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Facial Nerve Damage


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This is just weird. I noticed the other day that Diana seemed to have a dent over one eye, or a protruding cheekbone. I convinced myself it was a protruding cheekbone (optical illusion making it look like a dent) because it made more sense to me, and took her to the vet. Maybe swelling from a bad tooth?

 

Nope, it's a dent in the head. Apparently she has nerve damage in her face. Don't know why, it just happens sometimes, and it's caused the muscle above her eye to atrophy. The vet speculated it could be from a long-term pinched nerve in her neck or elsewhere, or something like Bell's Palsy that people get, or a brain tumor. Regardless, the vet offered no treatment, or diagnostics that would't be crazy to try, and he won't.

 

Her eye and mouth aren't drooping (yet) which surprised the vet. She's not in any pain and doesn't seem to have any issues from it (yet).

 

It must've been going on for a while for the muscle to shrink away, but apparently I never noticed. You can really only notice it if you look at her straight on, which never happens because she's never still (except in sleep).

 

Apparently it's not that common since the vet had the other vet in the practice and all his techs and assistants come look at her. (Or it's just easier to see on a greyhound face). Of course, Diana just loved that!

 

The vet wouldn't speculate on how quickly she'll start to loose sight, mouth function, or whatever else. Her eye is dilated and non-reactive, but her vision seems ok.

 

She's got chronic kidney disease, has lost 9 lbs since April, and now has a dent in her head. She's still the happiest, sweetest dog ever, and shows no signs of discomfort at all.

 

 

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Dogs can get myasthenia gravis, and MG can cause muscle drooping and other odd symptoms. With MG in people, symptoms are worse when the patient is tired or overheated. If it turns out to be something like MG, you might want to make sure she doesn't get tired out when you're far from easy transport and vets and stuff. MG causes muscle weakness, and that includes muscles like the lungs.

 

(My dad had MG, and his doctor's strongest warnings had to do with the risk of choking--that if he started to choke on a bit of food and tired himself out trying to cough up the obstruction, he wouldn't be able to get his breath. We had standing orders to dial 911 if he started to choke, without waiting to see if he could clear the airway. Dad was unusually unresponsive to all the MG treatments that normally are effective for people, and he died of MG complications in 2010, although not--thank god--in a choking attack. He was 79, and he'd been sick for about 10 years, seriously so for his last year.)

 

You might want to read up on some of the neurological stuff that dogs can get--MG, Bell's Palsy and others--just so you'll know what kinds of activity might be riskier for her or if there are steps you can take to keep her safer and feeling better.

 

And here's your good news, if it is acquired MG:

 

One confounding factor in the assessment of treatments for acquired MG is the frequent occurrence of spontaneous remissions. Up to 87.7% of affected dogs will go into spontaneous remission at an average of 4 months after diagnosis (range: 1 to 18 months).

 

15060353021_97558ce7da.jpg
Kathy and Q (CRT Qadeer from Fuzzy's Cannon and CRT Bonnie) and
Jane (WW's Aunt Jane from Trent Lee and Aunt M); photos to come.

Missing Silver (5.19.2005-10.27.2016), Tigger (4.5.2007-3.18.2016),
darling Sam (5.10.2000-8.8.2013), Jacey-Kasey (5.19.2003-8.22.2011), and Oreo (1997-3.30.2006)

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She may surprise you and have no other symptoms (I hope!) It seems like if it's so rare at this point the vet might be speculating.

I did some more research and the typical diagnosis for facial nerve damage is idiopathic. Which means "unknown cause". She does seem to have an "itch" on her face/ear, and rubs it. So we rub her ear, and she likes it. The vet suggested it might feel "tingly" to her. So she gets a lot of rubbies.

Dogs can get myasthenia gravis, and MG can cause muscle drooping and other odd symptoms. With MG in people, symptoms are worse when the patient is tired or overheated. If it turns out to be something like MG, you might want to make sure she doesn't get tired out when you're far from easy transport and vets and stuff. MG causes muscle weakness, and that includes muscles like the lungs.

 

(My dad had MG, and his doctor's strongest warnings had to do with the risk of choking--that if he started to choke on a bit of food and tired himself out trying to cough up the obstruction, he wouldn't be able to get his breath. We had standing orders to dial 911 if he started to choke, without waiting to see if he could clear the airway. Dad was unusually unresponsive to all the MG treatments that normally are effective for people, and he died of MG complications in 2010, although not--thank god--in a choking attack. He was 79, and he'd been sick for about 10 years, seriously so for his last year.)

 

You might want to read up on some of the neurological stuff that dogs can get--MG, Bell's Palsy and others--just so you'll know what kinds of activity might be riskier for her or if there are steps you can take to keep her safer and feeling better.

 

And here's your good news, if it is acquired MG:

 

The symptoms don't seem to fit.

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She may surprise you and have no other symptoms (I hope!) It seems like if it's so rare at this point the vet might be speculating.

We shall see. She's on the decline, physically, but we're doing what we can to keep her as healthy as possible. She seems oblivious to the issues that we see in her, and is still her happy, loving, active self. So her hind end is a bit weak, and she's loosing weight, and she feels a twitch in her face. No worries to her! We just help her a bit more. We go for shorter walks, and play anytime she feels like it, and feed her any time she'll eat. The other night she went to get into our bed and struggled so I decided to sleep on the couch and she layed there with me. The next night she jumped in the bed - no issue.

 

Every day is a GOOD day for Diana - and us. When we don't have a good day for her - we're going to have to make a hard choice. But I WILL NOT let my vibrant, crazy, thinks-she's-a-lab-puppy with stripes ever have a BAD day. She deserves better than that from me.

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  • 2 weeks later...
  • 2 weeks later...

Bell's Palsy? I had it happen to a (human) friend. It was caused by an ear infection. I don't know if there is a canine version?

The vet said it was quite like Bell's Palsy (that ironically my brother recently had). But because it lasted long enough to cause muscle atrophy, is more likely long-term nerve damage we never caught. She was never in any pain, so it's likely a small facial nerve that just shorted out, and never recovered.

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