Causes of Lumps, Bumps, and Masses in a Dog's Mouth
Humans are not the only ones to get lumps and bumps on their bodies. Canines also frequently develop odd looking masses and growths.
According to the Pet Cancer Center, oral cancer is the fourth most common cancer overall in dogs. A mass in the mouth can be caused by several conditions, but since there is always a chance that it is cancer, as in humans, any suspected lump or bump should be biopsied to rule out this possibility.
The problem is that owners don't always discover the growths. Sometimes, the growth is hiding under the tongue and can only be seen when the dog keeps the tongue to the side.
Sometimes the lump is in the back of the mouth or on the roof of the mouth. Often, one big cause of alarm is a bump on the roof of the mouth right behind the top front teeth. This often turns out to be an incisive papilla, but at times there can be other growths in these areas, too.
It is always recommended for dog owners to inspect their dog's mouth on a frequent basis. The best way to do this is by routinely brushing their teeth.
The following are some of the most common causes of lumps, bumps, or growths in a dog's mouth.
Causes of Benign Growths
As scary as growths can be, luckily many are benign. Regardless, all growths should be carefully evaluated by a vet to see whether or not they are harmless or need to be removed.
Here are some common causes of benign growths:
This is the most common type of benign growth found in dogs' mouths. It is also simply known as a gum boil. There are three types of epulis: fibromatous, ossifying, and acanthomatous.
Appearance and Location: This growth is the same color of the gums and fairly smooth. It is typically found between the incisors or canine teeth. Sometimes it may present a stalk-like growth.
Who Gets Them: These lumps are generally found in older dogs over the age of six. The Boxer breed and other brachycephalic or short-nosed breeds may be predisposed to it.
Side Effects: As this mass enlarges, it may start causing trouble such as drooling, bleeding, difficulty eating, and bad breath. At times, the growth may cause the teeth to shift and grow misaligned.
Treatment: A vet will biopsy the growth to rule out cancer and will remove the growth surgically. Prognosis is pretty good for small epulis.
Canine Viral Papillomas
Appearance: These are small growths characterized by a jagged surface, resembling a cauliflower or sea anemone in shape. At times, however, they can be smooth.
Location: They are typically found on the lips and muzzles of dogs under the age of two. These papillomas are contagious between dogs and are transmitted with direct contact.
Treatment: Generally, they go away on their own within five months. While rare, some of these growths do turn malignant, according to Mar Vista Animal Medical Center.
Types of Malignant Mouth Tumors
These are the three most common malignant oral cancers found in dogs. Of dogs with cancer, melanoma affects 30% to 40% dogs, squamous cell carcinoma affects between 17% to 25%, and fibrosarcoma affects 8% to 25% according to Virginia J. Coyle, DVM, and Laura D. Garrett, DVM, DACVIM (oncology).
This is the most common oral malignancy in dogs. Oral malignant melanoma tends to develop when there is an abnormal cell division of melanocytes.
Location and Side Effects: It typically appears on the gums, the lip, the palate, and sometimes on the tongue of older pets and can cause symptoms such as trouble eating (preferring soft foods), oral bleeding, facial swelling and bad breath.
Who Gets Them: Commonly affected breeds are those with pigmented mouth tissues such as the Chow Chow, however other predisposed breeds are poodles, dachshunds, Scottish terriers and golden retrievers.
These tumors are known for spreading quickly and aggressively to other parts of the body, the preferred site being the lungs and regional lymph nodes.
Squamous Cell Carcinoma
This form of cancer is more common in cats; however, dogs occasionally get it, as well.
Side Effects: Affected dogs will drool, develop difficulty eating, and have bad breath.
Location: This cancer has a prevalence for developing in the gingiva and is locally aggressive, but may spread late in the disease. If the mass is found in the front part of the mouth, there is a good chance that surgery can cure it, according to Vet Surgery Central Inc.
These are malignant tumors that are locally invasive but may spread to other parts of the body, a process known as ''metastasis."
Location and Appearance: These tumors originate from the fibrous tissue of the mouth and may appear as a red growth or ulcer. These tumors have a tendency to ulcerate and bleed but do not generally spread as quickly as other tumors.
Less Common Causes
Some less common but also malignant oral tumors found in dogs include osteosarcoma, mast cell tumor, hemangiosarcoma, lymphoma, plasma cell tumor, and multilobular tumor of bone.
Always Get a Vet's Opinion
These are just a few examples of the most common oral growths found in a dog's mouth. Should your dog develop a lump, bump, mass, or growth in their mouth, no matter how small it is, it is best to have a vet take a look at it to rule out the possibility of cancer.
This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. It is not meant to substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, or formal and individualized advice from a veterinary medical professional. Animals exhibiting signs and symptoms of distress should be seen by a veterinarian immediately.