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Dr. Wally
Dr. Wally, Dog Veterinarian
Category: Dog Veterinary
Satisfied Customers: 673
Experience:  Emergency Veterinarian with 20 years of experience in the veterinary field.
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What would cause my dogs jaw to appear to lock open?

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What would cause my dogs jaw to appear to lock open?

There are diseases that effect the muscles of mastication, which are the muscles of the jaw and head that open and close the jaw. These condition are fairly breed specific.


Can you tell me, what breed or breeds are in your dog? How old? Is the dog able to eat? And is he painful?


With the answers to this, I can narrow down which problem may be specifically occurring.


Customer: replied 8 years ago.

Hes a rescue mix - and for what it's worth his dna came back corgi/italian greyhound with limited brittany spaniel/chow - who knows. I was told he was Chihuahua and the vet guesses beagle mix.


He's 2 1/2 yoa almost 3 - approx 27lbs and healthy


when he was a puppy it happened for a brief second or two - he yelped and it was over.


it happened today - he yelped, his mouth was stuck open his tongue was hanging and he was loudly crying in pain.


I tried to calm him and after maybe 1.5 minutes of him crying with his mouth stuck open, he closed it and then went on as if nothing happened.

It was scary.

Ah, that is more specific. He likely has a small malformation of his temperomandibular joint. This is the hinge of the jaw and can become locked temporarily.


When it happens infrequently and it can be unlocked by the dog, nothing is done. The joint is at risk of arthritis, so starting him on a joint supplement of your vet's choosing woulndn't be wrong.


For more information, you can look up TMJ in humans, it is well documented. Unfortunately, it is very rare in dogs.



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Customer: replied 8 years ago.

Thank you so much for your answers. He will see the vet tomorrow, but I will hopefully sleep better tonight.

Good luck!
Customer: replied 8 years ago.

Dr. Wally -

The 'episodes' continue. The last episode lasted 3 - 3 1/2 minutes.

Can TMJ be more clearly diagnosed with an Xray or CT scan? Is twice more since the March episode, considered infrequent? He has been seen by 2 vets and they aren't sure what to do. Any advise would be greatly appreciated. Thank You


I don't think there's much to be done. One eopisode every other month isn't so bad. I'm sure it upsets your dog at the time, but I doubt it is hurting anything.


If you want a specialist's opinion, I suggest you talk to an orthopedic surgeon. They may be adventurous enough to try to correct a bone spur or abnormality in the joint. It's worth a try. A CT or MRI might help identify where the abnormality is.

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