Epulis in Dogs

Epulis is a mouth tumor that is frequently found in canines. However, the tumor is benign and can be removed with surgery or radiation therapy. The epulis may turn into a malignant tumor and even if removed, it may grow back.

Types of Epulis

Epulis is a growth that is typically benign and can affect the mouth, especially the gum tissue. Epulis is the Latin term for gum boil.

The tumor may be of 3 types:

  • Fibromatous epulis, which is made up of fibrous tissue
  • Ossifying epulis, which is a growth that may contain bones and fibrous cells. The tumor can become cancerous
  • Acanthomatous epulis, which will affect the bone and the gum tissue and may cause severe damage, but will not turn into a cancerous tumor.

Causes of Epulis

The real causes of epulis are not identified, but may be genetic, as the occurrence of epulis is more prevalent in certain breeds such as Boxers.

Senior dogs are more prone to developing oral tumors.

Symptoms of Epulis

Epulis can be detected as a fibrous growth between the teeth and may also be affecting the gum tissue. The color of the tumor won’t stand out, as it will be pink, just like the dog’s gums. The growth has a smooth texture. The dog may have 1 or several tumors located in various areas of the mouth.

The dog may also have additional symptoms such as:

  • Excessive drooling, especially if the tumor is large
  • Lack of appetite or the dog will have a hard time chewing and swallowing
  • Difficulties breathing, if the tumor is located close to the throat
  • Bleeding
  • Bad breath
  • Loose teeth, as the growth may push them

These symptoms may be indicative of various dental problems or gum disease, or may indicate the presence of a different type of tumor, so tests will be needed to determine the dog’s condition.

Diagnosing a Mouth Tumor

A mouth tumor will have to be biopsied, as the vet needs to establish the nature of the cells that make up the growth.

The growth may be an epulis and in this case, the vet will see what type of epulis it is and whether it has chances of turning into a malignant tumor.

The biopsy may also reveal results that the growth is a fibroma, lipoma or a squamous cell carcinoma.

Treatment Options

Most frequently, the vet will decide to remove the epulis, regardless if it is benign or malignant. This is done through surgery and the vet will extract some gum tissue and possibly some neighboring bone as well, to ensure that all the cells are extracted and the tumor won’t grow back.

The surgery will prevent future complications. The tumor may grow and may affect the dog’s appetite, the teeth and the gums.

In some cases, the teeth that are located near the epulis will be removed.

Radiation is the treatment option for larger tumors.