Muscular dystrophy works similarly in both humans and dogs. The term “muscular dystrophy” actually refers to a wide range of genetic diseases that affect muscles. One type is x-linked Duchenne-type muscular dystrophy, which affects Golden Retrievers more than other breeds, according to the Virginia-Maryland College of Veterinary Medicine.
New research presented on Oct. 19, 2014, at the American Society of Human Genetics by geneticist Natassia Vieira of Boston Children’s Hospital and Harvard University showed that a specific protein may help dogs, and eventually humans, avoid this painful condition.
The study was focused around Ringo, a Golden Retriever who was born with a genetic mutation that causes Duchenne-type muscular dystrophy. Although his siblings had the disease, Ringo was healthy and had functioning muscles.
Ringo had a son who also had the gene mutation without muscular dystrophy. The researchers analyzed Ringo’s son and his second-generation mutation, finding that his muscles produced more of the protein Jagged 1 than normal. This allowed his muscles to repair themselves quickly. Even though his genes carried the causes of muscular dystrophy, the mutation produced enough Jagged 1 to counteract the degeneration.
Someday this protein may be used for treating muscular dystrophy or other muscle-damaging conditions.
Learn about canine muscular dystrophy
While development of Jagged 1 treatments might be a ways off – if ever used – it’s always a good time to learn about canine muscular dystrophy.
As a genetic mutation, there’s no way to prevent, cure or treat muscular dystrophy successfully. Dogs with muscular dystrophy often show symptoms at a very early age, including difficulty walking, nursing, eating, breathing or drinking. Over time, muscular dystrophy often stops the heart or makes breathing too difficult, resulting in death.
While there isn’t any established treatment for this condition, there are symptomatic conditions that you can work with your veterinarian to treat and improve your dog’s life. Dogs with mild cases of muscular dystrophy can live for years. During this time, when you’re playing and having fun with your dog, it’s critical to avoid pneumonia – one of the most dangerous conditions for dogs with muscular dystrophy.
PetWave explained that the only defense against pneumonia is antibiotics prescribed by a veterinarian. If your dog has muscular dystrophy, watch out for the warning signs and be ready to communicate with your veterinarian if your dog develops pneumonia. Kidney conditions can also exacerbate muscular dystrophy. Although this condition is always fatal, if treated correctly you can still have a long time with your furry friend.