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What is Paralysis of the Jaw?

Jaw paralysis in dogs is usually caused by trigeminal neuropathy in the mandibular branch of the nerve, which disrupts the animal's ability to control certain facial muscles. The condition is best characterized, or recognized by pet owners, by an inability to move the mouth though other symptoms may be present depending on the extent of the neuropathy. There is no known cause for trigeminal neuropathy, and it typically resolves on its own after several weeks.

Trigeminal neuropathy is the most common cause for paralysis of the jaw, as inflammation of the trigeminal nerve leads to an inability to move the mouth. Because of its idiopathic nature, there is no true treatment for the condition, though supportive care will be necessary during the recovery period. Most dogs recover full use of their facial muscles after a few weeks.

Paralysis of the Jaw Average Cost

From 29 quotes ranging from $300 - $3,500

Average Cost

$800

Symptoms of Paralysis of the Jaw in Dogs

The characteristic symptom of jaw paralysis is an inability to open or close the mouth, which may result in your dog's lower jaw dropping open. Depending on which specific branches of the trigeminal nerve are affected, additional clinical signs may include:

  • Inability to blink
  • Difficulty eating or drinking
  • Anorexia
  • Lethargy
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Causes of Paralysis of the Jaw in Dogs

Paralysis of the jaw is most commonly caused by trigeminal neuropathy, an inflammatory disease that affects the trigeminal nerve and leads to a disruption in the dog's ability to control facial muscles. The disease is typically idiopathic, meaning that there is no known cause, although paralysis of the jaw may also arise as the result of a separate underlying condition such as an infection.

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Diagnosis of Paralysis of the Jaw in Dogs

As part of the initial examination, the veterinarian may conduct laboratory testing, including blood work and a urinalysis. However, paralysis of the jaw can be easily diagnosed by the dog's inability to move his mouth, and the veterinarian may make a presumptive diagnose of trigeminal neuropathy based on clinical findings and history.

The diagnosis is typically confirmed by ruling out other potential causes for your dog's symptoms. The veterinarian will inspect your dog's ears thoroughly for signs of infection and may use an MRI or CT to examine the brain and skull. Imaging helps determine possible underlying causes for the paralysis, if any, and may reveal a slightly enlarged trigeminal nerve, though such comprehensive tests are usually used to rule out other diseases instead of to confirm trigeminal neuropathy.

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Treatment of Paralysis of the Jaw in Dogs

Idiopathic trigeminal neuropathy usually clears up on its own after two or three weeks. The veterinarian may prescribe anti-inflammatory medication though treatment typically focuses on supportive care instead of on curing the condition. Because of the dog's inability to move his jaw, it is important to ensure that he is getting sufficient nutrition and hydration in other ways. Most dogs are still able to lap with their tongues, but a feeding tube may be necessary depending on the severity of the paralysis.

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Recovery of Paralysis of the Jaw in Dogs

During the recovery process, you may need to provide nutritional support for your dog. A liquid diet is the standard for dogs recovering from trigeminal neuropathy, as most are still able to use their tongues. It's imperative that you provide your pup with plenty of water, and cook all meals down to the consistency of gruel, making it possible for your dog to receive proper nutrition.

If you notice any new clinical signs in your dog, inform the veterinarian immediately. However, the prognosis for this condition is generally good, as trigeminal neuropathy often clears up on its own after several weeks.

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Paralysis of the Jaw Average Cost

From 29 quotes ranging from $300 - $3,500

Average Cost

$800

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Paralysis of the Jaw Questions and Advice from Veterinary Professionals

Need pet health advice? Ask a vet

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Ask a Vet

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Shih Tzu

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Five Years

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Unknown severity

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0 found helpful

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Unknown severity

Has Symptoms

Tongue Paralysis, Sleeping A Lot, Can’T Use Tongue To Drink Water

My dog woke up one day and her tongue was turned to the side hanging out of her mouth, she had never had any teeth pulled and seemed happy, she went to eat and her tongue was still stuck to the side of her mouth and she was chewing on it without knowing. When she tries to go drink water she can’t control her tongue at all and just shoved her nose in the water till she chokes herself. She wants to eat and drink but can’t because her tongue suddenly stopped working. It’s not sensitive or discolored, please send thoughts

