Mouth Ulcers in Dogs

Mouth ulcers can indicate cancer, but there are also other less severe causes that can lead to the occurrence of mouth ulcers. Your dog’s mouth can say a few things about his health, so it’s important to check it regularly and get help when finding worrying growths or ulcers.

Causes of Mouth Ulcers

The presence of mouth ulcers doesn’t necessarily mean that your dog has mouth cancer. There are several other causes of mouth ulcer including:

  • A dental problem (i.e. infection of the root)
  • A fragment of food/ material that got embedded in the tissue and got infected
  • A poor diet lacking the essential nutrients for your pet
  • Autoimmune diseases
  • Bacterial or viral infections
  • Stress
  • Accidental biting of the interior of the cheek

The location of the mouth ulcers may help the diagnosis. For instance, if the ulcers are located in the tooth area, you can suspect dental problems.

Symptoms of Mouth Ulcers in Dogs

If you open your dog’s mouth you may observe the ulcers, which have a white or gray base, a red border and may bleed at times. The dog may also have additional symptoms such as:

  • Bad breath
  • Dental abscess
  • Swollen gums
  • Excessive drooling and the saliva may contain blood
  • Lack of appetite, which may be partly due to the fact that the dog has a difficult time swallowing
  • Mouth thrush
  • Inflammation of the lymph nodes located at the base of the neck

Diagnosing Mouth Ulcers in Dogs

The vet will take a look at the ulcers and examine the dog for additional symptoms. A set of blood tests may be performed. X-rays will be needed to detect tumors or other particles that may be embedded in the mouth tissue. A tissue biopsy is necessary if there are any tumors in the mouth. The test will establish if the cells forming the tumor are cancerous or benign.

Dog Mouth Ulcer Treatment Options

The treatment will depend on the findings of the vet during the diagnosis process. If the dog has mouth cancer, the preferable course of treatment would be surgery and the removal or the tumor. However, if the cancer is spread to other organs or the lymph nodes, surgery may not be recommended. Surgery is also necessary if there is an embedded fragment in the dog’s mouth tissue. If the dog has an infection, oral antibiotics should be effective. However, if the dog is diagnosed with an autoimmune condition, corticosteroids or other immune system suppressants will be necessary. The dog may be put on a liquid diet until the ulcers are treated, as kibble food may cause additional irritation and complicate the treatment.

It’s important to check your pet’s mouth for abnormalities. Check the mouth whenever you groom your dog or when brushing his teeth. An early detection of ulcers or growths can save your pet’s life. You should check the inside of the cheek and lip area, the tongue, the gums and the soft palate.