Exertional rhabdomyolysis

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Exertional myopathy (exertional rhabdomyolysis) is an exercise-induced muscular disease characterized by acute inflammation and muscle fibre degeneration.

In some dogs, an underlying phosphofructokinase deficiency is evident[1], and in other breeds such as the Greyhound it can occur as a result of extreme endurance activity or exercise.

A breed predisposition has been reported in the Greyhound and Old English Sheepdog[2].

Lactic acidosis is a feature of this condition, characterized by muscle soreness, stiffness and reluctance to walk.

In extreme cases, death may result from secondary acute renal failure due to glomerulonephritis, acute or chronic heart failure and progressive emaciation[3][4].

Diagnosis is based o historical evidence of recent heavy exercise and presenting signs, supported by hematological evidence of severe lactic acidosis and elevated urea and creatinine. Secondary myoglobinuria and hemoglobinuria may be evident in more severe cases.

A differential diagnosis would include cutaneous-renal vasculopathy in Greyhounds.

Most mild cases respond to rest, and in more severe cases IV fluids, bicarbonate, body cooling, rest, and muscle relaxants (eg, diazepam).


  1. Inal Gultekin G et al (2012) Missense mutation in PFKM associated with muscle-type phosphofructokinase deficiency in the Wachtelhund dog. Mol Cell Probes 26(6):243-247
  2. Breitschwerdt EB et al (1992) Episodic weakness associated with exertional lactic acidosis and myopathy in Old English sheepdog littermates. J Am Vet Med Assoc 201(5):731-736
  3. Bartsch RC et al (1977) A review of exertional rhabdomyolysis in wild and domestic animals and man. Vet Pathol 14(4):314-324
  4. Howerth EW & McCrindle CM (1982) Acute renal failure in a dog following exertional rhabdomyolysis. J S Afr Vet Assoc 53(2):115-117