July 31, 2020

Owner

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Dr. Michele K. DVM

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0 Recommendations

Thank you for your question. There are many nerves in the face and neck that control function of the tongue, and she may have a problem if she is not able to feel or control her tongue - she will not be able to drink water or eat properly. It would be best to have her seen by a veterinarian as soon as possible to see what might be going on. Once they know more and are able to examine her, they will be able to let you know what options there are for treatment. I hope that she is okay.

Aug. 4, 2020

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Sophie

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Boxer Shepherd

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4 Years

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Moderate severity

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1 found helpful

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Moderate severity

Has Symptoms

Excessive Drooling
Squinting Eyes
Swelling Around Nose And Face
Not As Active As Usual

My four year old boxer/shepherd mix began squinting about a week ago and was not as hyper as she normally is. We mentioned it to our vet when she went in for her immunizations five days ago. They performed blood work and examined her. They stated her eye pressure was low and prescribed an antibiotic for her eyes and Prilosec for her belching. The vet called us and stated the blood work did show a hook worm infection and a slight inflammatory response. The past two days we have noticed that her jaw is slack and hangs open with a lot of drooling. She is still eating and drinking with what appears more effort than is usual for her. I gave her a milk bone a few minutes ago. She could not even close her mouth around it to take it from my hand. After a few minutes of licking, she managed to get the milk bone in her mouth and chew it.

April 9, 2018

Sophie's Owner

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Dr. Michele K. DVM

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1611 Recommendations

That is definitely not normal behavior for her, and it would be best to have her rechecked by your veterinarian as soon as possible. She may have a neurologic problem going on that needs treatment, and you veterinarian will be able to recommend any necessary testing or treatment once they have seen Sophie. I hope that she is okay.

April 9, 2018

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Albie

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Shetland Sheepdog

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2 Years

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Moderate severity

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Moderate severity

Has Symptoms

I took my dog to the vet yesterday, because he was not able to drink and eat (through days). His mouth was open, he has an infection and was dehydrated. Now he gets antibiotics, fluids intravenously, food with a syringe. But the vets are not sure that it is trigeminal neuropathy, because his sinking reflex is reduced. And they are looking for other conditions also. My question is, can the sinking reflex be reduced if the dog is suffering from trigeminal neuropathy? Thank you for at great site, with so much good information.

Sept. 17, 2017

Albie's Owner

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3320 Recommendations

Trigeminal neuropathy is a common cause for in inability to close the mouth; trauma, inflammation, tumours and autoimmune disorders may cause this condition. Sometimes a condition may not seem ‘textbook’ so your Veterinarian will need to ensure all other causes are ruled out before settling on a diagnosis. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM www.vetstream.com/treat/canis/diseases/trigeminal-neuropathies

Sept. 17, 2017

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Moose

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Olde English Bulldogge

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3 Years

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Serious severity

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Serious severity

Has Symptoms

I have a 3 yr old olde English bulldog. He has had Jaw paralysis for almost 4 weeks. I have elevated his water so he can lap up water on his own. However he has to be feed by hand because his jaw won't close. It seems to be a little better from 4 weeks ago but the vet said it seems permanent. He is my 5 yr old daughters best friend. I am willing to feed him like that but is it 1. Healthy for him and 2. Fair to him

Sept. 1, 2017

Moose's Owner

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3320 Recommendations

If Moose doesn’t seem like he is suffering and is otherwise in good spirits, he is lucky to be surrounded by a loving family who are supporting him; if it seems like he is struggling or is unable to get an adequate amount of water etc… then it may not be good for him. If there is some improvement over the past four weeks then I would keep an eye on that, but an underlying cause needs to be determined to see whether this is permanent or not. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM

