Dogs can experience significant pain and fear if they injure their jawbone. Our vets at Little Miami Veterinary Services are here to help you understand what can cause this injury, how to treat it, and how to care for your furry friend afterward.
Causes of a Broken Jaw in Dogs
Dogs can get a broken jaw, which is also called a mandibular fracture, due to either trauma or periodontal disease. An accident could be a car hitting them or a fight with another dog. Periodontal disease also weakens the jawbone, making it more likely for a dog to suffer a fracture from something as simple as chewing on a toy or biting down on food. If your dog has an accident or a fight, it's important to check for other injuries. If their jaw is broken, take them to the vet or get or seek emergency care, and address the fracture once they are stabilized.
The Goal of Repairing a Jaw Fracture
When your dog's jaw is fractured, the surgery's main goal is to ensure your dog can eat and rest without any discomfort as quickly as possible. If the upper or lower jaw heals in the wrong way, it can cause problems with how their teeth fit together. It's important to prevent harm to the nerves and blood vessels in the jaw. The main objective is to fix the fracture and assist your dog in making a full recovery.
Treating Jaw Fractures in Dogs
If your pet has a broken jaw, it might need surgery to fix it. Sometimes, doctors use metal plates, screws, and wires for this. But for less severe fractures, they might use acrylic splints, a more straightforward procedure that doesn't need complex surgery. The main goal is to make sure the teeth align correctly.
After the splint is put in, your pet should avoid chewing on hard objects for a few weeks. You should also feed them soft food until the vet says it's okay to switch back to hard food. Once the fracture has healed, the splint can be removed. If necessary, the wire or splint may need to be removed in another anesthetized procedure.
The Prognosis for a Jaw Fracture Repair
Jaw fractures are typically treatable, but there are exceptions. Maxillary fractures are usually stable and have a great outcome, while mandibular fractures can have a more uncertain outcome, depending on what caused the injury. If it's from a minor fall, the prognosis is usually good. However, older, small dogs with dental issues who sustain jaw injuries during surgery may not recover as effectively. The chances of recovery also hinge on the injury's severity, any damage to the blood supply, and the presence of bacterial infections.
Caring for Your Dog After Jaw Surgery
Your vet will give you instructions on how to care for your dog at home after they fix the broken bone. This includes keeping your dog confined and on a leash so they don't run, play, or jump around and cause more damage. It's also a good idea to feed your dog a soft diet or food that has been made into a paste to reduce pressure on the bone while it heals.
Your dog might need a feeding tube at first, which can seem scary, but most dogs adjust quickly and tolerate it well. Your vet will give you detailed instructions on how to use and care for the feeding tube and specific feeding instructions.