Autoimmune Polymyositis in Canines

by Naomi Millburn
    Depression is often a symptom of autoimmune polymyositis.

    Depression is often a symptom of autoimmune polymyositis.

    Photodisc/Photodisc/Getty Images

    If you're concerned that your pooch might be dealing with an inflammatory muscle ailment, he just might have a condition known as autoimmune polymyositis. Only a veterinarian can tell you for sure. Exhaustion and problems walking both are common symptoms of autoimmune polymyositis in the canine realm.

    Polymyositis describes an autoimmune disorder that mostly influences dogs' appendicular muscles. When a dog has polymyositis, antibodies that wreak havoc on his muscle tissues develop. Although both types of animals can get the disease, dogs experience autoimmune polymyositis more frequently than do cats, according to Curtis W. Dewey of "A Practical Guide to Canine and Feline Neurology." The specific mechanism that triggers polymyositis is uncertain. Inflammation in polymyositis leads to destruction in dogs' skeletal muscles.

    If you ever have any reason to think that your pooch might have autoimmune polymyositis, schedule a veterinary checkup for him immediately. Be on the lookout for typical symptoms of polymyositis. Apart from difficulties walking and fatigue, the inability to handle physical activity for long often denotes the disease. Rigidness, too, is a key symptom of the condition. Other telling symptoms are muscle ache, muscle atrophy, weight loss, feebleness of the muscles, vocal shifts and fever. If it ever seems like your pet feels discomfort when you touch him, pay close attention. That could mean that his muscles hurt.

    Autoimmune polymyositis is especially common in dogs of big breeds, according to veterinarians Darcy H. Shaw and Sherry L. Ihle, authors of "Small Animal Internal Medicine." Newfoundlands are just one example. Middle-aged canines are also particularly vulnerable to autoimmune polymyositis. Despite that, all dogs can get the condition, regardless of gender or breed. Boxers are mid-sized dogs that also are prone to the condition.

    If a veterinarian determines that your pet has autoimmune polymyositis, she can then decide which form of management suits his needs. When veterinarians look out for the possibility of inflammatory muscle ailments such as these, they often do so by analyzing blood count, conducting thoracic X-rays, examining the urine, looking over muscle biopsies and observing amounts of creatine kinase, an enzyme. When veterinarians check dogs for autoimmune polymyositis, they aim to look for signs of harm in the muscles. Antibiotics and corticosteroids are both common forms of management for dogs with autoimmune polymyositis. Note that only a veterinarian can decide which type of treatment is necessary for dogs with polymyositis. The outcome for dogs with the condition is usually positive, says veterinarian Joseph Harari of The Merck Veterinary Manual. Some experience relapses, however.

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    About the Author

    Naomi Millburn has been a freelance writer since 2011. Her areas of writing expertise include arts and crafts, literature, linguistics, traveling, fashion and European and East Asian cultures. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in American literature from Aoyama Gakuin University in Tokyo.

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