Facial paralysis may respond well to potassium supplementation. It helps the body in eliminating waste through the kidneys and helps to purify the blood. Potassium is lost when dogs excessively pant in hot weather. Good source of potassium can be found in bananas, potatoes, green leafy vegetables, citrus fruits, mint leaves, bee pollen, alfalfa, tomatoes, parsley, rice bran, dried apricots and dates.

What is facial paralysis?
Facial nerve paralysis is common in dogs. Facial paralysis is reduced movement of the muscles of facial expression. It can be either unilateral or bilateral. Dogs with Facial Paralysis are unable to control their facial muscles and the muscles hang loose. As the names suggest the unilateral facial paralysis affects only one side of the face and bilateral affects both side.

What Breeds are Prone to facial paralysis?
It can affect any breed of any age or gender. However, idiopathic facial nerve paralysis is seen more often in following breeds.

  • Cocker spaniel
  • Pembroke Welsh corgi
  • Boxer
  • English setter

Dog Facial Paralysis

What causes facial paralysis?
In most dogs, facial paralysis is not caused by disease of the brain, it is instead related with direct injury to the nerve that controls the muscles in the face (facial nerve). Trauma (injury) is a common cause of facial paralysis in all species. However, the most common cause of facial nerve paralysis in dogs is idiopathic facial nerve paralysis. The term idiopathic means that there is no known cause.

The second most common cause of facial nerve paralysis is a deep seated infection of the ear (otitis media/interna).

What are the Signs of facial paralysis?
Clinical signs of facial paralysis vary with the location, severity, and duration. Following are some of the signs;

  • Inability to move the eyelids (inability to blink)
  • Inability to move the ears
  • Inability to move the lips
  • Inability to move the nostrils
  • Reduced or absent tear production
  • Reduced saliva production
  • Dropping of food
  • Floppy lip
  • Dropped appearance to the face (some what like someone that has suffered a stroke)

*Note: Above signs are seen in only one side of the face in Unilateral Facial paralysis and both sides of the face in Bilateral Facial paralysis

How facial paralysis is diagnosed?
Most facial paralysis cases are idiopathic facial nerve paralysis (in which the cause is unknown), but investigations may be necessary to rule out any other possibilities. A vet may perform a thorough ear examination using a scope (if necessary under sedation or anesthesia) to detect signs of any deep ear infection, such as a ruptured eardrum or an inflamed ear canal. If this examination is normal then the deeper parts of the ear and brain, ear can be examined using X-Rays of the skull and the back of the brain can be examined using CT or MRI scans. In some cases it may be necessary to take a sample of fluid from around the brain to check for signs of inflammation.

What is the treatment for facial paralysis?
If the facial nerve paralysis is idiopathic it is usually left untreated because, by definition, no cause has been identified so no treatment can be used. Facial nerve paralysis secondary to deep seated infection of the ear requires at least 4 to 6 weeks oral antibiotic. Cases that are unresponsive to medical treatment may require surgical drainage.


Disclaimer: If any sign of ill health is noticed the pet must be immediately taken to a registered veterinarian for treatment. No information given in any section of this website shall be used as treatment in any case. Information given on this site is solely for educational purpose.