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Craniomandibular Osteopathy in Dogs… What it is, and What it Means to be Diagnosed with it!

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 10 syllables to it and we know how “some” vets have a terrible time making things easier to understand.


Because this is an “inheritable” disease which can affect many very popular dog breeds today so 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, and in particular the lower jaw. Perhaps you’ve already heard of osteoporosis – the weakening of the bones. Well, this is sort of 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” normal bone material in the head and jaw and replace it with new immature bone material.  And 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…

Is due to a genetic “mutation” within the actual 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 good news is…

That you can avoid purchasing or adopting a dog with this disease if choose to work with a reputable breeder has very accurate information about the genealogy of his or her 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 “breed” out of his or her 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, then there is a good chance your dog won’t face this problem, even if he or she is an at-risk breed.

Young dogs who do have a mandible problem such as craniomandibular osteopathy will show signs like:

  • Difficulty eating,
  • Pain whenever he/she has 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 includes:

Of course, even if your dog is not one of these breeds, it is still possible (albeit a slim chance) that he or she will develop a problem with the mandible.

Diagnosis of Craniomandibular Osteopathy

In order to make a definitive diagnosis of craniomandibular osteopathy or “lion’s jaw” as it is 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.

He or she may also…

Perform a blood test to see if your puppy is a “carrier” for the gene that is responsible for causing craniomandibular osteopathy to develop in certain dogs.

Which is important because…

It is possible that your dog many not actually have craniomandibular osteopathy even though he or she may be “exhibiting” many of the common symptoms associated with this disorder.

You see…

He or she could have some other bone disease such as infantile cortical hyperostosis or perhaps hypertrophic osteodystrophy which appears in long bones as well as the mandible.


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 for 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.

Which brings us the part of the article where…

We like to remind all of our readers once again that we here at IndulgeYourPet are not doctors, veterinarians or even medical professionals.  All we are is a bunch of folks who are passionate about animals and only want what’s best for them.


If you think that your dog may be suffering rom craniomandibular osteopathy, or any other medical condition for that matter, do the smart thing and have your vet check them out.  This way you can know for sure what is wrong with him or her and get them the treatment they need.

Treatment Options for Craniomandibular Osteopathy

Unfortunately, researchers haven’t been able to develop a cure for this condition as of yet.  Which means that this condition will simply be something that your dog will have to live with.

Now some people…

Some people find that anti-inflammatory drugs (often non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs) can help with any pain or discomfort. Other options are cortisone shots in the jaw, which is why it’s possible that your veterinarian may prescribe these medications for your dog.

But ultimately…

This will have to be a decision that you and your veterinarian make together.  What we can tell you is that any time you have an animal that is diagnosed with a progressive, non-curable illness that is likely to remain with them for life, you can pretty much bet that his or her 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 in the industry today, we would strongly encourage you to check out our Best Pet Insurance Companies article.

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