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Lisa, Certified Vet Tech
Category: Dog
Satisfied Customers: 16074
Experience:  AAS Vet Tech. Bully breed rehab & Behavior modification
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our shihtzu has a protruding tongue which appears paralyzed,

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our shihtzu has a protruding tongue which appears paralyzed, we took her to the vet and she was diagnosed with a sinus infection, she is unable to eat, and can lap water only a bit, she was given antibiotics and a shot of steroid but does not appear any better, I have been spoonfeeding her rice cereal and water but she is very miserable, our vet wanted her to go to a clinic 200 miles away for another opinion, a trip we are unable to make

Hello! My name is XXXXX XXXXX it will be my pleasure to help you with your dog today.


How long has Buttons been having this problem?

Did they send out antibiotics, or was it just an injection?

Can she move her mouth, or it is the whole area that seems to be affected?


Is she up to date on vaccines before this happened?

Customer: replied 3 years ago.
for about 3-4 days, however earlier this year she did have a similar problem and was diagnosed with Horner's syndrome, which eventually resolved. She is on oral abx for 7 days. it's hard to determine if she can move her whole mouth or not. Her tongue has protruded so far on occasion that we physically have to push it back in. She is up to date on her vaccines.

Thanks for answering my questions. I really appreciate it.


It's hard to know for sure what is going on with Buttons. The first thing I thought was Horner's, especially since she has had that in the past, however, there are several other possibilities.


It's possible that this is laryngeal paralysis. We often see this in dogs with the symptom of really harsh, noisy breathing, but from time to time we do see dogs who have a problem moving their tongues as well. Although there's no definite treatment plans, often a dog will need to have surgery to repair this paralysis. You can read more about laryngeal paralysis here:


If you live in an area where there are a lot of ticks, then there's the possibility of something like tick paralysis. This is caused by a toxin that is released when the tick bites the dog. I'd give Buttons a real close inspection and see if there's a tick on her anywhere. If there is and it's removed, the dog will often recover in a short time. There's more information on tick paralysis here:

In a middle aged dog, we have to consider the possibility of some sort of nerve damage. The Hypoglossal nerve is the one that controls the tongue/mouth, and if that is injured or has something like a tumor near it, it can cause the dog to love function of the parts near that nerve. Treatment for things like this can range from surgery to medicine, but unfortunately, it often requires a trip to a veterinary neurologist to determine if that is the problem. You can read more about facial paralysis here:


I do think that seeing a specialist is the way to go, but understand if it's not possible to make such a long trip. If Buttons were mine, I'd actually see if there was another vet in your area that could see her. It's very common for vets who practice in the same city (and sometimes even in the same clinic) to have very, very, very different educational backgrounds and experience, so it's possible that even though your vet may not know what to try, another vet in the area might.


I hope this helps.

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