Thursday, September 9, 2010

Question: Horner's Syndrome

Dr. Schaeberle,

I have a cocker spaniel that was recently diagnosed with Horner’s Syndrome. Are there any treatments?



Dear Marcus,

Two peculiar syndromes in pets are Horner’s Syndrome and facial nerve paralysis. They are seen more often in dogs than cats and pets may have one or both conditions at the same time. Cocker Spaniels may have a higher incidence of facial nerve paralysis.

Horner’s Syndrome occurs when there is trauma or inflammation to the nerves on the face or chest that control the area around the eye. Injury to the nerve may occur spontaneously or may be secondary to trauma or to an ear infection. Usually, only one side of the face is affected. Pets with this condition have a small or constricted pupil, a drooping eyelid and a sunken appearance to the eye. Sometimes the third eyelid covers part of the eye.

Facial nerve paralysis also usually affects only one side, and may occur due to trauma or inflammation of the nerve controlling muscles on the side of the face. Affected pets cannot blink and the lip and ear on the abnormal side will droop. Sometimes water or food will fall out of the mouth on the affected side of the mouth. Unless related to an ear infection, there is no specific treatment for either condition. Eye drops may be necessary to prevent dry eye due to lack of blinking.

Pets usually adapt well and the neither condition causes any pain or loss of vision. Horner’s Syndrome and facial nerve paralysis may spontaneously resolve over time, but, in some cases, the changes are permanent.

Thomas Schaeberle, VMD

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