What are the signs & symptoms that develop in affected dogs?
Dogs with polyneuropathy are typically first noticed with weakness and muscle wasting in the hind legs, leading to abnormal gait and hunched stance. Many owners also notice loud sounds when the dog breathes, or a change in the dog’s bark due to weakness of the muscles that control the voice box. Over time, the weakness and loss of feeling spreads to the front legs; in severe cases, dogs may have difficulty breathing as these muscles become affected.
When do signs and symptoms develop?
Affected Malamutes usually begin to show signs when they are between seven and eighteen months of age, though some begin to show signs as early as three months old.
How do vets diagnose this condition?
Combined with a thorough physical and neurologic exam, your veterinarian can definitively diagnose polyneuropathy with electromyography (EMG) and/or nerve biopsies. However, keep in mind that polyneuropathy can be caused by a variety of things including nutritional deficiencies, autoimmune disease, and infectious agents. Without suspicion that your dog’s polyneuropathy is genetic based on age of onset, breed predisposition, or family history, these will also need to be explored as underlying disease processes.
How is this condition treated?
Currently, there is no treatment for genetic polyneuropathy.