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pain after root canal

Species: Dog
Breed: Lab Mix
Age: 5-8 years
Had major teeth work performed about 3 months ago as we noticed her breath and she whinned when eating. Root canal on back teeth, several chipped etc. Following the procedure she was fine for about five days, then developed what best could be described as looking like a stiff neck. Doesn't want to shake her head vigorously, holds her neck down and just moves her eyes rather than her head to look at things. She won't jump up/down from the bed and is just cautious looking. Vets put her on a treatment of prednisone for several weeks, she was back to normal but when we backed completely off she was back to her cautious behavior.

They tested all bloodwork, vital organ functions etc. all were negative. Valley fever, negative.

We now give her 10 mg. of prednisone twice daily and she is back to normal. However, if we miss even one dose or delay a dose much past 14 to 18 hours she is back to that stiff neck look and obviously in pain.

Our local vet office with six vets, just do not know what is going on. Help!!!!

Online vet, Dr. Marie

Dr. Marie replied:

Oh, poor Bailey!

This is definitely an unusual situation. I'm not sure how much I can help without examining her, but let me give you a few thoughts.

It does seem coincidental that this happened after her dentistry. I can think of a few possible reasons why, but it may be difficult to determine.

First, it is possible that she has some dental pain from the sites of the root canals. From personal experience I know that any root canal (even when done by a great dentist) has the potential for complications. You may want to ask your vet for a referral to a veterinary dentist to assess whether these problems are stemming from dental pain. If so, the answer may be to extract the affected teeth.

In people, we can sometimes get lasting nerve pain after administering local anesthetic for a dental block. While it has not been reported in animals, it is worth asking your vet (or the veterinary dentist) about the possibility of this.

A back or neck problem could cause similar symptoms as well. Unfortunately though these can be hard to diagnose without an MRI. MRI's are usually available in most major cities but can be expensive.

It sounds like it may be a good idea to ask your vet for a referral to a specialist. You could start with a veterinary dentist, or perhaps an internal medicine specialist.

I wish I could add more to help. I really hope she is feeling better soon.

Dr. Marie.

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Disclaimer: Although Dr. Marie is a qualified veterinarian, the information found on this site is not meant to replace the advice of your own veterinarian. and Dr. Marie do not accept any responsibility for any loss, damage, injury, death, or disease which may arise from reliance on information contained on this site. Do not use information found on this site for diagnosing or treating your pet. Anything you read here is for information only.

Customer reply:

Does it make sense for such a low dosage of prednisone to quickly bring her out of these symptoms? It is amazing how just several hours after we give her the 10 mg. she goes from what seems to be a lot of pain to running around and wanting to eat everything.

Online vet, Dr. Marie

Dr. Marie replied:

Prednisone can be a good anti-inflammatory drug so if there is pain present (no matter if it is dental pain, neck pain or back pain) then it really can be helpful.

It's not a long term solution though. We need to find out why she is having pain!

Online vet, Dr. Marie

Dr. Marie replied:

I just had one additional thought. It is worthwhile to ask your vet about a condition called trigeminal neuritis. This is a condition that causes extreme pain in the jaw area and does respond usually to prednisone.

It really is not common, but worth looking into.

Dr. Marie.

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Dr. MarieDr. Marie is a veterinarian who practices in a busy animal hospital in Ottawa, Ontario. She created Ask A Vet Question as a resource for good, accurate veterinary advice online. Dr. Marie treats dogs, cats, hamsters, guinea pigs, and rats. She has been a vet since 1999.

Is an online vet visit just as good as a trip to your veterinarian? No! But, many times, asking an online veterinarian a question can help save you money. While Dr. Marie can't officially diagnose your pet or prescribe medications, she can often advise you on whether a vet visit is necessary. You can also ask Dr. Marie for a second opinion on your pet's condition.