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NancyH
NancyH, Dog Expert:Rescue, Train,Breed,Care
Category: Dog
Satisfied Customers: 31958
Experience:  30+ yrs dog home vet care & nursing, rescue, behavior&training, responsible show breeding, genetics
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My dog has muscle atrophy of the head and face. What is ...

Resolved Question:

My dog has muscle atrophy of the head and face. What is the prognosis? How is it treated and what are the causes?
Submitted: 10 years ago.
Category: Dog
Expert:  NancyH replied 10 years ago.
Usually this goes along with a nerve issue.
A problem that impacts the Trigeminal nerve in the head will lead to marked atrophy of the muscles of mastication including those that are up in the temple area of the skull.
You may be looking at a problem with a neck vertebrae pushing on a nerve or an ear infection impinging on the trigeminal nerve.
This site lists many of the myopathies dogs can have http://www.neurovet.org/Shelton1/shelton1tahfinalnew.htm
And this goes over the muscles impacted by a masticatory myopathy
http://www.drjwv.com/article.php?view=0007.php
has drawings of the muscles and nerves impacting them.
Hope this helps you!
NancyH and 2 other Dog Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 10 years ago.
Reply to Nancy Holmes's Post: Thank you very much. I am interested by the reference to an ear infection as a possible cause as my dog has had recent problems with her ears. Is that a common cause? The muscle atrophy has been rapid (3 months) and severe. Would you typically expect the problem to continue to worsen without treatment or does it stop / recover of its own accord?

Ordinarily, would you expect it to be necessary to administer cortisosteroids as treatment for a long period of time or is it treatable over a fairly short period?
Expert:  NancyH replied 10 years ago.
There is a nerve that runs along under or behind the ear area so that swelling/inflammation in the ear can impact it.
As this is a neurological problem you might want to consult a veterinarian who specializes in neurology as I'm sure in person exam will do lots more for location the problem.
You can see if a specialist is listed near you here
http://www.acvim.org/Specialist/Search.aspx
or ask your vet about a referral.
If you can restore nerve function that is your best bet. Problem with steroids is they can make infections lots worse so you need to figure out just what is wrong and balance how treatment is done if there is still ear infection issues happening and if that is the real trigger for this.