Leave it to a Frenchie to Make Medical History

Mary Simpson
by Mary Simpson

LiveScience reports French bulldog puppy spontaneously regrows jawbone after cancer surgery.

Photo Credit: Happy monkey / Shutterstock.com

It sounds like something straight out of a Terminator movie. You know, the part where the heavily damaged cyborg suddenly sits up and self-repairs the gaping holes blasted through its titanium alloy exoskeleton.

An odd analogy you think? Well, buckle up, because it’ll all make sense once you’ve learned more about three-month-old Tyson and his groundbreaking feat.

You see, in the case of Tyson, there are no cyborgs – just a seriously cute French bulldog puppy that required fairly routine oral surgery to restore a cleft palate.

Unfortunately, it didn’t take long before they realized a cleft palate was the least of young Tyson’s problems. The family vet found a rare squamous cell carcinoma growing along the entire left portion of the pup’s jaw bone.

Now, for anyone who has had to deal with cancer in pets, you know the fear as well as the relief when it was confirmed the cancer had not spread and, at that point, was treatable. Great news for the little dog however it would require major surgery and the removal of young Tyson’s left jawbone. Per owner Melissa Forsythe, “We didn’t know if we wanted to put a puppy through all this. The prognosis at the time was uncertain.” It’s always a tough call.

But this is where it becomes rather astonishing. After the surgery, Tyson’s parents brought him back in for his eight-week follow-up appointment. And the rest is history, as they say.

You see, Tyson’s jaw had begun to regrow. And this, according to Veterinarians at Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine's Dentistry and Oral Surgery Service, is the first time they’ve seen this happen in a dog (though there have been reported cases in young children).

And we’re not talking millimeters of growth. In the one year since Tyson’s surgery, the left jaw bone is now the same length as the right jaw bone – important because this will help prevent the mandible from drifting, preserving proper alignment in future. Now, the new, regrown jawbone doesn’t have teeth, but that doesn’t seem to have slowed this pup down when it comes to playtime, eating, and chewing his toys.

So, how did it happen? According to Alexandra Wright, lead author of a report published in the Fall 2023 journal Frontiers in Veterinary Science, the regrowth was likely down to preserving a thin membrane that covers the surface of bones called periosteum. It contains blood vessels, nerves and the cells necessary to help bones heal and grow. But she points out that early detection made it all possible, stating “If a larger part of the jaw had had to have been removed, it may not have grown back”.

One more reason why early detection through regular vet visits is so important. As for Tyson? He’s living his best life with his quest to be an over-achiever knowing no bounds. Recently graduated from obedience school, he’s passed his Canine Good Citizen test and marched in the 2023 Christmas parade alongside his dog-training buddies.

Mary Simpson
Mary Simpson

Sharing space with three seriously judgy Schnoodles and a feline who prefers to be left alone. #LivingMyBestLife

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