In this article, we wanted to take a moment and discuss a medical condition known as craniomandibular osteopathy, mainly because it’s a medical term with over ten syllables. We know how “some” vets have a terrible time making things easier to understand. And because this is an “inheritable” disease that can affect many prevalent dog breeds today, hopefully, if we can “shed” a little light on this condition, it could help folks understand what questions they need to ask their breeders so that they can avoid personally encountering this disease later on.
So, without further ado, let’s dive right in!
What is Craniomandibular osteopathy in dogs?
As mentioned, this is a disease of the skill, particularly the lower jaw. Perhaps you’ve already heard of osteoporosis – the weakening of the bones. This is similar, but in this case, only the bones in the head and jaw are affected. What specifically happens in this disease is that the body begins to “break down” and “absorb” regular bone material in the head and jaw and replace it with new immature bone material. While this may not seem like a problem at first, what happens is that they begin to occur over and over again, creating lesions within the bone and bone deformities as well.
The cause of craniomandibular osteopathy…
It is due to a genetic “mutation” within the DNA itself. Fortunately, the gene responsible for the development of craniomandibular osteopathy is a recessive one, meaning that not all dogs who carry the gene will develop this disorder; however, even those who do not “develop” this condition can still pass it down to their offspring, who might!
The excellent news is…
You can avoid purchasing or adopting a dog with this disease if you work with a reputable breeder who has very accurate information about the genealogy of their dogs. This way, any incidences of craniomandibular osteopathy in the dog’s family history (including littermates of the dog and the dog’s parents) can be noted and thus “bred” out of their breeding stock.
Symptoms of Craniomandibular Osteopathy
You will usually see clinical signs of this in puppies. So, if you do not see it during the first 4-9 months of your dog’s life, there is a good chance your dog won’t face this problem, even if they are an at-risk breed. Young dogs who do have a mandible problem such as craniomandibular osteopathy will show signs like:
- Difficulty eating,
- Pain whenever they have to open their mouth,
- Depression or sadness,
- Excessive drooling,
- Recurring fever,
- Jaw swelling.
Some of the dogs at risk of this kind of bone growth problem include:
- West Highland White Terriers or “Westies”,
- Boston Terriers,
- Scottish Terriers,
- Doberman Pinschers,
- Labrador Retrievers,
- Great Danes.
Of course, even if your dog is not one of these breeds, it is still possible (albeit a slim chance) that they will develop a problem with the mandible.
Diagnosis of Craniomandibular Osteopathy
To diagnose craniomandibular osteopathy, or “lion’s jaw,” sometimes referred to, your veterinarian will most likely order an x-ray of the skull to see what’s happening in your dog’s facial bones. They may also perform a blood test to see if your puppy is a “carrier” for the gene responsible for causing craniomandibular osteopathy to develop in particular dogs.
This is essential because…
It is possible that your dog may not have craniomandibular osteopathy even though it may be “exhibiting” many of the common symptoms associated with this disorder. They could have some other bone disease, such as infantile cortical hyperostosis or hypertrophic osteodystrophy, which appears in long bones and the mandible. And if you are only seeing problems in the jaw or face, the veterinary diagnosis may ultimately be tympanic bullae, a problem with the middle ear cavity. Which is why, with all of these possible causes, what’s wrong with your dog? It’s so important to have a “professional” examine your animal and not leave it up to you or an article like this one.
This brings us to the part of the article where…
We want to remind all our readers that we here at IndulgeYourPet are not doctors, veterinarians, or even medical professionals. We are all a bunch of folks passionate about animals and only want what’s best for them. So, if your dog may suffer from craniomandibular osteopathy or any other medical condition, do the smart thing and have your vet check them out. This way, you can know what is wrong with them and get them the treatment they need.
Unfortunately, researchers haven’t been able to develop a cure for this condition yet, which means that this condition will be something your dog will have to live with. Some people find that anti-inflammatory drugs (often non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs) can help with pain or discomfort. Other options are cortisone shots in the jaw, so your veterinarian may prescribe these medications for your dog. But ultimately, this will have to be a decision you and your veterinarian make together. We can tell you that any time you have an animal diagnosed with a progressive, non-curable illness likely to remain with them for life, you can bet that their medical bills will add up over time!
This is why…
We always like to remind all of our readers about the importance of purchasing a pet insurance policy on all of their pets so that if they ever do develop an illness or suffer from an accident that causes them to require serious medical care, you, as their owner won’t be on the “hook” for 100% of those bills.
For more information about who we currently “feel” offer some of the “best” pet insurance policies today, we strongly encourage you to check out our Best Pet Insurance Companies article.