Myasthenia Gravisis in dogs attacks all breeds, males and females alike, and most all age groups.
However, it does show somewhat of a pattern in which age grouping is primarily affected as it seems to have two age peaks.
The first is 2 and 3 years old, and then another peak between the ages of 9 and 11.
It is extremely rare in puppies and dogs younger than 2 years. This very wicked disorder has in most cases a guarded prognosis for recovery and can very easily lead to aspiration pneumonia.
Most all dogs affected with aspiration pneumonia will die within one year after infection.
Although Myasthenia Gravisis in dogs can affect any breed, there are some breeds that seem to be a lot more prone to this disorder.
This suggests that it may be inherited, while there are other breeds that seem to be almost immune.
The breeds most affected are Chihuahuas, Akitas, Scottish terriers, and German short-hair pointers.
Breeds that are the least affected are Rottweilers, Dalmatians, Doberman pinchers, and Russell terriers.
Myasthenia Gravisis in dogs is a disorder in dogs that produces a weakening of their muscles and is believed to be caused by some type of an interference of the nerve transmissions to the muscles.
Its attack on your dog is increased by any type of strenuous activity and can be relieved by complete rest.
If it is the acquired or the inherited form, it is caused by an immune-mediated disorder.
If your dog is healthy, their nerve endings will release a substance called acetylcholine. It is designed specifically to bind to a receptor on a specific muscle, which than allows for the contraction of that muscle.
With an immune mediated disorder, your dog’s body actually produces antibodies that attack these receptors, which blocks the binding process.
This lack of binding is what causes the interference of the nerve transmissions, and the result is that your dog’s muscles do not contract properly.
This lack of nerve transmission will primarily affect your dog’s legs but it can also affect their esophagus as well.
If it affects their esophagus, it has now become an extremely dangerous situation as it causes regurgitation by your dog which will eventually lead to aspiration pneumonia.
When Myasthenia Gravisis in dogs affects the legs, it will affect both the front and rear legs equally.
Any type of exercise can severely aggravate the muscles because they cannot contract back into place properly.
However, forcing your dog to rest relaxes the muscles enough where the condition will temporarily subside.
There are three forms of immune mediated disorders that can actually affect your dog; focal, generalized, and acute.
The focal form affects a specific grouping of muscles that include the throat and the esophagus, but it can also affect your dog’s face.
In most cases of the local forms, your dog’s legs will not be affected at all.
However, when it affects the facial muscles, your dog will start to blink almost uncontrollably.
The generalized form is usually somewhat more moderate and it attacks only the legs and the esophagus and is by far and away the most common.
If your dog has generalized myasthenia gravisis they will be extremely reluctant to exercise and they will also be reluctant to walk.
You will know that your dog has this form as they will gradually start to take much shorter steps.
However, as it progresses, they may not want to walk at all and if they do, they will collapse.
If your pet has the acute form of Myasthenia Gravisis in dogs, it causes a very rapid and severe attack on your dog’s leg muscles.
This can cause not only a collapse, but also a much longer recovery time. In some dogs, they may never fully recover.
The esophagus is also hit very hard causing regurgitation of large amounts of fluids.
Almost all dogs affected with an acute form develop aspiration pneumonia as result. It can also cause repository failure as your dog may become so weak they cannot lift their heads.
The treatment for Myasthenia Gravisis in dogs will depend on the type and the severity that your pet has.
Anticholinesterase drugs are the most wildly accepted therapy in dogs as they help to inhibit the enzyme that breakdown, and are able to block the antibodies that are blocking the receptors.
In most cases, your dog’s muscle strength will improve in just a few days if the condition is not severe.
Drugs that suppress the immune system have shown to be very effective in humans with this condition, but in dogs they are used very cautiously.
The reason is simple; it could make aspiration pneumonia much more severe.
Removal of dog’s thymus glands has also been tested but they have not produced successful results.
Feeding your dog with an elevated feeder has also been very effective.
However it will have to be followed by elevated your dog’s head for about 10 minutes after eating to help the food successfully pass into their stomach.
Semi-solid or liquefied foods are also highly recommended in this process.
If your dog is still regurgitating despite these treatments, the only option left will be to have a gastronomy tube placed in their stomach.
With this feeding tube, any type of food, medications, and more importantly water, can successfully enter their stomach.
Myasthenia Gravisis in dogs can be a very difficult ordeal for dog lovers as it is an extremely sad experience to watch your majestic pet going through this horrible disorder.
A regular checkup with your veterinarian is a must, as this disorder usually has a very guarded prognosis.
Most affected dogs will not live any longer than a year after diagnosis, although if it is only moderate, it can go into remission for several months.