Mouth Cancer in Dogs Prognosis

Mouth cancer is a relatively prevalent type of canine cancer. It usually strikes geriatric animals. Tumors in the mouth can cause problems eating, swallowing, and breathing, and cancerous tumors can spread quickly. Read on to learn more about canine mouth cancer.

Causes and Risk Factors for Canine Mouth Cancer

Mouth cancer is the fourth most prevalent type of cancer in dogs. Breeds with darkly pigmented gums and tongues, such as the Chow Chow, may be more vulnerable to this type of cancer. Older dogs succumb to mouth cancer most often.

Vets suspect that canine mouth cancer may be the result of exposure to carcinogens in the environment. Pollution of the air or soil can contribute to canine mouth cancer, as can carcinogenic preservatives and additives used in dog food.

Symptoms of Mouth Cancer in Dogs

Mouth cancer usually causes tumors, lumps or growths to appear in the mouth, and, depending upon their position, you may even be able to see them. Mouth tumors can get in the way when your dog tries to chew or swallow, and they can make it hard for him to breath, especially if they are in the back of the throat. Tumors in the back of the throat can also cause snoring.

Additional symptoms of canine mouth cancer include:

  • Bleeding from the gums or mouth
  • Sores, ulcers or lesions inside the mouth
  • Pain in the mouth
  • Swelling of the gums

Diagnosing Mouth Cancer in Dogs

Not all mouth tumors in canines are cancerous. Your vet will need to take a biopsy tissue sample of the mouth tumor to determine whether or not it is cancerous. Even benign tumors often need to be removed, however; these tumors don't typically spread like cancerous ones do, but they can still cause your dog discomfort and make it hard for him to eat and breathe.

Cancerous mouth tumors usually spread fast. The earlier your dog receives a diagnosis, the better his chances of recovery. Vets typically choose to remove tumors surgically when possible, either with a scalpel or by freezing them off via cryosurgery. Your vet may need to remove a lot of healthy surrounding tissue; this helps keep the tumor from coming back.

Once your dog has had his tumors surgically removed, radiation therapy can help stop the cancer from coming back. If your dog's cancer has already spread to other parts of his body, radiation therapy can slow or stop the growth of those tumors to help relieve your dog's symptoms and extend his life. Herbal, vitamin and mineral supplements can help support your dog's physical symptoms as well.

Though it can be difficult to prevent mouth cancer, you can improve your dog's prognosis by catching it before it spreads. Check your dog's mouth, gums and palate regularly for lumps, bumps, and abnormalities. Have any growths or swellings in the mouth evaluated by a vet right away. Most growths in the mouth are not cancer, but only your vet can tell you for sure.