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What are Masticatory Muscle Myositis?

German Shepherd Dogs and Cavalier King Charles Spaniels are predisposed to masticatory muscle myositis. Difficulties such as swallowing, and therefore, eating and drinking can lead to serious consequences for your pet. If your dog is showing signs of having jaw discomfort, take him to the veterinary clinic for an evaluation.

The masticatory muscles are used in chewing. They include the jaw muscles and the muscles of the temples. Therefore, masticatory muscle myositis is inflammation of the muscles in the jaw and temple. It affects the trigeminal nerve and can lead to atrophy of the muscles and dogs may have a dropped jaw that cannot stay closed.

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Masticatory Muscle Myositis Average Cost

From 415 quotes ranging from $1,000 - $3,000

Average Cost

$1,500

Symptoms of Masticatory Muscle Myositis in Dogs

The symptoms of masticatory muscle myositis can vary depending on the muscles that are affected. If you notice any of these symptoms contact your veterinarian for an appointment to have a full assessment done on your dog.

  • Swelling of the muscles on the top of the head
  • Progressive muscle loss
  • Difficulty moving the jaw
  • Difficulty drinking
  • Difficulty eating or picking up food
  • Unable to open the mouth
  • Eyes look sunken
  • Eyes look protruding
  • Stiff movements
  • Weakness
  • Regurgitation of food and water
  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Difficulty breathing
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Causes of Masticatory Muscle Myositis in Dogs

Masticatory muscle myositis can be caused by several things. 

Infection or Virus

Some form of an infectious agent, parasite or virus within the muscle can cause inflammation within the masticatory muscles. 

Abnormal Immune Reaction

An abnormal immune reaction of the body against the muscle is known as immune-mediated myositis. The body produces antibodies that will target parts of the masticatory muscles. This will cause inflammation.

Cancer

Inflammation within the masticatory muscles can develop as pre-cancerous and then turn into cancer. Cancer found within the body can cause an immune reaction, causing masticatory muscle myositis. This is known as a paracancerous effect.

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Diagnosis of Masticatory Muscle Myositis in Dogs

Dogs that have been diagnosed with masticatory muscle myositis produce antibodies against the 2M muscle fibers. There is a blood test that was developed at the University of California at San Diego that will test for these antibodies. 

A biopsy from the temporalis muscle is also recommended to determine the severity of masticatory muscle myositis. There is scarring in the muscle and by examining a biopsy of the muscle, it can be determined how far the disease has progressed and assess your dog’s ability to respond to the recommended treatment.

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Treatment of Masticatory Muscle Myositis in Dogs

Your veterinarian will prescribe a treatment plan that is aimed at attempting to counteract the body’s immune system response by suppressing the immune system with immunosuppressant medications. A dose of prednisone, a steroid, is also a common part of the treatment plan. 

The short-term treatment plan will be put in place to return your dog’s immune system to normal by using aggressive medications and high doses. Once the disease is being controlled, the medications are slowly reduced. The long-term goal is to eventually get your dog completely off all medications. Most cases, however, require a continual use of a low dose medication. 

Physical therapy may also be required depending on the severity of the disease. Physical therapy will encourage proper chewing and swallowing. Never force your dog’s jaws open.

Severe cases of masticatory muscle myositis may require surgery to remove a portion of the front jaw, allowing your dog to be able to lap water and food. While surgery may give you more time with your dog, it is a last resort option and the prognosis is extremely guarded.

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Recovery of Masticatory Muscle Myositis in Dogs

With early detection, masticatory muscle myositis can be treated successfully. Be sure to follow the treatment plan that your veterinarian prescribes for your dog to ensure recovery. All medications must be given as prescribed, if you notice any side effects, contact your veterinarian immediately.

Return to your veterinarian for all follow-up visits and post-treatment testing to make certain that the disease is being well controlled. Your veterinarian may adjust the medications being given as the treatments progress. 

Early detection of masticatory muscle myositis is important to a good prognosis. Dogs requiring surgery because of severe muscle scarring will have a guarded prognosis.

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Masticatory Muscle Myositis Average Cost

From 415 quotes ranging from $1,000 - $3,000

Average Cost

$1,500

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Masticatory Muscle Myositis Questions and Advice from Veterinary Professionals

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German Shepherd

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One Year

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Unknown severity

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4 found helpful

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Unknown severity

Has Symptoms

I notice my dog haven’t been active usually with his balls that he loves and we play fetch with constantly nor willing to eat bones. He cries when he opens his mouth and haven’t been eating as usual. He’s still the same Milo when we go on walks but shows no attention to any toys or balls. I try to massages his jaw and head and we gave him hip and joints supplements as usual, and hemp and anxiety supplements. Which seem to not be working.

March 2, 2021

Owner

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Dr. Sara O. DVM

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4 Recommendations

Hello, he could have an injured tooth or jaw issue. It would be best for your dog to see your vet. There is a muscle disease that is commonly seen in the jaw and causes pain when chewing called Masictory Muscule Myositis. Your vet can examine your dog and see what is causing these issues. They can also start your dog on pain medication to help with the pain and inflammation.

March 2, 2021

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Pit Bull

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One Year

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Unknown severity

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0 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Unknown severity

Has Symptoms

Dent Skull

my dog just received an allergy shot and now has a concave head, vet isn't open till monday, is this something that can wait, no other symptoms

Sept. 27, 2020

Owner

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Dr. Michele K. DVM

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0 Recommendations

Thank you for your question. I apologize for the delay in my response, this venue is not set up for urgent emails. I can't see the change in your dogs head being related to the allergy injection, but having a recheck would be a good idea. I hope that they are okay.

Oct. 13, 2020

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Masticatory Muscle Myositis Average Cost

From 415 quotes ranging from $1,000 - $3,000

Average Cost

$1,500

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