Facial Nerve Paralysis in Dogs
The first real warning sign is your dog’s inability to blink

Facial nerve paralysis in dogs can result in weakness in your dogs face.

if this is the case, it is actually referred to as facial nerve paresis.

If it is a total dysfunction of their facial nerves, it is facial nerve paralysis.

However, whatever form it is, it can be absolutely frightening for an owner and it is a very dangerous condition for your dog.

It can cause several different symptoms that will range from mild to quite severe as it can cause eye discharge or Nystagmus, which is a very abnormal movement of your dog’s eyes.

This is both very strange and upsetting the first time you witness it.


Facial nerve paralysis in dogs is an abnormality of their facial nerve, also referred to as the seventh cranial nerve.

This nerves major role is to control your dog’s facial expressions

When they are affected by this disease, these facial muscles either do not function properly or they actually become paralyzed.

The muscles of your dog that are affected include their ears, lips, eyelids, and their nose.

This disease can affect all breeds of dogs at any age, but like several canine diseases, there are some breeds that are at a higher risk.

Beagles eyesExcessive drooling is another symptom of facial nerve paralysis in dogs

The breeds most commonly affected by facial nerve paralysis include Boxers and English Terriers.

It also includes Pembroke Welsh Corgi as well as Cocker Spaniels.

This disease has absolutely no gender preference but it does seem to have an age preference.

In the majority of cases it attacks adult dogs older than five years of age.


Facial nerve paralysis in dogs is much different than some diseases where the symptoms are rather limited, as this disease has a very long list of potential symptoms.

The first symptom that you will usually see that your dog is developing this disease is a very sudden inability to blink.

As all owners know, when you look at your dog for any length of time, they will blink as a natural reaction, and this may not be easy to spot at first unless you actually look for it.

Once this first sign does occur, you will next see a slight discharge or an irritation develop in your dog’s eyes.

However, this is only the beginning of the symptoms, and they will also become much more serious.

The next sign you will see is a drooping of their lips that will very quickly be followed by your dog starting to drop their food as a result. Next comes excessive drooling or salivation.

Contrary to a lot of misconception, drooling is not normal for any dog other than very large breeds, and if they suddenly droll excessively, something is terribly wrong with them.

The next set of signs facial nerve paralysis in dogs will be in their ears and nose.

If your dog normally has an upright or erect ear structure, you will see them start to droop, as well as see a slight movement of their nose to one side.

No one knows your dog better than you do, and when you see all of these signs starting to happen, they are developing this disease.

Head tilting will come next, as well as two different eye conditions.

The first condition will affect their pupil size as dogs all generally have asymmetric pupil sizes, or the same size. In this case one will appear larger than the other.

The next eye change that will occur is referred to as Nystagmus.

Nystagmus is very frightening when you first see it as it produces very abnormal movements of your dog’s eyes. It will almost appear as if your dog is possessed by something.

If this was not enough, your dog may develop ataxia, which is a situation where they become uncoordinated and appear as if they are drunk.


Facial nerve paralysis in dogs has several potential causes as well as one very large misconception; it is the result of ear infections.

Although ear infections can certainly be very similar in the degree of symptoms that it will show, it is widely held that over 75 percent of the cases are considered

Idiopathic, meaning there is no known actual case of this disease.

When you visit with your veterinarian about this and if no other neurological damages are found, including ear infections, they will consider it idiopathic.

However, in this testing process, there is several potential underlying or associate causes that will have to be ruled out.

Leading this list is middle ear disease, or Otitis media-interna, as well as Horners syndrome.

Both of these can also affect your dog’s sympathetic nervous system and can result in small pupil sizes, drooping of the eyelid, as well as sunken eyes.

Some type of a trauma, especially to your dog’s skull, also has to be ruled out, as well as neuromuscular diseases.

Neuromuscular diseases that can emulate facial nerve paralysis include myasthenia gravis as well as botulism.

The major difference with these diseases is that it will affect both sides of your dog’s face, and facial nerve paralysis usually only affects one side.

Cancer also has to be ruled out, as the tumors can also affect both the middle and inner ear and will cause damage to your dog’s facial nerves.

Inflammatory diseases that affect your dog’s central nervous system that may originate in their brain-stem also have to be ruled out, as they can affect the balance and well as the facial nerves.


Facial nerve paralysis in dogs has no one specific treatment simply because the cause may never be known. However, if there is an underlying cause that can be found, this can be treated.

If it is considered to be the result of an ocular complication, artificial tears may be used, but only if they are prescribed or recommended by your veterinarian.

If there is an inflammation with your dog’s eyes, ophthalmic antibiotics may be used, but you will have to closely observe their eyes for the possible development of ulceration's.

If they do develop, this will need immediate care as it could cause your dog to lose their eyesight.


Facial nerve paralysis in dogs usually affects only one side of your dog’s face, and has no known cause or treatment.

However, even though ear infection is ruled out as the actual cause in over seventy five percent of the clinical testing, keeping you dogs ears as clean as you can may help to prevent it.

It may not, but it is worth the attempt especially if you have one of the more commonly affected breeds.

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