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Myasthenia Gravis in Dogs… What is it? What Causes it? And how can I help my pet?

Like myasthenia gravis in humans, canine myasthenia gravis is a rare neuromuscular disease that causes muscle weakness and mobility problems in dogs. But just because it “rare” doesn’t mean that if your dog has it, you’re any less affected by the harmful effects that it can you on you and your dog’s life.

This is why…

If you think your dog might have this disease, then it’s important you learn as much as you can about myasthenia gravis in dogs – remember, knowledge is power!

What is Myasthenia Gravis?

Nerves send impulses to muscles to make them work. However, when there is a breakdown in this communication, then things don’t happen like they should. As a result, the muscles don’t flex as they should so they become weak. This is what happens with myasthenia gravis.

Now as we said before…

Myasthenia Gravis is a rare disease, which is great!  But when it happens, it’s going to change your life and your pup’s.

Who is at risk?

Certain breeds are more at risk than others because they are at risk due to their genes. This is called congenital myasthenia gravis. These breeds include:


There is also acquired myasthenia gravis which can affect any dog. This happens when the immune system has an issue.   In cases like these, antibodies start attacking muscle receptors (acetylcholine receptors) and as a result, they get damaged.  Additionally, dogs who have been diagnosed with thymoma are also more at risk of developing myasthenia gravis as well.

Symptoms of Myasthenia Gravis

The main symptoms you will see are muscle weakness. And unfortunately, exercise only makes these symptoms worse.  This is why rest is usually the best thing for those affected muscles.


Another common symptom that you may encounter is food regurgitation which can happen as a result of how the esophagus is affected.

Dogs with myasthenia gravis are very prone to pneumonia.

Diagnosis of myasthenia gravis in dogs

How will you vet diagnose myasthenia gravis in dogs? Well, it will involve some tests basically designed to rule out other illnesses and diseases. First your vet will try to determine if there are any clinical signs of myasthenia gravis. These could include:

  • Complete Blood Count (CBD),
  • Chest X-rays,
  • MRI or CT (to look at spine),
  • Tensilon test (muscle response).

After doing the tests, your vet should be able to narrow in on myasthenia gravis and then develop a treatment plan.

Treatment of myasthenia gravis in dogs

The most common treatment is to get on anticholinesterase drugs. These drugs work by reducing antibodies that are attacking the muscle receptors such as aChr antibody.

Another drug…

That might be prescribed is edophonium chloride. This works by inhibiting the breakdown of acetylcholinesterase.

Pyridostigmine bromide may also be used to help your dog improve muscle strength.

Which brings us to…

Were we like to remind folks that we here at IndulgeYourPet are not doctors, veterinarians or medical professionals.  All we are is a bunch of folks who just happen to be passionate about animals and only want what’s best for them.

This is why…

If you feel like your pet may have myasthenia gravis (or any other health issue for that matter) the first thing that you’re going to want to do is have him or her check out by a vet ASAP!


The truth is, an early diagnosis will often lead to the “best” medical outcome for your pet regardless of what is bothering him or her, but beyond that diagnosing a medical condition early could save you a bundle in medical costs!

Cost associated with treating myasthenia gravis in dogs

Now it may sound a bit taboo to ask how much this is all going to cost. After all, you’d do whatever it takes to help your dog live a healthy life, right?

But don’t worry…

We understand. After all, most of us aren’t millionaires or independently wealthy so… if this is going to cost thousands of dollars you need to be mentally prepared, right?


Why not be more than mentally prepared: be financially prepared. We’re not telling you to save up thousands of dollars right now for dog treatment. No, we’re talking about purchasing a pet insurance policy on your pet before they become sick!

Now this may…

Be possible for your pet who has been diagnosed with myasthenia gravis, but what about any other pets that you may have?

For more information on who we feel currently offers the “Best” pet insurance policies in the industry, feel free to check out our Best Pet Insurance Companies article.

{ 2 comments… add one }
  • Colleen A February 19, 2019, 10:46 am

    Can some poisons cause acquired myasthenia gravis in dogs

    • indulgeyourpet February 19, 2019, 4:27 pm


      Like many autoimmune disorders, the exact cause of Myasthenia Gravis in dogs remains somewhat a mystery. Therefore, we would be hesitant to say that an exposure to a particular poison may or may not increase ones dogs risk of developing this condition. That said however, it’s always a good idea to keep any kind of poison away from our furry loved ones regardless of what the consequences may be.

      Sorry we couldn’t be more helpful on this one.


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