Help for Dog Pain When Opening Jaw

by Debbie Oliver
(Fort Worth, Texas)

A Dog Dental Problem Such as an Oral Tumor Like This One Is One of Many Potential Causes of a Jaw Problem and Pain

A Dog Dental Problem Such as an Oral Tumor Like This One Is One of Many Potential Causes of a Jaw Problem and Pain

I have a Female 13 yr. old Jack Russell. She has had severe pain in opening her jaw for 3 months now. I have been to different clinics. She had some teeth removed and a cleaning back in July.

Since then she cannot open her mouth to yawn or chew food. The vet said she had ulcers on both sides of her jaw inside. She has been on Clindamycin 25mg; Clindamycin 75mg: currently on Prednisone 5mg and a oral rinse Virbac C.E.T. AquaDent put in her water daily.

She Yelps out in Pain DAILY. We had blood work was done and all her organs are functioning properly. No heartworm problems noted; Great health. She is 17.5 lbs. now she was a little over weight.

She has always been active and now she follows me around and just drops down behind me where ever I walk. No one has been able to help me with what the next treatment should be. They just charge me their fee and send us on our way with no suggestions for her future.

I suggested putting her under for us to take a look inside her mouth to see what may be causing that putrid smell. I am very disappointed with not knowing how to help her. Also she is an inside dog. We do not leave her outside because the west nile virus has been active in Fort Worth Texas recently.

Do you have any suggestions or advice? This is a very tearful Request.

Pet owner Debbie O.

Vet Suggestion

Hello Debbie,

I’m sorry to hear about what you and your dog have been going through. I want to confirm that your dog has pain opening her mouth, oral ulcers, and a foul smell coming from her mouth, right? I ask because there is a condition called masticatory muscle myositis that causes pain/difficulty opening the mouth, but it is not associated with lesions within or smells from the oral cavity. It sounds like we can rule that disease out.

If that is the case, there are several conditions that cause symptoms like those you describe. Severe dental disease can do it. You mentioned your dog had a dental cleaning and some teeth removed six or seven months ago. It is possible that more teeth have “gone bad” in that period of time.

Another possibility is an abnormal immune reaction. Some dogs develop severe oral inflammation that can only be effectively treated by extracting most if not all of their teeth and/or immunosuppressive drugs. Cancer of the oral cavity might also be to blame.

Have you had your dog examined by a veterinary dentist? Making an appointment with one of these specialists might be the quickest, and in the end least expensive, way of addressing your dog’s symptoms. The American Veterinary Dental College has a searchable directory on their website.

Good luck,

Jennifer Coates, DVM

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