australian Shepherd's head was smashed. About 3 weeks later, the same side started "caving in." The vet seems to think it's muscle loss due to nerve damage. He started him on 20 mg of prednisone 2 times and day and then tapering to once a day for 10 days. Is this still considered MMM? Is there anything else we can do?

April 28, 2018

Sam's Owner

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Dr. Michele K. DVM

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1611 Recommendations

Nerve damage from a trauma is different than MMM, and if the damage was traumatic enough, there may not be a treatment for it. Hopefully, the prednisone helps decrease any inflammation, and Sam is able to maintain somewhat normal function.

April 28, 2018

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Ringo

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Sheepadoodle

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5 Years

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Serious severity

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Serious severity

Has Symptoms

Lameness

My dog was diagnosed at 1 yr old to have Immune-mediated polymyositis. He was fine until 1 yr of age. He is 5 yrs old now. We have been able to keep his CK level down using prednisone but we cannot get him off of it. As soon as we wean him off, his lameness in his back legs comes back. He also has a hard time swallowing/drinking. The neurologist said he also has a problem with his phalangeal muscle. Most likely also due to the myocytes. I worry about him being on prednisone for his whole life. Although it is a very small amount (5mg daily for a 100lb dog) Is that much prednisone going to hurt him? Thank you

April 7, 2018

Ringo's Owner

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3320 Recommendations

Many people are scared about the use of corticosteroids in their pets, I think it is the word steroid which worries people; there are special considerations to be taken into account when using a medication like prednisone long term which includes monitoring for secondary conditions, checking liver and kidney function as well as monitoring for diabetes and Cushing’s Disease are important. Whilst there are potential downsides, it is more important that Ringo has a happy life. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM

April 7, 2018

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Chuck Norris

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American Bulldog

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2 Years

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Serious severity

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0 found helpful

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Serious severity

Has Symptoms

Trismus

My 2.5 year old American Bulldog, Chuck Norris was just recently diagnosed with MMM after confirmation with the 2M blood test from UCSD. We just started prednisone, and are seeing a good response from it. My question is that now he has been diagnosed, will he be prone to relapses of MMM? And if so, how do dogs fare with relapses?

March 30, 2018

Chuck Norris' Owner

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Dr. Michele K. DVM

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1611 Recommendations

MMM can be a very difficult disease to manage, and to control. If he is responding well to the steroid, that is very positive. He may need to be on a very long, very slowly tapered dosage of steroid. Dogs will MMM are very prone to relapse, and may not respond as well if steroids are stopped too suddenly. I hope that he continues to do well.

March 30, 2018

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Bentley

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Golden Retriever

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4 Years

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Fair severity

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Fair severity

Has Symptoms

Trismus, Incontinence, Pica

Hi Everyone, Our Golden Retriever was diagnosed with MMM in 2016. We went through several vets, had a lot of trouble finding help,and the prednisone only made things worse. I was then pointed towards VetCBD and a strict diet (vegetables and beef stew). Within a week he was making significant progress and is currently stable with strong jaw mobility. He has been off prednisone for years and I give him small dosages(.5 ML) of CBD daily.I just wanted to share this with you all.

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Monkey

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Pit bull

dog-age-icon

12 Years

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Fair severity

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0 found helpful

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Fair severity

Has Symptoms

Muscle Loss

My 12yr old pit mix has been looking old very quickly in past month. His face is looking sunken and the skull on top has muscle loss. He needs help onto bed more, always was clumsy jumper. Otherwise no other symptoms. Should I be worried it's MMM?

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Dodger

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Staffordshire Bull Terrier

dog-age-icon

15 Years

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Serious severity

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0 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Serious severity

Has Symptoms

Lump On Jaw.
Concaved Head On One Side
Trouble Yawning And Eating

my dog was diagnosed with lung cancer a year ago. since then he has maintained steadily and been ok. he got a growth in his mouth which looked like an abscess,I took him to the vet as it was bleeding quite profusely it did not respond to antibiotics though so we think its possibly a tumour. cannot put him under as his breathing isnt the best. he then got a growth in his ear canal. he now gets reoccuring ear infections but ive noticed recently the growth in his mouth is hurting and has grown. he struggles eating and yawning hurts him. i noticed also a dip in his head on one side. I am aware he has lots of problems and I just want him here and happy for as long as possible. if this is treatable then great

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Nova

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Rottweiler

dog-age-icon

7 Months

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Serious severity

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0 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Serious severity

Has Symptoms

Jaw Problem

About 5 days ago, I woke up like I do every morning and have a play and cuddle with my puppy Nova, when she yawned and only opened her mouth about 2cm. Seemed weird but I just thought she was dry mouthing so I didn’t think much of it. But, a few days passed and she still wasn’t opening her mouth any further then the 2cm. Still eating normal and drinking normal, playing like usual, no signs of being in pain. Took her to the vet thinking it might be teeth problems, and well now she has been diagnosed with MMM. Picked her up from the vet yesterday at 4pm after they gave her a steroid shot that apparently lasted 24hrs and sent me home with prednisone. Had a normal night, went to bed at 11:30pm, woke up at 9am and done our normal routine, and it’s very noticeable that over night her skull and cheek bones are extremely visible. But, she’s able to open her jaw almost all the way now I’m just a matter of 12-24 hours. She’s only 7 months old!! Please help me, if she goes well on this steroid, will her muscles in her face grow back?

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Brutus

dog-breed-icon

Rottweiler

dog-age-icon

7 Years

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Mild severity

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0 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Mild severity

Has Symptoms

Muscle Atrophy
Blindness

My 7 year old Rottweiler was recently diagnosed with MMM. He has gone blind but the treatment seems to be working. The muscles in his head and jaw have wasted away so much so that he almost looks like a cone head. Is there any chance his sight will come back eventually with continued treatment?

Myositis Average Cost

From 382 quotes ranging from $1,000 - $3,000

Average Cost

$1,500

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