- You can quote me
What you really need is an animal physiotherapist. Can you contact a veterinary university? They may be able to give you a referral. Also, police departments who use police dogs (K-9 units) will sometimes use them. If there's a police or military unit in your area that has working dogs, contact them and see if they know of an animal physiotherapist.
- You can quote me
Sardonic, your idea is not a poor one. Rufi's jaw muscles would probably benefit from support. But i think it has to be certain that the jaw is properly aligned before using it for support and therapy.
First of all you have to see if the jaw is stuck on a ridge. If you lightly massage the sides of the jaws with your fingers you should be able to move the jaw from side to side and up and down. If the jaw is stuck on a ridge, there is no movement. If both sides are rigid and there is no movement you will need an expert to manipulate the jaw into position. Once in position the Chin-Sling can help to keep there.
I would think a vet would be able to diagnose a dislocated jaw without sedating the pig.
If there is free movement on both sides of the jaw, chances are the problem is weak muscles. Does the mouth hang open when you look at the pig face on? That's another indication of weak jaw muscles.
If there is no movement at all on one side of the jaw, the jaw is stuck in a position that compromises chewing and will need manipulation from an expert to get it back in place. Often "dislocation" results from muscles being very weak on one side. The stronger muscles on the opposite side pull the jaw out of alignment, occasionally to the degree the jaw gets stuck on a ridge. Muscles usually get weak when the pig is favouring one side of the jaw while eating due to abscesses or anything else that causes pain.
The Chin-Sling will not hurt a misaligned jaw as long as there are no unhealed fractures present and it isn't rigid. If the Chin-Sling is too painful for the pig to wear, this indicates there is a problem that needs to be resolved, such as elongated roots, ulceration on the inside of the mouth, abscesses, molars that have not been planed down far enough... Any condition that will be more painful under applied pressure will be more painful with a Chin-Sling on and pigs make it very clear when they can't tolerate wearing a Chin-Sling. Normally they should forget they have it on within 5 minutes(special treats help them to forget). If after 5 minutes they are bucking or flop down and refuse to hold their head up, they can't tolerate it.
If the jaw is moveable on both sides, the Chin-Sling can hold it in position and the jaw muscles will redevelop through resistance (working against the pressure applied by the Chin-Sling).
It's tricky positioning the jaw with the Chin-Sling but it is doable by putting the Chin-Sling on without tightening it fully and gently maneuvering the jaw until the front incisors are aligned with the lower incisors fitting neatly behind the upper incisors. Once the incisors are aligned the Chin-Sling should be tightened until it is fitting very snugly. It will then hold the jaw in position and force the molars into contact. As the pig grinds the upper molars against the lower ones, the jaw muscles will start getting proper usage again and begin to rebuild.
Hand feeding while the pig is wearing the Chin-Sling is an excellent way to get those muscles working. When the Chin-Sling is off, massaging the sides of the jaw with the bristle end of an electric toothbrush(cover the bristles with plastic wrap) for a few minutes twice a day is very helpful muscle stimulation.
I recommend taking the Chin-Sling to the vet appointment so the vet knows what you are using. Vets seem to understand the concept of the Chin-Sling once they see one and are very adept at putting it on pigs whereas owners tend to be a little nervous when trying to put it on at the beginning.
There is mention of it at the top of the page, with a "See also". Hope this helps someone! (p.s. I thought it very interesting that the fractured mandible healed well after having the two incisors wired together (sounds like a great solution).