Treating Dog Mouth Sores

Dog mouth sores vary widely. Some canine mouth sores signal skin disease, others signal internal disease. Underlying conditions of mouth sores may range from harmless to fatal. Because a variety of conditions may cause mouth sores, you should take your dog to the vet promptly if you observe any signs of mouth ulcerations.

Signs of Canine Mouth Sores

A healthy canine mouth is pink and smooth. Canine mouth sores may make your dog’s lips, mouth or face so uncomfortable and tender, that you observe one or more of the following signs:

  • Bumps on the face, lips or gums
  • Hard, purple lumps
  • Swollen tongue, lips, jaws
  • Red, swollen, bleeding gums
  • Blue, pale tongue or gums
  • Tongue ulcers
  • Mouth or nose discharge
  • Crusted, bleeding nose
  • Excessive drooling
  • Excessive panting
  • Frequent gagging
  • Pawing at the face and jaw
  • Trouble opening or closing the mouth
  • Trouble chewing or swallowing
  • Bad breath
  • Foaming at the mouth
  • Grinding of teeth
  • Foaming at the mouth
  • Grinding of teeth
  • Loss of appetite

Underlying Conditions Causing Canine Mouth Sores

Underlying conditions of mouth sores may be temporary or life-threatening. Here are some of the conditions that may be diagnosed if your dog has ulcerations of the face, lips or mouth:

  • Unsightly mouth bumps, which are caused by viruses, resemble warts and go often away on their own
  • Hyperplastic gingiva, which are large lumps that grow on the gums and may need to be removed
  • Dental infection or disease, which cause ulcerations anywhere in the mouth
  • Epuli, which are purple knobs that enclose a tooth and may grow large enough to hinder chewing and need to be removed promptly
  • Herpes virus, which causes open sores
  • Canine papilloma virus, which causes painful warts
  • Deep abscesses, which are painful bacterial or fungal infections that occur anywhere in the mouth, causing your dog to paw at the face and have chronically bad breath. A mouth abscess is more serious, even dangerous, once it spreads to the bloodstream.
  • Papules, or red, itchy bumps, which may signal pyoderma, a bacterial infection; ring worm; mange or food allergy
  • Liver disease, which causes mouth ulcers
  • Pancreatic tumor, which causes mouth ulcers
  • Melanoma, which appears as pigmented or non-pigmented masses in the mouth and indicates a possible malignancy
  • Pemphigus, which is an autoimmune disease and causes mild to severe symptoms, from mouth and groin sores, to large mouth sores that burst and crust over

Diagnosis of Conditions Causing Mouth Sores

During the exam, your dog's vet will take a medical history, asking about the onset and progression of symptoms, travel history, past and current treatments and medications. Diagnostic tests may include examining any discharge in the lab and taking biopsies of mouth tissues. The vet will then tailor treatments to the particular condition causing mouth sores in your dog.

Home Treatments that Ease Discomfort of Canine Mouth Sores

Give your dog soft food that is not too hot. And, give your dog crushed ice to relieve the pain. Your vet may recommend other remedies that can make your dog feel more comfortable during the healing process.