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208 Breeds, 422 Health Conditions  |  Find a Vet

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Swollen Jaw (Craniomandibular Osteopathy)




Condition Overview

This condition occurs predominantly in young West Highland Terriers, Scottish Terriers, and Carin Terriers, and has also been reported in Boston Terriers, Boxers, Labrador Retrievers, Great Danes, and Doberman Pinschers.


The disease begins in puppies 4 - 10 months of age. It is characterized by the deposition of excess bone along the underside of the lower jaw and on other parts of the jaw and skull. The swollen jaw is extremely painful. The hinge joints of the jaw may be involved, making it extremely difficult for the dog to open his mouth.

Fever, drooling, and loss of appetite are characteristic. When the mouth is forces open, the dog cries in pain.


The cause for this condition is unknown. A recessive mode of inheritance has been described.


Diagnosis is made by physical examination.


There is no effective treatment for the abnormal bone deposits. Tube feeding may be required during periods of appetite loss to support nutrition. pain is controlled with buffered aspirin or other NSAIDs. The disease usually stabilizes at 1 year of age. Partial or complete regression of the excess bone may then occur. Although complete recovery is uncommon, most dogs are able to eat and maintain their weight.


Dogs who have suffered from craniomandibular osteopathy should not be bred.


OFA and the GDC maintain craniomandibular osteopathy registries for terriers, in an attempt to track and diagnose the disease.

Show Sources & Contributors +


Dog Owners Home Veterinary Handbook

Publisher: Wiley Publishing, 2007

Website: http://www.wiley.com/WileyCDA/

Authors: Debra M. Eldredge, Liisa D. Carlson, Delbert G. Carlson, James M. Giffen MD

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