BDLD is an acronym for ‘big dog little dog’. BDLD cases often present to the emergency clinic. They are also the most common cause of broken faces and jaws that we see in dentistry and oral surgery practice. The most surprising incidence of these trauma cases are dogs in the same household that have lived together for some time. One day the little dog is eating or chewing a treat that the big dog wants and in a flash of teeth, the big dog bites at the little dog’s face and breaks it in one or more places. Occasionally, the small dog wants the treat the big dog has been given. The trauma occurs over food. Sometimes there is a new dog in the house, but the competition over food is still the instigating event.
The second most common BDLD trauma case, occurs when a little dog is being walked on a leash and a big dog off leash attacks it. In some cases, the little dog that has lived next door to the big dog for years, finds a hole under the fence and is met with the big dog’s teeth.
We also see big dog – cat trauma cases. These are not food competition scenarios. The cat is bitten in the face by a visiting dog of a family member or a foster dog new to the home.
These trauma cases can be prevented by understanding the instincts of dogs regarding competition for food and the instinct to chase cats. Small dogs should be fed in separate areas from large dogs so that there is no competition for space around a food bowl or over a treat. Large dogs visiting a home in which cats live should not be given access to the cats.
We have seen two BDLD cases in one day, and it is not uncommon to see at least one case weekly. Surgery is always needed to restore comfort and function to the victims. The big dogs are not “mean” or bad dogs, they are acting out of instinct. Preventing broken faces begins in the home and taking additional precautions when walking a small dog or visiting dog parks.