Dogs can feel a lot of pain and fear if they break their jawbone. Our vets at Ambassador Dog & Cat Hospital 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 may endure a mandibular fracture, commonly referred to as a broken jaw, as a result of either traumatic incidents or periodontal disease. Trauma can arise from accidents such as a dog being struck by a vehicle or engaging in altercations with other dogs.
On the other hand, periodontal disease can weaken the jawbone, making it susceptible to fractures from routine activities like chewing toys or biting down on food.
In the event of vehicular trauma or a dogfight, it is imperative to have your canine companion examined for potential injuries. If a fracture is confirmed, promptly seek veterinary attention or emergency care, addressing the fracture once your pet is 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 crucial to avoid injuring the nerves and blood vessels in the jaw. The ultimate goal is to repair the fracture and help your dog recover fully.
Treating Jaw Fractures in Dogs
If your pet has a broken jaw, it may need surgery to fix it. Sometimes, doctors use metal plates, screws, and wires to fix the jaw. But for less serious fractures, they may use acrylic splints instead. This is a more straightforward procedure and doesn't require complicated surgery. The goal is to make sure that the teeth line up properly.
Once the acrylic splint is in place, your pet needs to refrain from chewing on hard objects for a specified period, typically a few weeks. Additionally, a soft food diet should be maintained until the veterinarian provides clearance to transition back to a regular diet.
Following the complete healing of the fracture, the splint can be removed. In some instances, the removal of the wire or splint may necessitate another procedure, performed under anesthesia if required.
The Prognosis for a Jaw Fracture Repair
Jaw fractures are typically treatable with positive outcomes, though there are exceptions. Maxillary fractures generally exhibit stability and tend to yield favorable results. In contrast, mandibular fractures may have a less predictable outcome, contingent upon the underlying cause of the injury.
In cases resulting from minor falls, the prognosis is often favorable. Nevertheless, small, elderly dogs with compromised dental health who sustain jaw fractures during surgical procedures may experience less successful recoveries. The likelihood of a full recovery also hinges on the severity of the injury, potential impairment 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, as well as specific feeding instructions.