Conditions that the animal is born with are known as congenital abnormalities or birth defects. Some times, these conditions are genetically inherited and can be common in certain breeds or bloodlines. Other times, these conditions are caused by chemicals or an injury to the mother during pregnancy. Sometimes the cause can be unknown. Some of the congenital conditions are common.
Anomalies Affecting Mouth And Lips Of Dogs
One of the common congenital conditions is a cleft palate or a cleft lip. A cleft lip is also known as a harelip. This is caused by a defect during the embryonic stage when the face and jaw would be formed. This defect leaves a gap, the cleft, in the middle of the lip or on the roof of the mouth which is also known as the hard palate, or on occasion, both. It is more common for this defect to be in the upper lip and is quite rare for it to be found on the lower lip. The condition can leave an opening through the palate and into the breathing passages. There is a wide range of severity in cleft lips and palates. It is more common in Beagles, Shetland Sheepdogs, Cocker Spaniels, German Shepherds, Dachshunds, schnauzers and Labrador Retrievers. Breeds with short heads, or brachycephallic breeds have a risk of up to 30% of suffering from cleft lip or cleft palate. In most cases it is a genetic condition but it has been suggested that viral infection during pregnancy, drug exposure, injury to the fetus, chemical exposure, and nutritional deficiency during pregnancy can also be causes in some cases. The condition is noticeable shortly after the birth as the puppy may have nursing difficulties. Milk may be visible dripping from the nostrils or the puppy may have problems in sucking and swallowing. A vet may be able to diagnose the problem after a visual examination of the mouth. Puppies with this condition will need intensive nursing care and may need to be tube fed or hand fed. The puppy may need an antibiotic course to treat any respiratory infections. Correcting the condition by surgery is only effective in minor cases. The surgery is performed when the puppy is between six and eight weeks old. A variety of techniques may be used during surgery and the success rate of this type of surgical procedure is improving. The owner should give the decision to perform surgery much careful consideration and the animal should be spayed or neutered. Doing this will prevent the condition from passing to another generation.
Brachygnathia is a condition in which the lower jaw is shorter that the upper jaw. The severity of this condition depends on the degree of abnormality in the jaw. It can be a minor problem, or it can be a serious problem. If it is of a minor severity then it may not cause any problems. However, if it is more severe then it can cause damage to the roof of the mouth, or it may restrict the normal jaw growth. It is possible to remove or shorten the lower the canine teeth on the lower jaw which can help prevent damage.
Prognathia is when the lower jaw is longer than the upper jaw. This occurs naturally in breeds that have shortened heads such as the Boxer, the Pug and the Bulldog breeds. It usually does not need correction treatment.
Ankyloglossia or microglossia is a condition in which the tongue develops abnormally or the development is incomplete. It is also known as bird tongue. Puppies with this condition may have nursing difficulties and as a result may not grow properly. An examination of the mouth will show missing or underdeveloped parts of the tongue. This is not usually a treatable condition and is most often fatal.
Tight-lip syndrome is a condition which id found in Chinese Shar-peis. The lower lip covers the lower front teeth, and can fold over the teeth toward the tongue. There can be contact between the upper teeth and the lower lip, which can make the lip position worse and can cause the lower teeth to move position. This condition can be treated through corrective surgery.
Anomalies Affecting Teeth Of Dogs
While it is rare for animals to develop less teeth than normal, the molars and premolars of a dog may not develop or erupt. It is more common to see extra teeth rather than too few. Extra teeth are most often in the upper jaw. On occasion, the bud of a single tooth may split and form two teeth, but this is rare. This can result in crowding of the teeth or even rotation. An animal with this condition will need tooth extraction to correct or prevent any abnormality in the bite as it can lead to further dental problems.
It is common for there to be a delay in the loss of the baby teeth, also known as deciduous teeth. If the baby teeth do not fall out, the permanent teeth behind them can not erupt as normal and this can cause alteration in the position of the permanent teeth. This can happen withing two to three weeks and can cause bite problems, or entrapment of food. If food becomes trapped in the teeth, it may lead to tooth and gum disease. Any baby teeth which do not fall out should be removed by a veterinarian as soon as possible.
Some breeds can be more prone to abnormalities in the placement of the teeth or the shape of the teeth. The effect of this is dependent on the severity of the abnormality. In the brachycephalic breeds, which are breeds with short heads, the third premolar in the upper jaw may rotate, and on occasion some other teeth may also rotate. This does not usually cause any problems but if abnormalities in the bite, or crowding of teeth occur then it may be necessary to extract some of the teeth.
Dogs can suffer from abnormalities in the development of the enamel on the tooth. The enamel is the hard, outer layer of the tooth. Abnormalities can be caused by the distemper virus, fever, trauma, malnutrition, poisons or other infections. The damage depends on the severity and how long the cause was untreated. The form of the damages can range from pitting on the mild end of the scale to incomplete development of the tooth with an absence of the enamel in sever cases. The affected tooth is prone to plaque, tartar build up and eventual tooth decay. It can be treated by covering the defect with a resin but it is important that the home care and dental hygiene of the dog is of a high standard. Sometimes there may be a discoloration of the enamel. This can occur if a pregnant female or puppies under six months are given tetracycline antibiotics. This can result in a brown yellow stain on the teeth.
Cysts can occur on the head and neck due a defects during fetal development. Cysts are lumps which need to be examined by a vet to ensure that they are actually cysts and not abscesses or a symptom of infection or disease. Cysts tend to occur in certain locations and will have a specific feel which can aid the vet in the diagnosis.