Monday, March 9, 2009

Help Us, Help Maizee

Hey guys and gals, I really, really need your help right now.

Our girl, Maizee, has an unusual problem that her vet has no idea what's going on and I was wondering if any of you have any ideas or experience with this problem.

A Bit of History

About a week ago, Maizee seemed off. Nothing I could put my finger on, she seemed to be a little lethargic, but appetite was good, just not her usual bright spark of a girl. She went on walks all week, but stayed close to us and didn't run around at top speed like she usually does. I was thinking it was her cancer bothering her as the tumor is back and bigger than it was initially. When I touched it lightly, she winced a bit, but she isn't limping or anything. (for the record, she has a hemangiopericytoma that was removed a year ago. It's a slow-growing, non-metastatic type of cancer and leg removal will cure it. no doubt it will, but we chose to keep her leg until it returns, and now it has, so now we have to revisit that a later time). For the time being, I'm pretty sure this isn't cancer related.

On to the problem at hand: Maizee can't seem to close her mouth. This started Friday night, with her just holding her mouth a little ajar, like she was sniffing something. By Sunday, her mouth was about an inch open. She is able to close it if she's resting her chin on something, but otherwise her mouth is open. If she's sleeping on her side, her mouth is open. Eating is becoming a problem as she has difficulty keeping the food in, even if we hand feed her small amounts. (she is on a raw diet, so not a lot of crunch there) Drinking water is becoming more of a problem because the water just runs out before she swallows. I've been holding the dish right under her mouth and I think she gets some, but don't really know how much.

We had a vet appointment today and he's stumped. He spent a half hour manipulating her jaw, palpating, poking and Maizee took it all without protest. She doesn't seem to be in pain...

Her jaw has good mobility, so it's not dislocated. There doesn't seem to be anything in her mouth or jaw that's preventing her from closing, because she can close it, just not on her own. It doesn't seem to hurt if it's opened, or closed by the vet, but she just can't hold it closed. We even turned her on her back to see if gravity could close it, which it did and it can remain shut, but as we righted her, it opened again.

There doesn't seem to be any obvious trauma that's causing it.

What the vet did find though is a certain amount of atrophy of the main muscle that runs from the top of her head to her jaw. He found this surprising and could not think of why it would be happening. Atrophy suggests something happening over time, so what could it be? He drew some blood and we'll have the results tomorrow morning. He was thinking Addison's, or some type of thyroid problem perhaps, but it's really quite a mystery. Her temp was the low end of normal, but her heart rate was slow - unusual for her as she is quite the athlete and has always had a good strong heartbeat.

I am hoping to get this post out to as many people as I know in the hope that someone might have and idea or opinion on what might be going on with Maizee. Please feel free to post this link to as many people as you can think of who might be able to help.
(Here's Maizee with her favourite bone a few months ago, so she's used to working her jaw muscles quite a bit as we always have large bones for the girls to chew on...)

Our girl is a 9 year old, spayed, Greyhound/English Pointer cross. She was hit by a car about a year and a half before we got her (we've had her coming up on 4 years this fall) and so far that accident hasn't had an impact on her health. Maizee also has Pannus, a condition of the eyes where for some reason, usually an injury, the body starts rejecting the corneas and begins to grow capillaries across it, eventually causing blindness.

I'm wondering if this jaw thing is some form of a Bell's palsy type thing, or something like it, where you get a weird neurological thing that comes out of the blue, runs it's course, and moves on???

Really - any thoughts would be appreciated.

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