Skip to Main Content
Ask About Financing

Broken Jaws in Dogs: Causes & Treatments

A fractured jaw can happen unexpectedly and have a number of potential causes. Jaw fractures are especially common in small breeds of dogs. Here, our Westfield vets discuss broken jaws in dogs and how surgery may be able to repair and treat this type of injury.

What causes a dog to have a broken jaw?

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 Importance of Treating a Dog With a Broken Jaw

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.

By treating the broken jaw, we can help your dog feel better and regain the function of their mouth.

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. 

Some dogs may be unable to eat on their own after veterinary surgery for jaw repair. A syringe or feeding tube may be beneficial to ensuring proper feeding of your dog.

Treating a Dog With a Broken Jaw

Surgery is the most common treatment when it comes to repairing broken jaws in dogs. 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, your pet needs 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.

What to Expect While Your Dog Recovers From a Broken Jaw

While jaw repairs in dogs are typically successful, there are some instances where it can be less so. 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.

If the cause behind the broken jaw is a simple fall or accident, you will likely be able to expect a pretty good prognosis. 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.

How to Care For Your Dog After Jaw Surgery

Once your dog's surgery is complete, the vet will be out to discuss the procedure and share information on how to care for your dog's jaw while they recover. 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 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.

Don't fret too much about this part of the recovery process. Your vet will provide complete instructions for the use and care of your dog's feeding tube.

Are there any concerns for dogs after surgery to fix a broken jaw?

No matter what surgical procedure your dog has, there will be some amount of risk. By following your vet's pre- and post-op care recommendations you can help to diminish this risk.

One of the most common complications that can be easily avoided is infection. While the possibility of occurrence is lowered with proper care and medications during recovery, you should still be aware of the signs (such as redness, swelling, and more.) and contact your vet if you have any concerns.

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 is experincing pain or injury to their jaw, please contact Westfield vets today to schedule an examination.

Welcoming New Patients, Westfield Vet

Now Welcoming New Patients

Looking for a vet in Westfield? Our vets at Westfield Animal Hospital are now accepting new patients! Our friendly and welcoming vets love providing cats, dogs, and exotic pets with high-quality veterinary care. Contact us today to schedule an appointment.

Contact Us

Contact (908) 233-6030