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Abnormal Passageway Between the Mouth and Nasal Cavity in Dogs

Oronasal Fistula in Dogs

An abnormal passageway linking two openings, hollow organs, or cavities defines a fistula. It emerges due to injury, infection, or disease. An oronasal fistula denotes a communicating, vertical passage between the mouth and nasal cavity. Dolichocephalic dog breeds, particularly Dachshunds, face a higher risk of encountering this condition.

Oronasal fistulas stem from dental issues within the upper jaw. Typically, the root of the fourth premolar on the upper jaw punctures the palate, serving as the most common site for this abnormality. Surgical intervention becomes necessary to rectify the condition and prevent food and water from traversing from the mouth into the nasal cavity. If left unaddressed, it can trigger nasal irritation, a runny nose, sinus inflammation, infection, and potentially pneumonia.

Both dogs and cats can be afflicted by these fistulas.

Symptoms and Types

Symptoms associated with an oronasal fistula comprise a persistent runny nose, occasionally accompanied by bleeding, and ongoing sneezing.

Causes

  • Trauma
  • Bite wounds
  • Oral cancer
  • Electrical shock
  • Periodontal disease
  • Traumatic tooth extraction
  • Mandibular canines (the fang-like teeth) positioned toward the tongue
  • Upper jaw overbites, which causes the canine teeth in the bottom jaw to pierce the hard palate (roof of the mouth)

Diagnosis

To determine the diagnosis, it is essential to provide a detailed account of your dog’s medical history, including the onset of symptoms and any potential incidents that may have led to the current condition. Your veterinarian will conduct a comprehensive physical examination, including an assessment using a periodontal probe to explore any suspected oronasal fistula.

A thorough evaluation will involve conducting a complete blood profile, which includes a chemical blood profile, a full blood count, a urinalysis, and an electrolyte panel. It is crucial to perform the blood work before administering anesthesia for the surgical correction of the fistula.

Treatment

The preferred treatment involves surgically extracting the tooth and closing the passageway. During closure, a skin flap will be placed both in the mouth and the nasal cavity.

Living and Management

Due to the consistent tension experienced by the flap used to repair an oronasal fistula during the dog’s breathing, these fistulas have a tendency to reopen. In instances where reopening occurs, additional surgeries employing advanced tissue flaps may be necessary.

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