Nerve and Muscle Disorders in Dogs

Nerve and Muscle Disorders in Dogs - Symptoms, Causes, Diagnosis, Treatment, Recovery, Management, Cost
Nerve and Muscle Disorders in Dogs - Symptoms, Causes, Diagnosis, Treatment, Recovery, Management, Cost

What are Nerve and Muscle Disorders?

The canine’s nervous system, as the human nervous system, is made up of the brain and spinal cord and the nerves and muscles. The latter, or the neuromuscular system, is made up of nerves that control the movements (by way of messages to the brain) to the muscles. The brain is the control center of all of the muscle activity, but it cannot work without the specific nerves to communicate. Walking, running, chewing, and any other movements that are voluntary are only able to work because of the signals from the brain to the spinal cord, and to the peripheral nerve that controls the muscles.

When the neuromuscular system is not working properly, the muscles become weakened and the dog can suffer from muscle atrophy.  Degenerative disorders of the muscles can be temporary and sudden while others are more chronic and progressive.  In mild cases, dogs are affected inconsistently and can still have a good quality of life. In severe cases, paralysis can occur and the dog would need much assistance and loving care.

Nerve and muscle disorders in dogs, or neuromuscular disorders, are disorders that are characterized by abnormalities in the nervous system and the relation to the controlled muscle movements in dogs.

Nerve and Muscle Disorders Average Cost

From 49 quotes ranging from $3,000 - $20,000

Average Cost

$6,500

Symptoms of Nerve and Muscle Disorders in Dogs

Nerve and muscle disorders of dogs present a variety of obvious symptoms that warrant the attention of a medical professional. There are several different neuromuscular disorders and many of them do have very similar symptoms. Symptoms include:

  • Weakness of muscles
  • Muscle degeneration
  • Difficulty or inability to stand, walk, run, or rise from a resting position
  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Regurgitation
  • Depression or sadness
  • Lethargy

Types

There are many types of diseases that can have an adverse effect on the nerves and muscles in dogs. The diseases are generally divided into three categories since there is such a large amount. Many of the nerve and muscle diseases are also breed-specific, and many of them are hereditary. The categories of neuromuscular diseases are: 

  • Diseases of the peripheral nerves
  • Diseases of the neuromuscular junction
  • Diseases of the muscles
arrow-up-icon

Top

Causes of Nerve and Muscle Disorders in Dogs

There are several causes for nerve and muscle disorders. Causes can include:

  • Disease of the nerves
  • Neuromuscular junction disease
  • Myopathy
  • Infectious diseases
  • Nerve inflammation
  • Toxicity
  • Genetics
arrow-up-icon

Top

Diagnosis of Nerve and Muscle Disorders in Dogs

If your dog is showing signs of neuromuscular disease, it is imperative to take him to the veterinarian. The medical professional will do a thorough exam, including blood work, imaging of the frontal chest and abdomen, an ultrasound of the abdomen. There will possibly be a blood test to look for any antibodies to check for any disorder that affects the nerve and muscle junction. 

Other tests may be given to allow the veterinarian to come to diagnose a specific neurological disorder, such as a Tensilon test, a spinal tap, and possibly a biopsy of the nerves and muscles, and other tests to determine a degenerative disorder or inflammation of nerves or muscles. 

An electromyogram is another test that can be done by delivering electrical stimulation towards a specific nerve or muscle. The dog is put under anesthesia for this test, and the veterinarian will check for muscle response to the nerve stimulation.

arrow-up-icon

Top

Treatment of Nerve and Muscle Disorders in Dogs

Before any method of treatment can be determined, the veterinarian will need to determine the specific cause of the neuromuscular disorder. Many of these disorders can be quite severe and have different modes of treatment. For example, in the case of a spinal cord disorder, surgery may be the appropriate course of action. A dog who is suffering from myasthenia will be given medication to renew muscle strength. Polymyositis, the most common muscle disease seen in canines, will need therapy in the form of corticosteroids. Removal of toxins, if possible, will be the treatment for toxic neuropathy. As the range of disorders of the nerves and muscles is very extensive, discussion in great length with your veterinarian may be expected.

arrow-up-icon

Top

Worried about the cost of Nerve And Muscle Disorders treatment?

