Craniomandibular osteopathy in dogs

Craniomandibular osteopathy in dogs

What is Craniomandibular osteopathy?

Craniomandibular osteopathy or osteoarthropathy is a condition where an abnormal growth of bone occurs on the lower jaw bone of the dog, or over the angel of the mandible and tympanic bulla. This growth is not cancerous, and most dogs will recover as they grow older. Without treatment, craniomandibular osteopathy can however make it difficult or impossible for the dog to eat and veterinary attention is therefore recommended. The condition can also be very painful for the dog, and fever can set it.

Symptoms of Craniomandibular osteopathy

The first symptom of Craniomandibular osteopathy noticed by the dog owner is usually that the puppy seems to be in pain while eating or chewing. The puppy can also be very reluctant to have its mouth examined. It can often be impossible for the ordinary dog owner to notice any abnormalities with the jaw.

Craniomandibular osteopathy usually manifests when the puppy is 4-7 months old, but symptoms can appear when the dog is no more than 3-4 weeks of age. In some dogs, there are no symptoms at all until the dog is 10 months old.
In most dogs, Craniomandibular osteopathy is bilateral, but there are exceptions. 

Breeds with an increased risk of developing Craniomandibular osteopathy

Craniomandibular osteopathy is most common in West Highland White Terriers, but it occurs in a lot of other terrier breeds as well, including Scottish Terriers, Boston Terriers, and Cairn Terriers. It has also been diagnosed in Great Danes, Doberman Pinschers, and Labrador Retrievers. It is believed to be hereditary in Bulldogs as well, but more research is necessary before anyone can know for sure.

Craniomandibular osteopathy is inherited as a simple autosomal recessive trait.

Craniomandibular osteopathy treatment

Craniomandibular osteopathy can be treated with anti-inflammatory drugs, usually cortisone. The most commonly used drug to treat craniomandibular osteopathy is Prednisone. If your dog has a very mild case of Craniomandibular osteopathy, giving it baby aspirin can be enough to keep the pain away. In such cases, the veterinarian might also administer one single cortisone injection.

Always consult a veterinarian to obtain a definite diagnosis and discuss which type of anti-inflammatory drug that is ideal for your particular dog, and how it should be administered. How much medication and for how many weeks depend in part on how severe the problems are. In most cases, a dog with Craniomandibular osteopathy needs to be treated with anti-inflammatory drugs for a longer period of time, typically 4-10 months.

Since anti-inflammatory drugs often lead to problematic side-effects, it is important to find the lowest possible dosage for your particular dog.

If you give your dog Prednisone, keep in mind that this drug causes increased thirst and hunger. Your dog will also need to urinate more frequently.

It is very important not to stop giving your dog the anti-inflammatory drugs when you notice an improvement, because the symptoms of Craniomandibular osteopathy tend to run in cycles of 10-14 days. If you stop treating your dog, the symptoms will soon reappear.

When it is time to wean your dog off the cortisone, you must make it a slow and gradual process. An abrupt halt is not a good idea. In some situations, you may be forced to increase the dosage again to deal with reoccurring pain and/or fever.

Skeletal and muscular disorders in dogs: (click for more info)
Canine hip dysplasia
Congenital vertebral anomalies in dogs
Craniomandibular osteopathy in dogs
Elbow dysplasia in dogs
Hypertrophic Osteodystrophy in dogs
Hypertrophic Osteopathy in dogs
Legg-Calvé-Perthes syndrome in dogs
Luxating patella in dogs
Masticatory muscle myositis in dogs
Masticatory Muscle Myositis (MMM) and Extraocular Myositis (EOM) in dogs
Osteoarthritis in dogs
Osteochondritis Dissecans in dogs
Panosteitis in dogs
Spondylosis in dogs