Dogs can experience a lot of pain and fear if they break their jaw. Our veterinarians in Clearlake are here to help you understand what can cause this injury, how to treat it, and how to care for your four-legged friend at home.
Causes of a Broken Jaw in Dogs
Dogs can suffer a fractured jaw, also known as a mandibular fracture, as a result of trauma or periodontal disease. Trauma can be caused by a hit by a car or a fight with another dog. Periodontal disease weakens the jawbone, increasing the risk of fracture for a dog chewing on a toy or crunching on food.
If your dog is the victim of vehicle trauma or a dog fight, it's important to have him checked for other injuries. In the event of a fracture, take your dog to the vet or seek emergency treatment, then treat the fracture once your dog's condition has stabilized.
The Goal of Repairing a Jaw Fracture
When your dog's jaw is fractured, the main objective of surgery is to ensure that your dog can eat and rest without discomfort as quickly as possible. If the upper or lower jaw does not heal properly, this can lead to problems with the teeth fitting together. It is essential to avoid damaging the nerves and blood vessels in the jaw. The ultimate goal is to repair the fracture and help your dog fully recover.
Treating Jaw Fractures in Dogs
If your pet has a broken jaw, it may need surgery to repair it. Doctors sometimes use plates, screws, and wires to fix the jaw. But for less serious fractures, they may use acrylic splints. This is a more straightforward procedure that does not require complicated surgery. The aim is to ensure that the teeth align correctly.
After the splint has been fitted, your pet should avoid chewing hard objects for a few weeks. You should also feed him soft food until the vet tells you it's possible to return to hard food. Once the fracture has healed, the splint can be removed. The wire or splint can be removed during another procedure under anesthetic.
The Prognosis for a Jaw Fracture Repair
Fractures of the jaw can generally be easily repaired, except in a few cases. Maxillary fractures are generally stable and have a good outcome, while mandibular fractures can have a more uncertain outcome, depending on the cause of the injury. If the fall is minor, the prognosis is generally reasonable. However, older small dogs with bad teeth who fracture their jaw during surgery may also not heal. The chances of recovery also depend on the severity of the injury, whether the blood supply has been impaired, and whether a bacterial infection is present.
How to Feed a Dog With a Broken Jaw
Feed only softened food until your vet tells you that it's safe for them to eat hard food again.
Caring for Your Dog After Jaw Surgery
After repairing the broken bone, your vet will give you instructions on caring for your dog at home. This includes keeping your dog confined and on a leash so he doesn't run, play, or jump around, causing further damage. It's also a good idea to give your dog a soft diet or paste-processed food to reduce the pressure on the bone while it heals. At first, your dog may need a feeding tube, which may seem frightening, but most dogs adapt quickly and tolerate it well. Your veterinarian will give you detailed instructions on the use and care of the feeding tube and specific feeding instructions.