Pet Insurance covers the cost of many common pet health conditions. Prepare for the unexpected by getting a quote from top pet insurance providers.

Recovery of Nerve and Muscle Disorders in Dogs

The primary cause of neuromuscular disorders in dogs can vary greatly, as well as the severity.  Many of the neuromuscular disorders in dogs are treatable and the prognosis is anywhere from fair to good with a great deal of supportive care and therapy. Unfortunately, some of the neuromuscular disorders have a prognosis of poor, such as those caused by cancerous tumors, myopathy, or inherited neuropathy. 

It is important to understand that some of these diseases are degenerative, and the dog may live a good quality of life for some time before his health deteriorates. Becoming educated and proactive in the disease is the key to giving your dog a good quality of life. Learning about possible alternative treatments, such as holistic care and acupuncture therapy, may keep you positive about your loved one’s prognosis.

arrow-up-icon

Top

Nerve and Muscle Disorders Average Cost

From 49 quotes ranging from $3,000 - $20,000

Average Cost

$6,500

arrow-up-icon

Top

Nerve and Muscle Disorders Questions and Advice from Veterinary Professionals

dog-name-icon

dog-breed-icon

Weimaraner

dog-age-icon

Twelve Years

thumbs-up-icon

0 found helpful

thumbs-up-icon

0 found helpful

Has Symptoms

Ataxic

12 y/o Weim spayed female with progressive neurological sxs. Ataxic gait with sliding hind legs and muscle atrophy, cold feet. Discontinuance of tear production requiring both ointment and and artificial tears approx. 2 weeks; Dry nasal bridge, air licking x 1 week. Was anorexic until the introduction of people food/high protein wet food. Originally 75 down to 60 lbs, now about 65 lbs. Completed 21 days of doxycycline to exclude tick-borne meningitis. Currently taking 30 mg predisone (has been on for 35 days). Some improvement of ataxia upon initiation of predisone, but deteriorating.

July 24, 2020

Owner

answer-icon

Dr. Ellen M. DVM

recommendation-ribbon

0 Recommendations

Hello, thank you for your question. I am so sorry to hear that your dog is having so many issues. Without examining your dog and knowing more about blood work and the case in general, it's hard to know what might be going on. I'm sure this has been very stressful, and difficult to watch your dog deteriorate, and I am so sorry. If you have not already, I would ask your veterinarian for referral to a neurology or internal medicine specialist if you want to further work this up or try additional treatments. Otherwise, you may need to talk to your vet about quality of life, as hard as that is. Again, I am so sorry to hear that your dog is so ill. :( I hope that things start to improve - referral to a specialist would be your best bet if you wish to continue with testing and treatment. Best of luck.

July 24, 2020

Was this experience helpful?

dog-name-icon

Honey

dog-breed-icon

Maltese

dog-age-icon

8 Years

thumbs-up-icon

0 found helpful

thumbs-up-icon

0 found helpful

Has Symptoms

Muscle Tremor

My dog is a Maltese/Pomeranian. He injured his front right leg and has had some limp since 1. A vet said he also has luxating patella in his legs. He seems to have developed a muscular issue since his hind legs can't stop shaking when he eats, it is such a strain. His muscles seem weak, he doesn't like to walk far, and he has recently injured his front right leg just from chasing his toy, he literally can't walk on that leg. He's been to the vet and they say it's muscular. Could he have a neuromuscular disease -I believe it's something more than just an injured muscle.

March 7, 2018

Honey's Owner

answer-icon

recommendation-ribbon

0 Recommendations

Without examining Honey I cannot say whether this is just sprains caused by a bad footing or other cause; you should restrict Honey’s movement for a week or two to prevent any further injury and to look out for recovery. If there is no improvement or injuries continue to occur, then a more thorough examination would be required to look into alternative causes. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM

March 7, 2018

Was this experience helpful?

Nerve and Muscle Disorders Average Cost

From 49 quotes ranging from $3,000 - $20,000

Average Cost

$6,500

Need pet insurance?
Need pet insurance?

Learn more in the Wag! app

Five starsFive starsFive starsFive starsFive stars

43k+ reviews

Install


© 2022 Wag Labs, Inc. All rights reserved.