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Your dog is losing muscle? – these are possible causes and treatment options

Maybe you have already noticed it in your own dog or you have seen it in other dogs: The dog is poorly muscled in one or more areas of the body. In canine physiotherapy practice, it is virtually “daily business” that dogs with poor muscling are presented. However, weak or uneven musculature is not always visible at first glance. In the beginning, it is usually palpable at first. Dog loses musculature

Can muscle atrophy in dogs be precisely defined?

I always advise not to rely on eyeballing when suspecting that the dog’s musculature may be uneven. Light into the darkness can be brought quite simply by measuring the muscle circumference. This is also something that I maintain continuously in training, in order to document muscle growth and have valid data to fall back on.

But how does so-called muscular atrophy occur? Dog loses musculature

The loss of musculature can have different causes. A distinction is made between inactive atrophy and neurogenic muscular atrophy. Dog loses musculature

In inactivity atrophy, the loss of muscle results from decreased or non-use of muscle. The muscles do not move more or less in the affected area of the body. As a result, the diameter of the muscle fibers decreases. This type of atrophy occurs due to gentle postures or immobilization, e.g. after surgery.

Neurogenic muscle atrophy occurs when nerve conduction no longer functions properly. The nerve stimulus to the muscle fibers is partially or completely interrupted. This is typically the case with neurological conditions such as herniated discs. Spondylosis, for example, can also cause compression of the nerves.

What both types have in common is that the loss of muscle should be slowed down as quickly as possible. Because muscle breaks down very quickly, but the build-up takes all the longer. In addition, weakened muscles always mean increased stress on the joints and subsequently the risk of e.g. arthrosis. Furthermore, there is shortening of the muscles and loss of function. Dog loses musculature

How to treat weak muscles in dogs?

Visually, there is no visible difference in either type of muscle atrophy. However, the approach in the physiotherapeutic treatment and consequently in the muscle building are different in certain points. In the actual treatment, the procedure always depends on the individual patient.

Treatment of inactivity atrophy dog loses musculature

But in general and simplified terms, building up the muscles caused by atrophy of inactivity, for example after cruciate ligament surgery, is firstly about building confidence in the affected run. Nerve function is usually not disturbed here. The muscles are gradually strengthened again through gentle movement stimulation, e.g. passive movement and active movement exercises, training on the underwater treadmill, etc.

Treatment of neurogenic muscular atrophy

In the case of neurogenic muscular atrophy, it is additionally indispensable to place a great deal of focus on nerve function. Without functioning nerves, no muscle building is possible with this type of muscle loss.

Here, various physiotherapeutic measures are used to strengthen the nerve function (depending on the cause and clinical picture, surgical decompression may also be necessary beforehand). These measures can be stimulation of the nerve function e.g. by electrotherapy, laser therapy, movement stimulation such as passive moving, stroking of the interdigital spaces, stimulation e.g. with the ice lolly in the interdigital spaces etc.. In addition, the musculature is strengthened during the course of therapy, e.g. through active movement training and/or training in the underwater treadmill. Dog loses musculature

As you can see, a weakened and uneven musculature in a dog can have different causes and so the treatment should also be adapted accordingly. Therefore, it is indispensable that if you want to actively support your dog yourself, e.g. with movement training, you do this with a well-structured training that has “hand and foot” and not simply with a few exercises that you have found on the Internet, drauflostraining.

Has your dog ever suffered from weak muscles? What were the causes and what did you do about it? Feel free to share your experiences with me in the comments! Dog loses musculature

All the love, your Tina

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