The muscular system of a dog is part of the larger musculoskeletal system, which incorporates a canine's bones, cartilage, muscles, ligaments and tendons. The most important formative period of a young dog's muscular system is between birth and 14 months. A series of vitamins and minerals are required to ensure proper muscle growth.
As athletic and active animals, dogs rely heavily on their muscular systems. The musculoskeletal system of a dog is similar to a wolf. The canine muscular system provides endurance and motion that allows dogs to walk, run and jump. Secondary functions include producing heat by shivering when an animal is cold , strengthening joints and supporting the skeletal system.
Voluntary, or striated muscles, are those within the musculoskeletal system controlled by the dog. Simpler functions such as eating, tail wagging, and eye movement are also controlled by voluntary muscles. Voluntary muscles have the ability to contract and pull, though they cannot push, meaning they must work in pairs to achieve certain functions.
Involuntary, or smooth muscles, are controlled automatically by the animal's nervous system. Involuntary muscles are related to internal functions such as the beating of the heart, and the digestive processes of the stomach and intestines.
Composition and Connectivity
Muscles are composed of muscle fibres formed by countless individual muscle cells. Muscle fibres receive impulses from nerves, converting the muscles' potential energy into kinetic energy and causing movement. The muscular system of a dog is connected to the skeletal system by tendons. Tendons, thin bands formed by fibres, begin on the muscle and end on the bone.
Dogs are prone to a number of muscular diseases. Congenital diseases inherited from a dog's parents are relatively rare and most common in purebred dogs. Muscular dystrophy, muscle fibre deficiency, familial reflex myoclonus, and congenital myotonia are examples of congenital muscle diseases in dogs. Inflammatory disorders, which cause inflammation of one or several muscles simultaneously, and neoplasia, or tumours and cancers, are two other types of muscles disease in dogs.
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