Oro-nasal and Oro-antral fistulae in Dogs

Oro-nasal and Oro-antral fistulae in Dogs

Health & Safety

When a dog develops an oro-nasal or an oro-antral fistulae, it can make life very uncomfortable for them which in short means their condition needs to be assessed by a vet sooner rather than later and they would be typically referred to a veterinary dentist so the problem can be surgically resolved. Both oro-nasal and oro-antral fistulae form in a dog's mouth for a variety of reasons and they often trigger a respiratory tract infection.

The Causes

All too often, a dog may develop either an oro-nasal or an oro-antral fistula as a result of some sort of complication after a tooth extraction which is typically either a maxillary canine or carnassial tooth. The complication arises when the opening where a tooth once was fails to close over and heal as it should. This allows microorganisms to enter which is when all the inflammation and damage starts. Other reasons why a dog might develop the condition could include the following problems:

  • Trauma to the mouth
  • A foreign body lodged in the mouth which includes splinters, twigs and other things dogs often pick up in their mouths

It's worth noting that a fistula might already have developed in a dog's mouth before a tooth has been extracted and if a gap forms between a dog's oral and nasal cavity, then this would need to be carefully closed to resolve the problem. Should the fistula form after a tooth is removed, a gap typically takes about 6 weeks to develop because it takes around this length of time for the tissues around an extracted tooth to heal.

Breeds Most at Risk

Studies have established that some breeds are more predisposed to suffering from Oro-nasal and oro-antral fistulae than others, although any dog can develop either condition during their lifetimes. The breed that's known to be more susceptible is as follows:

  • Dachshund

The Problems Associated with Fistulae

There are several ways in which a fistula can cause problems for a dog, not forgetting the pain and discomfort it causes them. Should the hole be large, food and water could easily get into a dog's nasal cavity and this presents a big problem because they could end up inhaling the contents. This can lead to all sorts of health issues which includes the following:

  • Chronic rhinitis
  • Aspiration pneumonia - in a worst-case scenario and life-threatening condition

Treatment Options

A vet might well refer a dog to a veterinary dentist so their condition can be expertly assessed before deciding on the best treatment option. Most of the time, the veterinary dentist would surgically correct the problem by using specific procedures that involve closing the gap between a dog's oral and nasal cavity. A dog would need to be hospitalised for the surgery to be carried out because they would need to be put under general anaesthetic. Once they have recovered from surgery, a dog would typically be allowed home, but would need to be given a course of antibiotics with an end goal being to prevent any infection from taking hold. It is essential that dogs be given the complete course of antibiotics for the treatment to be effective.


Once a dog's condition has been diagnosed and the gap successfully closed, most dogs recover quickly without any complications. However, it is important to keep a close eye on the condition of a dog's mouth, gums and teeth to make sure no infection has taken hold. If a dog developed chronic rhinitis as a result of having either an Oro-nasal or an oro-antral fistula, they would need to be treated for the condition with an end goal being to resolve the problem.



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