Your dog’s nervous system is made up of the brain, spinal cord, peripheral nerves and muscles. Between the nerves and muscles there are neuromuscular junctions which send signals to the muscles to contact. These junctions aid in everything from walking and running to breathing and swallowing. Neuromuscular disease is a term that applies to any disease that affects these junctions.
Spotting the signs of neuromuscular disease in dogs
There are a number of signs that you should look out for in order to diagnose neuromuscular disease in dogs. This list isn’t exhaustive, so you should always check with your vet if you are concerned that your dog is displaying any of these symptoms.
- A change in gait
- Aversion to exercise
- Difficulty getting up when lying down
- Breathing problems
- Problems swallowing and choking
What causes neuromuscular diseases?
These problems can be linked to a wide range of problems, including the following:
- Metabolic disorders
- A neoplastic disease
- Nutritional problems, including malnutrition
- Inflammatory conditions
- A vascular problem (blood vessels)
- An infection
There are many other reasons that a dog might develop a neuromuscular disorder, so it’s important to check with a vet if you notice any changes in behaviour.
How will your vet diagnose this?
Once you start to notice changes in your dog’s behaviour, you should aim to gather as much video footage as possible as this can help your vet to diagnose any problems. Your vet will want to take a full medical history in order to identify any warning signs of such a disorder. A full examination will be required and your vet may want to observe your pet moving, in addition to any video footage you might have.
Tests to help diagnose neuromuscular disorder include:
- Blood tests and blood profile
- Muscle and nerve biopsy
- CT Scan
Your pet’s prognosis and treatment will depend on the outcome of the tests. Some pets may need to be hospitalised if the condition is very advanced. In cases of toxicity, removing the toxin will often be enough to help relieve the symptoms.