Dogs can feel a lot of pain and fear if they break their jawbone. Our vets at Tender Care Animal Hospital are here to help you understand what can cause this injury, how to treat it, and how to take care of your furry friend afterwards.
Causes of a Broken Jaw in Dogs
Dogs can experience a broken jaw, also known as a mandibular fracture, due to either trauma or periodontal disease. Trauma can happen from a dog getting hit by a car or getting into a fight with another dog. Periodontal disease 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 experiences vehicular trauma or a dogfight, it is important to have them checked for other injuries. If a fracture occurs, take your dog to the vet 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, 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 an easier procedure and doesn't require a complicated surgery. The goal is to make sure that the teeth line up properly.
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 can usually be fixed well, except for a few cases. 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, small, old dogs with bad teeth that break their jaw during surgery may not heal as well. The chances of recovery also depend on how severe the injury is, if the blood supply is damaged, and if there's bacterial infection.
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.