Nerve signals do more than control your pet’s movements. Nerve signals conduct electrical impulses that help keep muscle tissue healthy. So, if your pet is experiencing unexplained muscle loss (atrophy), there may be an underlying neurological condition. The veterinary neurologists at The Animal Neurology & Imaging Center (The ANIC) outside Albuquerque, New Mexico have the expertise and advanced technology that is needed to diagnose the cause of your pet’s muscle atrophy.
Signs of Muscle Loss in Pets
Pet owners often notice muscle loss because of a change in their pet’s appearance. Your dog or cat may:
- Have one limb that is noticeably thinner than the other
- Appear leaner
- Experience disfigurement on the head and/or face
Possible Causes of Muscle Atrophy
Muscle loss can result from a number of health issues, including muscular, endocrine or neurological disorders.
Neurological (including neuromuscular) conditions that may cause muscle loss include:
- Masticatory muscle myositis (MMM)
- Trigeminal neuropathy
- Lumbosacral disease
- Spinal cord problems
Masticatory muscle myositis most commonly affects large dog breeds. However, most other neuromuscular and neurological conditions that cause muscle loss equally affect all breeds of dogs and cats.
Diagnosing the Cause of Muscle Atrophy
Determining which biological system is causing your pet’s muscle loss typically begins with lab work, which your primary care veterinarian will likely perform. These tests may be all your pet needs if muscle atrophy is the result of an endocrine disorder.
But, if your pet’s lab work shows no markers of endocrine disruption, then you may need to consult a specialist. The doctors at The ANIC are board-certified neurologists (or residents working toward board certification); their advanced training and experience often allow them to distinguish muscle loss caused by muscular conditions vs. neuromuscular or neurological conditions through a neurological examination alone. Our clinic is also equipped with the advanced imaging technology if needed.
If you observe muscle loss in your pet, you can seek advanced medical care at The ANIC. Your primary care veterinarian may refer you to our Albuquerque-area clinic, or you may contact us to schedule an appointment.