A condition which causes the jaw to swell up larger than its usual size. The swelling of the jaw can have various causes. Most often it is caused by severe dental problems. Other causes can be bee stings, infections, allergies, bites by other animals, or a trauma. In some cases it can be a sign of a cancer. A swelling of the jaw can progress to the throat, which can be life-threatening. Always consult a veterinarian or a pet dental specialist.
How to Recognize
Swelling in a pet’s jaw can result from a number of causes. Bilateral swelling, or swelling that occurs on both sides of the jaw, may be the result of an allergic reaction. Such swelling should be addressed promptly to a veterinarian to avert the swelling from potentially spreading to the pet’s airway. You will be able to observe bilateral swelling in your pet’s jaw simply by standing face to face with your dog or cat, preferably at eye level. The mandible of your pet will appear puffed from one side to the other. Drooling may or may not accompany the swelling. Your dog or cat may pull away in pain if you touch the swollen jaw. Your pet may appear to have an appetite, but the discomfort may cause a reluctance to eat.
Abscesses from dental disease or from bites and puncture wounds on the face can cause swelling of the jaw in pets. These swellings usually begin at the source of the abscesses tooth or the wound, which is located on one side or the other. A tumor in the jaw also typically presents with unilateral swelling, but as a cancerous growth spreads, both sides of the jaw may be affected. A common cause of unilateral swelling in pets is an allergic reaction, which can be brought on by insect bites and stings, medications, ingestion of certain plants or chemical substances and, rarely, vaccines.
A veterinarian will conduct a physical examination of your pet’s jaw, and he will look for additional signs of allergic reaction. He or she will pose questions regarding your pet’s recent activities. If a mass is suspected, radiographs of your pet’s jaw may be taken. Blood samples may be collected to evaluate your pet’s blood cell count and determine the presence of an infection.
If your pet has recently begun taking a new medication or if the dog or cat has just come indoors from a romp in the backyard, observed sudden bilateral swelling of the jaw likely indicates an allergic reaction. Additional signs of an allergic reaction include facial swelling to the point of your pet’s eyes appearing partially closed or hives on the body. In the case of a severe allergic reaction, the swelling can spread to your pet’s airway, causing a respiratory obstruction. This is a life-threatening situation that demands immediate veterinary attention at the nearest available facility.
Another possible condition that can present with bilateral swelling of the jaw is called craniomandibular osteopathy. This condition affects puppies as they grow, and drooling often accompanies the swelling. Craniomandibular osteopathy is painful, and an affected puppy may show reluctance to eat.
In the case of an allergic reaction, the veterinarian can put a stop to the reaction with an injection of antihistamine. A corticosteroid injection may be necessary in some situations. If your puppy is experiencing craniomandibular osteopathy, pain control is the only treatment option available until the dog outgrows the condition. If a mass in the jaw is suspected, your veterinarian will discuss viable options that may include surgery, chemotherapy or radiation, depending on the type of mass that is found and, if malignant, on the stage of its progression.
Bilateral Swelling of the Jaw Affects