Craniomandibular osteopathy or CMO is a bone disease that may be acquired by dogs. The dog’s mouth is made up of two bones, mandible and maxilla, which meet at a joint called temporomandibular joint or TMJ. This joint enables the opening and closing of jaw. With the presence of CMO, the mandible, tympanic bullae and the temporal region are affected, thereby creating bilateral lesions that result to irregularities and enlargements of the said bones.
When an extra bone is formed along the mandible and TMJ, a dog may find it hard and painful to open and close its mouth thereby affecting its eating. Symptoms of CMO are seen in the early months of the life of young puppies and are more common on some breeds than others. Labrador Retrievers are among those breeds with lesser incidence but with higher diagnosis.
Causes of Craniomandibular Osteopathy in Labradors
CMO is an inherited disease and is common in some breeds including Labrador Retrievers.
Symptoms of Craniomandibular Osteopathy in Labradors
How do you know if your Labrador has CMO? Signs of CMO may manifest in dogs whose age is between 4 to 8 months. Your dog may experience swelling of jaws, pain and difficulty when opening the mouth, difficulty in eating or picking up food, difficulty in chewing and eating which lead to loss in appetite, excessive drooling, depression, fleeting fever with body temperature that fluctuate over time or bulging eyes that result from swelling in the skull. X-rays in dogs also suggest irregular thickenings of facial bones.
Diagnosis of Craniomandibular Osteopathy in Labradors
Before a diagnosis is made, you need to give a detailed history of the health of your Labrador, as well as the time of the onset of the symptoms. During the examination, the veterinarian may determine whether there is a decrease in muscles on the dog’s head and a thickening of the bones on the sides of the jaw. In opening the dog’s mouth, there may also be pain and there is a possibility that it may not open all the way.
Among the tests necessary to arrive at a diagnosis include a complete blood profile plus blood count and biochemistry level. These are important to determine abnormalities on the bones of the Labrador. Other tests such as bacterial and fungal tests will determine presence of infection. Furthermore, an x-ray of the dog’s head may also be taken to see if there had been abnormal growth of the bones. These are all the necessary tests needed to make a diagnosis. But sometimes, the veterinarian may also get a bone biopsy or a sample of the bone to see if the symptoms are not caused by a tumor or infection.
At present, there is no exact treatment or method that will alter the effect of the disease. However, the use of anti-inflammatory drugs to reduce pain caused by swelling, drugs for pain relievers and therapies to help your Labrador feel a bit more comfortable are suggested. Because there is not right method to slow the progression of the disease, pet owners just have to wait and see if the method is actually treating the dog or alleviating the pain. In other cases, surgeries are needed to make the dog feel more comfortable.
Your Labrador’s diet may also need to be altered. If the dog is having trouble eating the usual food, he may start to take soup instead or any other food in liquid form. The worst case is: if your dog cannot take the liquid diet, a feeding tube has to be placed into the stomach or esophagus.
Living with Labradors
It is important to always follow what your veterinarian recommends. He may require regular visits to make sure that your Labrador is getting enough treatment. If your dog is fed through a tube, it is also important to follow proper usage of the tube when feeding your dog. When proper treatment is given, the pain may decrease when it reaches 10 months to 1 year of age. In addition, your dog’s extra bone along the jaw may also start to decrease. The improvement of the condition of your dog will also depend largely on the size of extra bone formed on the jaw. However, your dog may still need special treatment methods for the rest of its life.