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Old June 7th, 2010, 04:21 AM
TokyoParrot TokyoParrot is offline
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Dental question-- hole in jawbone

Hi everyone,

I recently adopted a 2-kg Chihuahua from the local rescue group. He is perhaps 15 or 16 years old, very frail in general but has many good days and loves life.

He has horrific teeth-- only 4 left, all wobbly and painful looking, but he is in too poor health to be able to handle anesthesia, so we have not been able to remove them.

Question:
When he eats, he rubs his nose on the carpet (appears to be attempting to scratch an itch). He rubs frantically on the carpet after every bite, forehead to nose, over and over until it starts to become raw. He has also scratched up both corneas as a result of this urge to scratch the top part of his face after he eats. (We are using eye drops to heal the corneas and he also has an Elizabethan collar to limit the scratching behavior.) This has been going on for about 2 or 3 weeks.

The vet suggested that he is "trying to get out of his cage" (definitely not it-- he does it after eating, regardless of whether he is in his cage). I was thinking it was an allergy, but he hasn't shown any allergies thus far, and he does this after every meal, though again, just recently.

Last night, I noticed he has a large hole in his upper jawbone (on the side of the jawbone rather than the crest/"hilltop" where teeth would be on the ridge). I cannot see how deep it is-- cannot see any backside to the hole. Looks like it opens up to something hollow behind it. This is not a socket from a tooth that fell out.

I assume that that is the source of the pain/itchiness-- eats something, which then gets into the hole and into... what? Big void under the jawbone? Would this be painful? I thought teeth were painful because of exposed roots (i.e. nerves), but this is something else, perhaps? No teeth left in that part of the mouth at all.

I have an appointment at the vet tomorrow but wanted to see if anyone had any off-the-cuff guesses as to what *might* cause a hole to open up in the jaw. (More specifically, I need to go look things up in Japanese before I go to the vet, so I wanted to get a head start on thinking about what the cause of that might be. I'll Google in advance the vocabulary I need for the discussion. Once I spent 5 hours at the vet for the dog's gall bladder issues but I didn't know the word "gall bladder" in Japanese so it was a bit hard to follow the vet's explanation.)

I understand that no one can give medical advice, but I was thinking that if anyone had experienced this before, it would give me a head start on the issue.

Last edited by TokyoParrot; June 7th, 2010 at 06:44 AM. Reason: too wordy... pinpointed the issue better
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Old June 7th, 2010, 11:01 PM
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hazelrunpack hazelrunpack is offline
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Ouch! That sounds painful! I've got no advice, but I did want to send some along for the vet visit! I hope he can make your dog more comfortable!
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Old June 8th, 2010, 07:16 AM
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MyBirdIsEvil MyBirdIsEvil is offline
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I'm not sure about the scratching. It's really only during eating? Maybe the act of chewing is irritating his face for some reason.

As far as the hole, I'm not sure what would cause that other than an infection in his mouth.
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Old June 9th, 2010, 07:21 PM
Timas mom Timas mom is offline
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I would think he is expressing the pain of the infection and dental disease he has by rubbing his face.
The hole could be an abcess or a lost tooth.
All pretty serious. He must be in a great deal of pain.

Try wetting his kibble or switching to canned food and add a bit of water to it.

Good luck at the vet!
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Old June 10th, 2010, 11:51 PM
TokyoParrot TokyoParrot is offline
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Thanks for the replies, everyone, and apologies for being slow to follow up on this. It looks like he has an "oronasal fistula", so whenever he eats, the food/liquid goes up into his nasal passages, causing the intense itching/pain.

It looks something like this:
http://www.mypetsdentist.com/site/vi...salFistula.pml

Over the last two days the problem has gotten much, much worse (hole has grown) and now this sweet dog growls and then bites me whenever I go anywhere near his mouth. I am unable to hand feed him now, and he won't eat on his own even though he cries all day that he is hungry. The situation is only correctable by surgery, but his gums/bones are too far gone to make that possible.

He is also unable to sleep from the pain-- used to sleep 20 hours a day, now sleeps barely at all.

I can't believe how quickly this happened. Quality of life is now bad enough that I am likely to ask that he be put down at our next vet appointment tomorrow night.

The worst part is that he doesn't look "ready to go". All my other elderly animals have made it known through their look or demeanor that they were ready to move on, but this one still has a lot of spunk left in him despite his overall frailty, so this is really eating at me. But he just lies on his bed, eyes wide open, obviously entirely mentally alert but staring at nothing, waiting for time to just pass, and doesn't want to be touched, so I know it's time.
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Old June 11th, 2010, 09:28 PM
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hazelrunpack hazelrunpack is offline
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I'm so sorry, TokyoParrot! I know how difficult a decision you're faced with!

Please let us know how it goes today at the vet.
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