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petdrz., Dog Veterinarian
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Experience:  Over 30 years of experience in caring for dogs and cats.
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I have a 5-year old Boxer. Hes demeanor is typically active

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I have a 5-year old Boxer. He's demeanor is typically active and energetic. Starting on Sunday, he has been a bit lethargic (just laying around and sleeping), not really eating, and just "not himself". Today when we got home from work/school, we noticed the right side if his face - jaw, not muzzle or around the eye. My husband and eye tried looking in his mouth but he pulls away and whimpers when we attempt to open his jaw. He will let us lift his jowls and nothing appears amiss - not broken or missing teeth, swollen gums, etc. I would say the pain is minimal as he will let you touch, poke or even squeeze the swollen area with whimpering. But there is obviously some pain because he won't open his jaw. We've given him broth soaked bread, and he's eaten it without throwing up. He's hungry but I think there's enough pain to keeping him from trying.

We have scheduled him to see the vet but that is not until Thursday (an emergency. Is it is $300, regardless of the diagnosis, and we just can't afford that right now).

I'm just looking for some guidance on alleviating pain or other things I can look for until Thursday. Or maybe, guidance that this is serious enough to take out the credit card and see a vet now!

He's my furry baby! I don't like seeing him so "puny"!
Hello and thanks for trusting me to help you and Tyson today. I'm a veterinarian with over 25 years experience and would be happy to work with you but need a bit more information in order to better assist you if you don't mind.

Are you taking about the lower jaw?

Is the swelling firm or soft?

Is the swelling only on one side? or both? or is it n more centrally located?

Have you been able to look under his tongue or is that not possible?

Are there any swellings elsewhere on his body?

Thanks and I will respond further after you reply. There may be a short delay as I compose and type my response.
Customer: replied 3 years ago.

I would say primarily the upper jaw. Anatomy is not my forte but essentially, its the back (?) of the jaw, where it hinges, if that makes sense?


The swelling is firm, and he will allow you to apply pressure. He doesn't pull away or wimper when you do. And it is only on the one (right) side.


We cannot see under the tongue in the front. We can lift the jowls on either side and look at his teeth, gums and the side of his tongue. But when we attempt to open his mouth...actually open the jaw...he starts whimpering and pulls his head away.

There is no other swelling on his body. We have not taken his temperature, but the swollen area does feel warm, warmer than the rest of his body.

Ok, thank you for the prompt reply.

The symptoms that you describe are very concerning and I do believe he is more painful than he is letting on. There are various conditions that can lead to these symptoms, including trauma to the tempero-mandibular joint, dislocations, infections or abscess and even muscular disease. There is one condition in particular called mandibular myositis which is an inflammatory disorder that effects the muscles of the jaw only and in the acute stage, can present just as you describe. It often occurs on both sides, but can be unilateral or one-sided. If that is what Tyson is dealing with, it is best treated sooner versus letting it wait for a couple of reasons. First and most important is the pain factor which can be pretty severe. Second is that as it progresses, the inflammed muscle can change to scar tissue and then it becomes and irreversible problem in which they cannot open the mouth.

Here is a link with more information about this disorder. LINK HERE

You can apply cold packs to the swollen area if he will allow and I would definitely continue to offer soft food and liquids to keep him nourished and hydrated. If there is any way possible, I would not suggest waiting for another 2 days before having him seen since if this is the muscle disorder I was describing, the sooner you can get a diagnosis and begin treatment, the less lasting and irreversible effect it will have. I would not offer any over the counter medications for pain that you may have access to as many are not safe and may limit what your vet can offer, namely steroids if they are suspicious of masticatory myositis.

Please let me know if you have ANY other questions. My goal is to give you 100% satisfaction and if you are not yet satisfied, please Reply so I can clarify for you.

Dr Z

Customer: replied 3 years ago.

Is "forcing" him to work his jaw a good or bad thing? By forcing, I mean offering him a treat that he has to pickup?

My husband and I are desperate and are willing to cook filet mignon to get him to eat and pick up his spirits just a bit! But we don't want todo anything that can cause additional damage!
I do not think that you will do any damage by offering him something enticing to eat, but it may just make him more despondent if he is too painful to open his mouth or just physically cannot. I would also be careful with the "rich" fatty foods like a filet as we don't want to set off a GI issue or pancreatitis. Better to stick to more bland offerings. If he is able to work the muscles of his jaw, he will do so when the pain is relieved and no matter what you offer will not likely make a difference.
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Hi Beatrice,

I'm just following up on our conversation about Tyson. How is everything going?

Dr. Z.
Customer: replied 3 years ago.

Tyson is much better...back to his old crazy Boxer self!

We decided to take him into urgent care on Wednesday morning. The vet opted to started him on Rimadyl to get the swelling down. He also gave him 750mg of an antibiotic. After two doses the swelling was gone and he was more lively. He's been on the med for 7 days now and he is back to eating dry food.


We have a follow up visit today, actually, so that we can get in his mouth and see what's going on! My husband and I took a peek, and it actually looks like he bit his jaw and has some excess skin "hanging" down.


Thanks for all of your help and your suggestion not to wait! I don't think I could have handled another day of the moping sad Tyson!




Thank you so much for the follow up. I am glad to hear that Tyson is back to normal and the swelling has resolved. Hopefully whatever caused it has resolved also.

If you have any questions in the future that I may help you with, ask for Dr Z in the question title or see my profile to request me. You can bookmark my profile to your browser favorites with this link:

Have a great week!