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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 Animal Hospital of Redondo Beach 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 this condition.

Additionally, periodontal disease can compromise the jawbone's strength, increasing the likelihood of a fracture even from seemingly innocuous activities like chewing on a toy or biting down on food.

If your dog undergoes vehicular trauma or a dogfight, it is crucial to check for other potential injuries promptly. In the event of a fracture, take your dog to the vet or seek emergency care, addressing the fracture once they have been stabilized.

The Goal of Repairing a Jaw Fracture

When your dog suffers a jaw fracture, the primary objective of surgery is to swiftly alleviate any discomfort, ensuring your dog can eat and rest comfortably. Incorrect healing of the upper or lower jaw may lead to issues with the alignment of their teeth. It is imperative to prevent harm to the nerves and blood vessels in the jaw.

The ultimate aim is to mend the fracture and facilitate a complete recovery for your dog.

Treating Jaw Fractures in Dogs

If your pet experiences a broken jaw, it may require surgery for correction. Surgeons often utilize metal plates, screws, and wires in these cases. However, acrylic splints may be employed for less severe fractures, offering a more straightforward procedure that eliminates the need for complex surgery. The primary objective is to ensure proper alignment of the teeth.

Following the placement of the splint, your pet should refrain from chewing on hard objects for a few weeks. Additionally, it is advisable to feed them soft food until the vet approves a return to a hard food diet. Once the fracture has fully healed, the splint can be removed. If necessary, removing the wire or splint may involve another anesthetized procedure.

The Prognosis for a Jaw Fracture Repair

Generally, jaw fractures can be effectively repaired, with a few exceptions. Maxillary fractures typically exhibit stability and yield favorable outcomes. On the other hand, mandibular fractures may result in a more uncertain prognosis, contingent upon the cause of the injury.

When stemming from a minor fall, the prognosis is usually positive. Nevertheless, small, elderly dogs with deteriorated teeth that sustain a jaw break during surgery may experience less successful healing. The likelihood of recovery also hinges on the severity of the injury, potential damage to the blood supply, and the presence of bacterial infection.

Caring for Your Dog After Jaw Surgery

Your vet will provide you with home care instructions for your dog after repairing the broken bone. These guidelines include confining your dog and using a leash to prevent running, playing, or jumping that could cause further damage.

Additionally, consider feeding your dog a soft diet or paste food to minimize pressure on the healing bone. Initially, your dog may require a feeding tube, which might seem intimidating, but most dogs adapt quickly and tolerate it well.

Your vet will provide comprehensive guidance on the proper use and maintenance of the feeding tube, along with specific instructions.

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

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Animal Hospital of Redondo Beach is accepting new patients! Our experienced vets are passionate about the health of Los Angeles County companion animals. Get in touch today to book your pet's first appointment.

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