Oral Surgery in Dogs

By Lorraine Hiscox DVM FAVD Dip. AVDC; Jan Bellows, DVM, Dipl. AVDC, ABVP

Why does my dog need oral surgery?

There are many potential reasons why your dog might need oral surgery. For example, they may need oral surgery to remove growths, repair oral or dental defects, and repair a jaw fracture.

Some oral tumors have no known cause. If oral tumors are detected early, surgical removal may be an option and result in a cure. Depending on the tumor type, size, and location, referral to a veterinary oncologist (cancer specialist) may be recommended. For more information on oral tumors, see specific handouts.

Jaw fractures from trauma or disease also often require oral surgery to return the dog to a pain-free happy life.

Does the surgery need to be done by an oral surgeon?

Board-certified veterinary dentists (avdc.org) and veterinary surgeons (acvs.org) are trained in oral surgical procedures. Your veterinarian will let you know if the surgery that your dog needs, requires a referral to a board-certified dentist, surgeon, or oncologist.

Is oral surgery safe for my dog?

Anesthesia is necessary for oral surgery. This allows the surgeon to remove the tumor or repair the fractured jaw while your dog is immobilized and out of pain. Before anesthesia is delivered, laboratory tests are performed to determine the safest anesthetic protocol for your dog and the specific procedure. Your dog will be closely monitored during and after the procedure.


Will my dog be in pain?

Both local and general anesthesia will be used to minimize and control discomfort. The same narcotic medications used in people are used for dogs. Anti-inflammatory medication is also administered to decrease swelling and inflammation after surgery as long as your dog is a candidate to receive these medications.

How will my dog eat after surgery?

As a result of excellent pain relief medications, most dogs recover with minimal discomfort and return to their daily routines rapidly. Most dogs will eat the day of surgery or very soon thereafter. Feeding soft food is usually recommended until healing is complete. Recheck visits will be required to ensure healing is progressing as it should.

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