Exertional myopathy (rhabdomyolysis)

Common info

Exertional myopathy caused by the disintegration of muscles, resulting in melted muscle fibers flowing into the bloodstream, causing the muscles to be dead or can’t function properly, it can be life-threatening. Shock or acute renal failure may occur if the muscle fibers integrate with the blood flow and get into the tissue, it will reduce the blood flow to the kidneys and when the blood circulation stops, the myoglobin stops functioning and releases harmful substances that may block the kidney function, which can cause acute renal failure.


Exertional myopathy caused by the metabolic system that over-works, which is most often found in athletic dog breed, active dogs, or trained dogs such as a sled dog, which is a life-threatening condition of dogs, as a result of overworking, causing muscle cells damage. Dr. Suzanne Stack reported that the disease is similar to heatstroke, because of the symptoms such as fatigue, asthma, heart palpitations, or irregular beats which can cause acute heart failure.


Exertional myopathy caused by insufficient blood supply to the muscles after exercise or the arousing, causing muscle cells to be damaged and broken down, usually in dogs that are predators or trained dogs, such as sled dogs.


  • Weak
  • Swelling
  • Dark color urine
  • Muscle pain
  • Stiff legs, unable to walk
  • Spasm in lower jaw muscles
  • Muscle atrophy
  • Flexion of the head and neck
  • Reduced muscle mass

Symptoms of Exertional myopathy start with sickness and weakness, swelling in the muscles, hop on one foot, muscle twitching, tilt head, causing the muscle to collapse (Muscle fiber decreases) and may have other symptoms as well.

Treatment and Prevention

Nowadays, most of the treatments Exertional myopathy (rhabdomyolysis) is providing food with complete nutrition or may provide supplementary food for animals to receive complete nutrition. Surgery is another treatment but there are chances of recurrence.

  1. MSD MANUAL Veterinary Manual | Muscle Disorders in Dogs
  2. Daily Puppy | Exertional Rhabdomyolysis in Dogs
  3. CVM | Exertional rhabdomyolysis (ER)
  4. Wag! | Metabolic Myopathy in Dogs
  5. G. Diane Shelton, DVM, PhD. 2004. Rhabdomyolysis, myoglobinuria, and necrotizing myopathies. Vet Clin Small Anim. 34 : 1469–1482.
  6. Richard J. Piercy et.al. . 2001. Vitamin E and exertional rhabdomyolysis during endurance sled dog racing. Neuromuscular Disorders 11 : 278-286.
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