Jawbone Enlargement in Dogs: Causes, Diagnosis, and Treatment Understanding Jawbone Enlargement in Dogs

Jawbone Enlargement in Dogs: Causes, Diagnosis, and Treatment

Jaw bone enlargement in dogs is a problem that should not be ignored but rather, dealt with appropriately. This article will properly explain how you should address the issue.

Canine jaw bone enlargement is a condition called craniomandibular osteopathy. Craniomandibular osteopathy is a rare but significant condition that affects dogs. It is characterized by abnormal bone growth in the jaw, leading to discomfort, pain, and difficulty eating and chewing. In this article, we are going to address the underlying causes, common symptoms, and possible treatments for canine craniomandibular osteopathy.


It is unclear exactly what causes canine jawbone enlargement. However, some of the contributing factors that are believed to have played a role in the development of this illness include:

  • Genetic predisposition: Craniomandibular osteopathy is known to have a genetic component, with certain dog breeds being more susceptible. Craniomandibular osteopathy in Westies (West Highland white terriers), Scottish Terriers, Cairn Terriers, and Boston Terriers is more common than in some other dog breeds.

  • Abnormal bone metabolism: Due to faulty bone metabolism, excessive bone formation and insufficient bone resorption occur in affected dogs. This imbalance leads to the progressive thickening of the bones in the jaw.

  • Immune system involvement: It is believed that the excessive bone development seen in CMO results from an abnormal immune system reaction to normal bone growth.

  • Hormonal influences: Hormonal variables may also influence the development of CMO. Some studies have found associations between elevated levels of certain hormones, such as parathyroid hormone, and the onset of the condition.


Dogs with canine craniomandibular osteopathy have a range of symptoms that might differ in severity and time of onset. The most common craniomandibular osteopathy symptoms are:

  • Jaw pain and swelling: Dogs with CMO often experience pain and swelling in the jaw area. The swelling is typically most noticeable along the lower jaw, but it can also affect the skull bones. 

  • Difficulty eating and weight loss: Due to the pain and swelling in the jaw, a  craniomandibular osteopathy dog may have difficulty eating. They may show a decreased appetite, struggle to chew their food, or avoid hard food altogether. 

  • Excessive drooling: CMO can cause excessive salivation or drooling in dogs. This is typically brought on by the discomfort and suffering brought on by the ailment.

  • Changes in behavior: Dogs with CMO may exhibit behavioral changes as a result of the pain and discomfort they experience. When their jaw is stroked or manipulated, they may feel agitated, unwilling to play and communicate, or exhibit aggressive behavior.

  • Lethargy: Dogs with this jaw enlargement issue may appear lethargic or have reduced energy levels. A loss in interest in physical activity may result from the pain and inflammation brought on by the illness.

  • Altered facial appearance: Changes to the dog's facial appearance can occur as CMO advances because of the abnormal bone growth in the jaw and skull. A larger and thicker jaw bone and a wider muzzle are examples of this.

Treatment and Management Options

Craniomandibular osteopathy treatments in dogs aim to alleviate pain, reduce inflammation, and support the dog's overall well-being. The following options for management and treatment are frequently taken into account:

  • Pain management: Drugs for pain relief and inflammation reduction are frequently administered to treat CMO-related pain and inflammation. 

  • Nutritional support: Providing a balanced and easily chewable diet is crucial for dogs with CMO.

  • Dental care: Good dental hygiene is vital for canines with CMO to prevent additional oral health issues. The use of hygienic toothpaste and herbal remedies for your dog is necessary.

  • Symptomatic relief: Additional measures may be taken to manage specific symptoms associated with CMO. These can include the use of cold compresses or heat therapy to reduce swelling and providing soft bedding to support the dog's comfort.

  • Regular monitoring: Dogs with CMO require ongoing monitoring and follow-up veterinary visits to assess the progression of the condition and make necessary adjustments to the treatment plan.

Prevention Tips

Since craniomandibular osteopathy (CMO) is believed to have a genetic component, prevention strategies primarily focus on responsible breeding practices and early detection. Here are some prevention tips to consider:

  • Responsible breeding: It is important to select responsible breeders who put the health and welfare of their dogs first.

  • Genetic screening: If you are planning to breed your dog or are considering getting a puppy from a specific breed, inquire about the breeder's genetic screening practices. Ask if the breeding dogs have been tested for CMO and other genetic conditions relevant to the breed. 

  • Veterinary examinations: For the early detection of any potential health issues in your dog, including CMO, routine veterinary examinations are crucial.

  • Education and awareness: As a dog owner, it's critical to become aware of the specific health issues and problems associated with your dog's breed. This information will enable you to identify potential CMO signs and, if necessary, seek immediate veterinary care.

  • Communication with breed clubs and organizations: If you are active in breed groups or organizations, offer information on health issues, including CMO, in discussions.

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