FELINE - POST-OP FRACTURED JAW
A fracture is a break in a bone. They vary in severity from a small hairline crack to a bone being shattered into several pieces. Sometimes the bone ends pierce through the skin or gums and increases the risk of contamination and infection.
The veterinarian can diagnose most fractures when they palpate (examines by touching) your pets jaw. Radiographs confirm the diagnosis and help identify the exact location of the fractures as well as identify minor cracks which can not be palpated.
Slight cracks in the bone can be treated with rest. This means that special soft foods and no toys or bones should be given to it during its recovery period. Other fractures require reduction (setting and re-alignment of the bone) and some cases may require surgical repair. Depending on the type of fracture present, your veterinarian may repair the fracture using internal bone plates, bone pins, surgical wire, bone screws and external devices that fit onto the outside of your pet's jaw. General anaesthesia is administered during surgery and it is often necessary for your pet to be under the influence of anaesthesia again when the surgical device is removed. The healing process is monitored by radiographs and show whether the ends of the bone have grown back together.
When your pet goes home you should monitor your pet’s food and water intake carefully. If you notice any changes in your pet’s appetite, water consumption or mental status, consult your veterinarian immediately.
If the surgical incision is visible, check it at least once a day for swelling, redness and discharge. If any of these occur or your pet chews, licks or scratches at the surgical site, give your veterinary clinic a call. Most animal with fractures will require restriction of activity for the first 4-6 weeks after the surgery to protect the healing tissues.
For cats this will either mean caged rest or containing them inside the house; for dogs this will mean controlled exercise and being on a leash until the healing is complete.
The type of food you feed to your pet is important and your veterinarian will inform you which foods to use. Chewing on anything hard is prohibited until the healing is complete.
Wires and pins will need to be removed and are likely to be done under another anaesthetic. Healing jaw fractures are often messy, saliva and food tends to dribble from the mouth onto the plastic Elizabethan collar (fitted to prevent your pet scratching at their jaw) or onto the front of their legs. It is very important to keep these areas clean by cleaning them with warm water several times a day. Discharges or bad smells from the mouth could indicate an infection and you should contact your veterinary clinic.
This advice does not substitute a proper consultation with a veterinarian and is intended only as a guide. We recommend you follow all advice as given by your veterinarian and contact them immediately with any concerns. You must follow medications as dispensed by your veterinary clinic and monitor your pet closely during their recovery period noting any changes and contacting your veterinary clinic as needed.