Craniomandibular osteopathy is a serious jaw bone disorder that occurs primarily in young dogs, most often in terriers. The most common breeds affected are West Highland White Terriers, Scottish Terriers and Cairn Terriers. However, Craniomandibular Osteopathy has also been recognized in other terrier breeds as well as in Boxers, Labs, Great Danes and Dobermans. It normally becomes evident in most affected dogs before 10 months, although it’s not uncommon for the disease’s symptoms to appear at later ages in some dogs.
Excessive bone development occurs along the jaw and spreads to the temporal region. Affected dogs have difficulty chewing and swallowing and may experience moderate to severe drooling. Most dogs experience great pain when opening their mouths, but some dogs don’t show hardly any pain. Moderate to high fever also frequently accompanies this disorder, and weight loss can occur resulting from the dog’s difficulty in eating. Atrophy, the shrinking of muscles over the dog’s head and jaw, can also occur.
Pain in most dogs afflicted with Craniomandibular Osteopathy can be reduced using aspirin or corticosteroids; however, treatment does not result in cure. In most instances, most dogs can be stabilized with these drug treatments and maintain their normal nutritional eating habits. Unfortunately, since Craniomandibular Osteopathy is a progressive disease, surgery aimed at reducing the bony mass and increasing the dog’s joint range of motion has not resulted in permanent improvement.