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Broken Jaws in Dogs: Causes & Treatments

Dogs may experience significant pain and fear when they sustain a jawbone fracture. The veterinarians at Shatto Veterinary Center are available to guide you through understanding the causes of this injury, the appropriate treatment, and how to care for your furry friend afterward.

Causes of a Broken Jaw in Dogs

Dogs may sustain a mandibular fracture, commonly known as a broken jaw, either through trauma or periodontal disease. Traumatic incidents, such as being hit by a car or engaging in a fight with another dog, can lead to broken jaws in dogs.

Innocuous activities like chewing on a toy or biting down on food can lead to jawbone fractures due to the weakened strength caused by periodontal disease.

Promptly checking for other potential injuries is crucial if your dog experiences vehicular trauma or a dogfight. If your dog experiences a fracture, it is important to promptly take them to the vet or seek emergency care. The fracture should be addressed once your dog has been stabilized.

The Goal of Repairing a Jaw Fracture

When your dog experiences a jaw fracture, our main goal during surgery is to promptly relieve any discomfort, ensuring that your dog can eat and rest comfortably. Improper healing of the upper or lower jaw can result in problems with teeth alignment. Preventing harm to the nerves and blood vessels in the jaw is crucial.

We want to mend the fracture and help your dog fully recover.

How to Feed a Dog With a Broken Jaw

Feeding a dog with a broken jaw requires some adjustments to ensure their comfort and proper nutrition. We recommend soft or liquid-based food, such as wet canned food or a specially formulated soft diet. It may be necessary to blend or puree the food to make it easier for the dog to eat. 

Using a syringe or feeding tube may be necessary in severe cases where the dog is unable to eat on their own. 

Treating Jaw Fractures in Dogs

If your pet's jaw is broken, it may need surgery to fix it. In these cases, surgeons frequently use metal plates, screws, and wires. However, less severe fractures can be treated with acrylic splints, which provide a simpler procedure without the requirement for complex surgery. Proper alignment of the teeth is the main goal.

After the splint is put in place, it's important for your pet to avoid chewing on hard objects for a few weeks. Furthermore, it is recommended to provide them with soft food until the vet authorizes a transition back to a hard food diet. You can remove the splint once the fracture has completely healed. Another anesthetized procedure may be required to remove the wire or splint, if necessary.

The Prognosis for a Jaw Fracture Repair

In most cases, repairing jaw fractures is highly effective, although there are a few exceptions. Maxillary fractures typically exhibit stability and yield favorable outcomes. However, the prognosis for mandibular fractures can be more uncertain, depending on the cause of the injury.

When stemming from a minor fall, the prognosis is usually positive. However, older dogs with small size and dental issues may have a more challenging recovery if they sustain a jaw break during surgery. Recovery depends on the severity of the injury, any damage to the blood supply, and the presence of bacterial infection.

Caring for Your Dog After Jaw Surgery

After repairing the broken bone, your vet will give you home care instructions for your dog. Make sure to confine your dog and use a leash to prevent any activities that could potentially cause more harm.

Furthermore, it may be beneficial to feed your dog a soft diet or paste food in order to reduce the amount of pressure exerted on the healing bone. At first, your dog may need a feeding tube, which can be a bit daunting. However, dogs usually adjust quickly and handle it well.

Your vet will give you detailed instructions on how to use and take care of the feeding tube.

Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding pets. For an accurate diagnosis of your pet's condition, please make an appointment with your vet.

If your dog has just had jaw surgery and you have questions about how to care for them, please contact Los Angeles vets today!

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