If your dog suddenly seems unable to close his mouth and continuously drools all over the house, trigeminal neuritis or drop jaw syndrome might be to blame. There’s injury to the nerve that controls the lower jaw muscles. Your dog might have difficulty eating and drinking, and although it doesn’t look pleasant, the condition isn’t painful. It might take up to two weeks for spontaneous recovery to occur. During this time, it’s your job as the pet parent to assist your pet pal with eating and drinking to keep dehydration and malnutrition at bay.
Helping Your Dog with Eating
Trigeminal neuritis doesn’t affect your dog’s ability to swallow; it just makes it harder for him to get food from his bowl into his mouth. In the early stages of the disease your dog might still have some ability to eat and drink on his own. Raising his feeding and drinking bowls just below the height of his head might make it easier for him to get food and water in his mouth, because he can keep his head parallel to the floor.
If your dog’s condition worsens and he eating starts getting messier, hand feeding might be required. You can make small meatballs from canned dog food and place these on the back of your dog’s tongue so he can easily swallow them one by one.
Helping Your Dog with Drinking
To keep your dog hydrated, purchase a water bottle with a rolling ball attachment, and hang this upside down just above your dog’s head level. The bottle works similar to the upside down bottles that rabbits use. When your dog moves the rolling ball with his tongue, the water flows out of the bottle. To get him to use the bottle, rub some peanut butter on the bottle opening.
Another way to give your dog water is with a large syringe that’s inserted in the corner of his mouth, between his teeth and cheek. Although you might be tempted to tilt his head back, keep it level to prevent to liquid from going into his windpipe. Slowly squeeze the water out of the syringe, giving your dog enough time to swallow it. You can also use a syringe to give your dog pureed food in this manner.
Always work with your veterinarian and consult him about properly caring for your dog. If you can’t get your dog to eat or drink, your veterinarian might suggest administering him to a veterinary hospital, placing a feeding tube in him and giving him subcutaneous fluids.
PetMD: Paralysis of the Jaw in Dogs
The Complete Healthy Dog Handbook: Betsy Brevitz
Washington State University: College of Veterinary Medicine: Giving Oral Fluids to a Dog