Sept. 1, 2017

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sally

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Beagle

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11 Years

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Moderate severity

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1 found helpful

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Moderate severity

Has Symptoms

Cant Take Water Lot Of Salivs

took sally to vet yesterday as she is lapping but having no intake of water and leaving saliva in the bowl she can eat ok but is sneezing often her jaw is slightly open and I can see her tounge vet said bacterial infection in mouth gave her antibiotic and antinflametory shots and course of tablets

July 26, 2017

sally's Owner


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3320 Recommendations

There are various causes of an inability to drink including disorders with the tongue (infection, foreign bodies etc…), masticatory muscle disorders (masticatory myositis - but you would see a problem eating), trauma (damage to the nerves supplying the tongue), infections as well as other causes. I would complete the course prescribed medication and ensure that Sally remains hydrated, this can be helped by using a syringe and giving water or placing a water bowl higher may help too. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM

July 26, 2017

Thank you for your help have more idea of how to care for sally.

July 26, 2017

sally's Owner


I took my baby to the vet and they said it was not normal. Not satisfied I took him again to another vet and he recommended I see a specialist, so I went to the ER. They said it was trigeminal neuritis, after researching this disease for hours I learned that it usually resolves on its own. Furthermore I have temporarily switched rockie to a soft food diet and will give him water by means of a syringe. I hope I’m doing something right

Dec. 30, 2017

Stephanie M.

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Ozzie

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Staffordshire Bull Terrier

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8 Years

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Critical severity

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Critical severity

Has Symptoms

Paralysis
Drinking Lots Of Water
Won’T Eat
Can’T Eat
7 Days Without Food

My grandads Staffordshire bull terrier hasn’t eaten in 7 days other than a tiny nibble which he had to force feed, he’s been drinking loads but hasn’t been able to close jaw other than when he lies on it to sleep, vets can’t find anything but I’m now worried because he won’t eat not from hand or anything literally impossible, the only thing I can think of now to try it to syringe soup down his throat... can anyone help!!!! Dogs can only go 5-7 days without food and so now I’m worried for his life and the vets won’t answer!!! Read more at: https://wagwalking.com/condition/paralysis-of-jaw#

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Lulu

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Pomeranian

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2 Years

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Moderate severity

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0 found helpful

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Moderate severity

Has Symptoms

Cant Close Mouth

My dog is a 2 year old pomeranian & she just started not being able to close her mouth all of the way. Her jaw just kinda stays open about an inch. If I try to close it for her it just comes back down. She doesn't seem to be in pain and shes acting normal by eating and drinking fine. Since her mouth is open she has a slight drool but barely any.im not sure what I should do ??????

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Ruby

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Springer Spaniel Sheepdog

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4 Years

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Mild severity

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0 found helpful

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

Mild severity

Has Symptoms

Lethargy
Droopy Eyes
Dropped Jaw

My dogs Ruby’s eyes started looking droopy a few days ago, then her jaw dropped and now she can’t close it. she still has an appetite I am hand feeding her, it is really worrying me however and I’m not sure how much water to give her ? I am using a syringe

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DIesle

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American Pit Bull Terrier

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9 Years

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Mild severity

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0 found helpful

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

Mild severity

Has Symptoms

Drooling , Letahrigic
Drooling , Lethargic, Eye Drooping,

Good Evening, My Healthy 9 year old American Pit bull terrier was showing small signs of his mouth being open more than usual. Fast forward 5 days later.. Jaw open, Drooling , Eye.. smaller than the other not know what this was we looked for issues inside his mouth and found cluster (grape like ) along his jaw line .. thinking this is the cause of all the symptoms. $700.00 later xrays and blood work are fine. DO we wait it out and still pursue the clusters. they said it could be gingivitis hypolasia or something .. ugh !!! I need answers :'(

Paralysis of the Jaw Average Cost

From 29 quotes ranging from $300 - $3,500

Average Cost

$800

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