Skip to Main Content

Healthy Pet Care Tips

Broken Jaws in Dogs: Causes & Treatments

It can be a very painful and scary experience for your dog if they suffer a broken jawbone. Today's post explains the causes of a broken jaw in dogs, how the injury can be repaired, and how to care for your pet after this injury.

Causes of a Broken Jaw in Dogs

Mandibular fractures tend to occur because of a trauma, or as a result of periodontal disease. Common traumatic events include a dog being struck by a car or an altercation with another dog.

Periodontal disease can increase your dog's risk of suffering a jaw fracture. The bone loss caused by periodontal disease weakens the mandible, predisposing it to fracture when a dog does something as simple as bumping into furniture, chewing on one of their toys, or even biting down on a piece of food.

In the case of vehicular trauma or an altercation with another dog, it is important to have your pet fully evaluated for additional injuries. When serious trauma occurs it is always best to have your pet seen by your vet right away or seek emergency veterinary care. Once the dog is stabilized, or treated for other injuries, the jaw fracture can be addressed.

The Goal of Repairing a Jaw Fracture

The most important objective in jaw fracture repair surgery is to allow your dog to eat and rest comfortably as soon as possible after the injury. If the broken jaw heals in the wrong alignment, malocclusion can lead to further complications. It is very important to avoid injury to the tooth roots and the neurovascular (nerve and blood vessels) bundle within the mandibular or infraorbital canals. Your veterinarian will do everything they can to successfully repair the fracture and get your dog back to their regular day-to-day activities as quickly as possible.

Treating Jaw Fractures in Dogs

Repairing a jaw fracture with metal plates, screws, and wires is sometimes required, but some fractures can be treated with acrylic splints. Splints are less complex to place and in many cases, do not require a complicated surgical incision. The main goal of treatment is to make sure that the teeth line up correctly.

Once an acrylic splint is in place, your pet will need to abstain from chewing on toys or anything hard for several weeks. Put away any hard toys which may cause the acrylic splint to become dislodged. Feed only softened food until your vet tells you that it’s safe for them to eat hard food again. Once the doctor feels that the fracture site is healed, some X-rays may be required to confirm healing. If the fracture is healed, the splint is removed.

Depending on the method used to repair the fracture, one last procedure may need to be scheduled to remove the wire or splint in the mouth.

The Prognosis for a Jaw Fracture Repair

The prognosis for jaw fracture repair typically ranges from good to excellent, with a few exceptions. Maxillary fractures tend to be fairly stable and carry an excellent prognosis. The prognosis for mandibular fractures is more variable and heavily influenced by the cause(s) of the fracture(s). Mandibular fractures resulting from minor trauma, such as a mild fall, tend to have a great prognosis.

Older, small-breed dogs with severe periodontal disease that suffer fractures during surgical extractions tend to have less-than-ideal healing characteristics. The prognosis may be poor, guarded, or fair.

The prognosis also depends on the severity of the injury. If the neurovascular blood supply is damaged, the prognosis is reduced. The cause of the trauma, impact force, duration of the injury, and bacterial contamination all play a role in your dog's outcome.

Caring for Your Dog After Jaw Surgery

After repairing the fracture, your vet will provide detailed instructions regarding home care for your dog. Patients need to be confined and kept on a leash to minimize running, playing, or jumping around during the healing process. Regardless of the type of repair technique used, we often recommend that pet owners feed a soft diet or food made into a paste-like consistency to minimize pressure and motion around the fracture.

Initially, a feeding tube may be necessary while a pet adapts to their new situation. Feeding tubes can sound scary to pet owners, however, most dogs adjust quickly and tolerate the feeding tube very well. Detailed instructions for the feeding tube including how to use it, care for it, and specific feeding instructions are always fully explained and written down for your reference. 

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.

Has your dog suffered a broken jaw? Contact a PetVet Care Centers location near you to have your pup's jaw repaired right away.

Find a Vet Near You

Our veterinary teams understand how precious your pet is to you. We offer the quality of care you expect for your furry friends.

Find a Hospital

Practice OwnersCareers