Exertional Myopathy (Rhabdomyolysis) in Dogs Identifying and Treating Rhabdomyolysis In Dogs

Exertional Myopathy (Rhabdomyolysis) in Dogs https://www.pexels.com/photo/toy-poodle-laying-head-on-a-hand-15359233/

Exertional Myopathy, also known as Rhabdomyolysis, is a prevalent illness that affects dogs, particularly those who participate in strenuous physical exercise. Learn more about this condition here.

Exertional Myopathy, also known as Rhabdomyolysis, is a common condition affecting dogs, particularly those that engage in intense physical activity. This disorder happens when muscle fibers disintegrate and leak their contents into the bloodstream, including a protein known as myoglobin. If left untreated, this might result in major health issues like kidney failure.

This article will provide a comprehensive overview of this condition, including its causes, symptoms, and treatments.

Can Dogs Get Rhabdomyolysis?

Yes, they can. Rhabdomyolysis in dogs is typically caused by overexertion of the muscles, especially in dogs that are not used to intense physical activity. When dogs play, run, leap, and participate in other activities for extended periods of time, this can happen. Retrievers, greyhounds, and other sporty breeds are susceptible to this illness.

Exertional rhabdomyolysis in dogs may also result from additional reasons, such as:

  • Genetics: Some breeds of dogs may have a genetic predisposition to the condition, which makes them more susceptible to muscle damage.

  • Electrolyte imbalances: Dogs with low levels of electrolytes, such as sodium and potassium, are at increased risk of developing Exertional Myopathy.

  • Heat stroke: Dogs that are subjected to high temperatures and humidity levels may develop heat stroke, which can lead to muscle damage and Exertional Myopathy.

  • Certain medications: Some medications, like corticosteroids, can boost the risk of Exertional rhabdomyolysis in dogs.

  • Nutritional deficiencies: Dogs that are not getting enough nutrients in their diet, such as vitamins and minerals, may be more prone to muscle damage and Rhabdomyolysis in dogs


Dog rhabdomyolysis can present with a variety of symptoms, depending on the condition's severity and underlying cause. However, some typical symptoms to watch out for are as follows:

  • Muscle pain and stiffness: Dogs with Exertional Myopathy may experience muscle pain, especially in the legs and hindquarters, and may have difficulty standing or walking.

  • Weakness: Dogs with this condition may appear weak and unsteady and may have difficulty performing their normal activities.

  • Swelling: The affected muscles may become swollen and tender to the touch.

  • Myoglobinuria in dogs (Dark, reddish-brown urine): Myoglobin, a protein released from damaged muscle fibers, can turn urine a dark, reddish-brown color.

  • Rapid heart rate: As the heart tries to compensate for the muscle damage, it may beat faster than normal.

  • Elevated body temperature: Exertional myopathy in dogs can cause inflammation of the injured muscles, which can result in fever.

Treatment and Recovery Options

The best course of action for treating and curing dogs with exertional myopathy will depend on the severity of the condition and its underlying cause. Here are some typical medical options:

  • Rest and confinement: Dogs with Exertional Myopathy need to rest and avoid any intense physical activity. Your veterinarian may recommend confinement in a crate or small room to prevent further muscle damage.

  • IV fluids: Dogs with Exertional Myopathy may receive intravenous (IV) fluids to help flush out any toxins and improve kidney function.

  • Pain management: Dogs with muscle pain may benefit from pain management medications, such as non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs).

  • Electrolyte replacement: Dogs with low levels of electrolytes may need to receive electrolyte replacement therapy to help replenish their levels of sodium and potassium.

  • Supplements: Dogs with nutritional deficiencies may need to receive vitamin and mineral supplements to help support their recovery.

  • Physical therapy: Once the acute phase of treatment has been completed, your veterinarian may recommend physical therapy to help improve muscle strength and mobility.

Exertional myopathy recovery times might vary depending on the condition's severity and how quickly it is treated. With the right care and therapy, the majority of dogs with this ailment may fully recover. However, some may have stiffness or muscular weakness that lasts for a while.

Can Rhabdomyolysis Be Prevented?

Yes, there are steps that you can take to help prevent rhabdo in dogs. Here are some tips to keep in mind:

  • Gradual increase in exercise: Don't increase their physical activity suddenly, especially if your dog isn't used to regular exercise. To aid in the dog's muscular development and reduce the risk of injury, gradually increase the time and intensity of exercise.

  • Adequate nutrition: Make sure your dog is receiving a balanced and nutritionally complete diet to support healthy muscle development. Some dogs may benefit from a diet that is high in protein, vitamins, and minerals, especially if they are at a higher risk for Exertional Myopathy.

  • Avoid extreme temperatures: Avoid exposing your dog to extreme temperatures, such as hot or cold weather, which can put stress on the muscles and increase the risk of injury.

  • Avoid overexertion: Avoid pushing your dog too hard during exercise or training sessions, especially if they are already showing signs of fatigue or discomfort.

  • Regular veterinary check-ups: Regular veterinary check-ups can help identify any underlying health problems that could increase the risk of Exertional Myopathy. Your veterinarian can also recommend preventive measures and treatments that can help reduce the risk of this condition.

By following these tips and being mindful of your dog's physical abilities, you can help reduce the risk of Exertional Myopathy and ensure that your dog stays healthy and active. If you have any concerns about your dog's exercise or nutritional needs, it's always best to consult with your veterinarian.

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