Non-Inflammatory Hereditary Muscle Disease in Dogs

Non-inflammatory Hereditary Myotonia in Dogs

Non-inflammatory hereditary myotonia is a muscle disease characterized by persistent contraction or delayed relaxation of muscles, especially during movement. Although it can be acquired later in life — often experimentally induced with ingestion of herbicides — this article pertains to congenital myotonia, which is often seen in chow chows and miniature schnauzers.

Symptoms and Types

The symptoms below are commonly associated with non-inflammatory hereditary myotonia; they may improve after exercise and/or worsen due to the cold:

  • Voice change
  • Muscle stiffness
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Difficulty rising or moving
  • Difficulty swallowing (dysphagia)
  • Regurgitation, especially after eating
  • Tongue may protrude from mouth


This type of non-inflammatory myopathy is hereditary; i.e., it is inherited by a mother and/or father with the same sarcolemmal defect, which affects the cell membrane of a muscle cell.


You will need to give a thorough history of your dog’s health, including the onset and nature of the symptoms, to your veterinarian. He or she will then conduct a complete physical examination, as well as a biochemistry profile, urinalysis, and complete blood count (CBC). Creatine kinase enzyme levels may be elevated due to the dystrophin deficiency. Liver enzymes are also elevated in dogs with this disorder.

During the examination, your veterinarian will tap on the surface of the dog’s tongue, both while conscious and while anesthetized. Such tapping produce sustained dimpling on the surface of tongue, which will provide a clue for diagnosis. For further confirmation, a DNA-based test is available to detect affected and carrier miniature schnauzers.


The prediction of a disease’s outcome in advance


The return of food into the oral cavity after it has been swallowed


An in-depth examination of the properties of urine; used to determine the presence or absence of illness


The relaxation of muscles that is delayed after they have contracted


A condition of the muscles in which they are diseased


A substance that causes chemical change to another


The term used to describe the movement of an animal


Condition in which eating and/or swallowing is difficult

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