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Trigeminal Neuritis in Dogs

By: Dr. Erika de Papp

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Trigeminal neuritis is also known as mandibular paralysis. It is characterized by paralysis of the muscles of mastication, or the chewing muscles. The cause of the disorder is unknown, but the paralysis of the muscles occurs secondary to inflammation of the trigeminal nerves, which supply the muscles of mastication.

Trigeminal neuritis occurs in both dogs and cats, but is much more common in dogs. No breed, age, or sex predispositions exist.

What to Watch For

  • Paralysis of the muscles causes an inability to close the mouth, resulting in a mouth that hangs open
  • Affected animals cannot eat or drink normally
  • Drooling

    Diagnosis

  • History and physical exam
  • Neurologic exam to exclude other nerve deficits
  • X-rays of the jaw to rule out traumatic injury

    Treatment

    Treatment consists of supportive care, mainly consisting of assisting the animal to eat and drink. In some cases, this may require tube feeding.

    Home Care and Prevention

    Most animals recover in 2 to 3 weeks. During the recovery period, owners must ensure their pet is getting adequate food and water. This can usually be achieved by syringe feeding, as instructed by your veterinarian, or feeding via a tube.

    There is no means of preventing trigeminal neuritis, since its cause is unknown.

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