The Pet Tree House - Where Pets Are Family Too : Muscular Dystrophy in Dogs The Pet Tree House - Where Pets Are Family Too : Muscular Dystrophy in Dogs

Saturday, November 10, 2018

Muscular Dystrophy in Dogs


Muscular dystrophy in dogs is seen in many breeds, but is seen the most frequently in Golden Retrievers. Muscular dystrophy occurs when the dog lacks dystrophin. Dystrophin is a protein necessary for the proper function of muscle membranes. There are several types of Muscular Dystrophy. Duchenne is the most common form of MD in canines.

Symptoms of Muscular Dystrophy
Symptoms generally begin showing up between 6 to 8 weeks of age. Things you'll want to watch out for include:
  • Difficulty swallowing due to an enlarged tongue
  • Lack of interest in playing/exercise
  • Muscular weakness
  • Excessive drooling
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Muscle spasms
  • Difficulty moving tongue
  • Limb deformity
  • Tremors/shaking
  • Gait abnormalities
  • Treatment of Dogs with Muscular Dystrophy
There are no cures for muscular dystrophy. There are no therapies, either. Progression of the disease can be slowed, in some cases, with anabolic supplements – that is, steroid hormones.

Muscular dystrophy in female dogs
The most common form of muscular dystrophy in dogs and humans is caused by mutations in the dystrophin gene. The dystrophin gene is located on the X chromosome, and, therefore, disease-causing mutations in dystrophin occur most often in males. Therefore, females with dystrophin deficiency or other forms of muscular dystrophy may be undiagnosed or misdiagnosed. Immunohistochemistry was used to analyze dystrophin and a number of other muscle proteins associated with muscular dystrophy in humans, including sarcoglycans and laminin alpha2, in muscle biopsy specimens from 5 female dogs with pathologic changes consistent with muscular dystrophy.

The female dogs were presented with a variety of clinical signs including generalized weakness, muscle wasting, tremors, exercise intolerance, gait abnormalities, and limb deformity. Serum creatine kinase activity was variably high. One dog had no detectable dystrophin in the muscle; another was mosaic, with some fibers normal and others partly dystrophin-deficient. A 3rd dog had normal dystrophin but no detectable laminin alpha2. Two dogs could not be classified. This study demonstrates the occurrence of dystrophin- and laminin alpha2-associated muscular dystrophy and the difficulty in clinical diagnosis of these disorders in female dogs.

"Scientists have taken a step toward developing a cure for Duchenne muscular dystrophy (DMD) by successfully treating the condition in dogs using a novel genetic technique. The scientists used a method called exon skipping, which involves adding a genetic 'patch' to block transcription of a portion of the gene involved in DMD. This puts the remaining genetic sequence back in order, essentially creating a much less severe version of the condition. More work is needed before the treatment can be given to humans, however, because DMD sufferers often have different genetic mutations."

The scientists recorded some remarkable video footage showing the resulting improvements in several dogs with naturally-occurring DMD.

                                              (Click twice on arrow to start video)

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