Facial paralysis in dogs, an ailment that every pet owner dreads, is an unfortunate condition that affects many canines worldwide. If your dog also has this, or you think it might have it, this article is for you.
Facial Paralysis in Dogs
Facial paralysis is a condition that frequently affects dogs, especially those in their middle to senior years. It manifests as a noticeable sagging or drooping of facial muscles. Rather than a direct impairment of the muscles, this is a result of damage to the nerves that energize them.
A dog experiencing facial paralysis often exhibits a distinct sagging appearance on one side of the face, reminiscent of a human who has endured a stroke. You'll notice one ear drooping lower than its counterpart, and the lip descending on the affected side. These dogs struggle to blink, and it's common for them to drool saliva or drop food from the impacted side of their mouth. In some instances, both sides of the face might display these symptoms, making the condition a bit more challenging to identify.
Causes of Facial Paralysis in Dogs
Facial paralysis in dogs often arises due to damage or inflammation of the facial nerve. This damage can occur due to various reasons:
Trauma: A blow or injury to the side of the head can cause facial nerve damage.
Ear infections: Chronic ear infections can lead to inflammation that may affect the facial nerve.
Tumors: Tumors or growths, both benign and malignant, may press against or damage the facial nerve.
Idiopathic: Sometimes, the cause of facial paralysis is unknown. Veterinarians refer to these cases as idiopathic facial nerve paralysis.
Diseases: Some diseases, like Lyme disease, can lead to facial paralysis as a secondary symptom.
Signs of Facial Paralysis in Dogs
Recognizing the signs of facial paralysis in dogs is crucial for timely intervention:
Drooping on one side of the face: This is the most prominent sign. It might appear as if one side of the dog’s face is drooping or slack.
Inability to blink or close the eye on the affected side: This can lead to dryness of the eye or even injury.
Drooling: Since facial paralysis can affect the muscles around the mouth, the dog may drool excessively.
Loss of facial expression: Your pet might not show typical reactions like it used to.
Difficulty eating: Your dog may find it hard to chew or grasp food with its mouth.
Risks of Facial Paralysis in Dogs
Facial paralysis, if left untreated, can lead to several risks:
Without the ability to blink properly, the dog's eye is prone to dryness and subsequent injuries.
Difficulty in eating can cause the dog to inhale food into the lungs, leading to pneumonia.
Chronic ear infections
In cases where ear infections are the underlying cause, it can recur and cause other complications.
Facial Paralysis Treatments
Injuries leading to facial paralysis are not uncommon across different species. This injury can result in unilateral (one-sided) or bilateral (both sides) weakness or complete paralysis affecting the lips and nostrils.
Massaging and Applying Heat
For such injuries, therapeutic interventions can be quite varied. A typical approach includes massaging and applying heat to the muscles that have lost nerve supply. This treatment, done for about 15 minutes and repeated 2 to 3 times daily, helps maintain muscle integrity while the waiting game for nerve regeneration is on.
A modern therapeutic technique gaining traction is laser therapy, often referred to as cold laser, low level light therapy, or photobiomodulation. Laser therapy aids in nerve regeneration, which is crucial for recovery from paralysis. It's interesting to note that the facial nerve has the capacity to regenerate at a rate of approximately 1 to 4 mm per day. Regular neurologic assessments can track this regeneration and provide insights into the horse's prognosis. However, if there's no sign of improvement after a span of six months, prospects of full recovery diminish considerably.
Animals experiencing issues like nostril collapse might require surgical intervention. Additionally, for species that rely on their lips for drinking and grabbing food, special care is necessary. Such animals should be provided with deep water containers and served wet, bulky mash to ease their feeding.
How Laser Therapy Works: It uses specific wavelengths of light to stimulate cells, increasing blood circulation and promoting cellular repair and regeneration. For dogs with facial paralysis, it helps reduce inflammation and promotes nerve healing.
Benefits of Laser Treatment for Facial Paralysis in Dogs
Non-invasive: Laser therapy does not require surgical intervention, making it a less stressful option for pets.
Pain-relief: It offers pain relief by reducing inflammation and promoting healing.
Quick sessions: Each session usually lasts only a few minutes.
No known side effects: When conducted under expert guidance, laser therapy in dogs is safe and free from side effects.
Accelerated recovery: The healing process is often quicker with laser therapy in dogs as compared to other treatment options.
Choosing the Right Laser for Facial Paralysis in Dogs to Treat at Home
If you're considering laser therapy in dogs, it's vital to make an informed choice. Here are some pointers.
Wavelength: Ensure the device offers the right wavelength, typically between 600 and 1000 nm for deep tissue penetration.
Power: More power ensures deeper penetration but should be used judiciously.
Safety: Ensure it has safety features like automatic shut-off and protective eyewear.
Recommendation: Always choose a device recommended by veterinarians or experts in the field.
Domer 1300mW Vet Laser for Facial Paralysis in Dogs
Among the popular choices is the Domer 1300mW Vet Laser a renowned laser therapy for dogs. This device is engineered meticulously, operating at low-level wavelengths of 650nm & 808nm. What's noteworthy about this particular wavelength and intensity range is the plethora of healing benefits it brings to the table. Whether you're a medical professional seeking a reliable laser tool or someone looking for home-use solutions, the Domer 1300mW Handheld Laser stands out not just in quality but also in affordability. It offers the best price point without compromising on the quality that low-level lasers should provide.
For those facing the challenge of treating facial paralysis in dogs at home, the Domer 1300mW Handheld Laser comes highly recommended. Its design, efficiency, and affordability make it an excellent choice for aiding in the recovery and well-being of our canine friends.
Facial paralysis in dogs can be a distressing condition. However, advances in veterinary medicine, especially the advent of laser therapy, offer hope for faster and more effective recovery. With devices like the Domer 1300mW Vet Laser, pet owners can also consider administering laser therapy at home, under expert guidance. As always, consult with your veterinarian before making any treatment decisions.