We often focus on some of the TMJ causes that are specific to people, such as malocclusion related to a shrinking jaw, car accidents, and stress, that we don’t think about how universal temporomandibular joint problems are likely to be. But the truth is that TMJ can afflict any of our companion animals, and you may have to talk about it with your veterinarian if you want to get the best treatment for your animal friends.
Information on TMJ in Horses Is Readily Available
TMJ in horses has gotten a fair amount of attention. Horses are large animals, and these days when people own them, the horses are engaged in ways that readily highlight TMJ. When you ride an animal and expect it to ride fast and jump high, the factors that contribute to balance problems and discomfort come to the fore quickly. These activities may also put horses at a higher risk of TMJ because of the way they concuss the jaw, just like when a person is exercising hard and putting stress on their jaw joints.
Riding gear such as a bit and bridle can also contribute to TMJ because of the way they stress the jaw joint.
TMJ can be painful for horses as well as people, and it can make it harder for horses to eat.
TMJ symptoms to watch out for in horses include:
- Quidding (dropping partially chewed but undigested feed from the mouth)
- Head shyness
- Fighting the bit
If you notice these symptoms, you should consider talking to your vet about TMJ in your horse.
TMJ Is Less Common in Dogs and Cats
TMJ in other pets may be less common. Some pets, like snakes and other reptiles (including crocodilians), have a completely different jaw joint with different function, so they are not as likely to experience TMJ.
But dogs and cats can experience TMJ. Normally this is as a result of trauma, but some dog breeds might be more predisposed toward the condition. Basset hounds have been said to be more likely to experience TMJ, and we might expect it from any short-snouted breed like bulldogs. The same might be true for cat breeds that have a flat face. Other times dogs might develop TMJ if they have a tendency to fetch and carry large objects or engage in play wrestling while holding objects in the mouth.
Symptoms of TMJ in dogs and cats include:
- Difficulty opening or closing their mouth
- Pain when chewing
- Loss of appetite
- Whining while trying to eat
You may also be able to feel the displacement of the dog’s jaw.
With dogs and cats, you might try switching to a soft diet temporarily to allow the problem to resolve on its own. If it doesn’t resolve in a week or so, talk to your vet.
Don’t Neglect Your TMJ
Now that you’ve seen the problems your animals might be experiencing with TMJ, hopefully you’ve become convinced that this condition deserves serious attention. To talk to a Columbia, SC TMJ dentist about your condition, please call (803) 781-9090 for an appointment at Smile Columbia Dentistry.