Myasthenia gravis in dogs with an emphasis on treatment and critical care management

J Vet Emerg Crit Care (San Antonio). 2011 Jun;21(3):193-208. doi: 10.1111/j.1476-4431.2011.00636.x. Epub 2011 May 10.


Objective: To review the human and veterinary literature on the pathophysiology of myasthenia gravis (MG) and describe treatment options for clinical use in people and animals.

Data sources: Human and veterinary clinical reports, studies and reviews, textbooks, and recent research findings in MG from 1996 present, with a focus on treatment and patient management.

Human data synthesis: MG is a well-described condition in people with new research and treatment options available. Many of the newest therapeutic options available in veterinary medicine for MG are based on current strategies used in people with this condition. Seronegative MG is well described in people and provides insight to clinical cases encountered in veterinary medicine when the index of suspicion is high though serologic tests are negative.

Veterinary data synthesis: Previous studies in veterinary medicine focused on the use of acetylcholinesterase inhibitors as the main form of treatment in canine MG. Recent studies, mainly case series and case reports, emphasize the use of immunomodulatory treatments as an alternative for long-term treatment. However, there are no randomized, controlled studies on treatment with immunomodulatory therapy for MG in dogs available to assess the efficacy of this treatment strategy.

Conclusions: Although early recognition of clinical signs is most important in the outcome of patients with MG, further understanding the pathophysiology of MG may lead to earlier diagnosis and novel treatment strategies. The discovery of additional autoantibodies against striated muscle proteins in dogs, should enhance our understanding of diseases affecting the neuromuscular junction. In addition, clinical data for canine MG could be applied to other autoimmune disorders.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Dog Diseases / diagnosis
  • Dog Diseases / physiopathology
  • Dog Diseases / therapy*
  • Dogs
  • Immunosuppressive Agents / therapeutic use
  • Myasthenia Gravis / diagnosis
  • Myasthenia Gravis / physiopathology
  • Myasthenia Gravis / therapy
  • Myasthenia Gravis / veterinary*


  • Immunosuppressive Agents