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What is going on? Could it be tooth pain? Or something worse?
Your poor pooch may be suffering from an oral tumor.
Vetinfo.com reports, “Oral tumors are growths or lumps that develop in the pet’s mouth and oral cavity. Although all tumors are tested for cancer, every tumor isn’t malignant. Oral cancer is not as common as other forms or types of cancers seen in dogs.”
“Oral tumors can be found in the dog’s lips, tongue, gums and lymph regions surrounding the mouth. The disease is treatable and has a high success rate when the tumor is discovered and treated early,” adds PetMD.com.
Senior male dogs are the most prone to developing an oral tumor.
What Causes Oral Tumor in Dogs?
According to petMD.com, “While the exact cause of an oral tumor is unknown, there are several potential risk factors, including secondhand smoke, and tooth and gum (periodontal) disease. In some cases, dogs that wear flea collars showed a higher incidence of oral mass development.”
What are the Symptoms of Oral Tumor?
According to petMD.com, there are several signs of oral tumors, including:
“While these are the most common signs, it is possible the dog displays no symptoms at all,” petMd.com warns.
How are Oral Tumors Diagnosed?
First you will need to provide your vet with a thorough history of your dog’s health leading up to the onset of symptoms.
Vetinfo.com states, “The vet will perform a fine needle aspirate test to obtain a few samples of the tumors and send it for laboratory analysis. This helps determine the type and grade of cancer present. Biopsies performed after surgical removal of the tumor will also determine treatment options and the severity of treatment protocol.”
Your vet may also need to take a biopsy of the tumor to determine if it is cancerous.
“In addition to a biopsy of the mass, a biopsy is often performed on the surrounding lymph nodes to see if the disease has spread. X-rays may also be used to explore other parts of the body for symptoms. Non-cancerous oral growths have the greatest long term success once they are surgically removed,” petMD adds.
How are Oral Tumors Treated?
Due to the nature of the condition there is not much you can do initially.
“For most oral tumors (benign and malignant), surgical removal offers the best chance of cure. Surgery may need to be radical (removal of part or all of a jaw, including teeth and bone, for example). Though dogs tolerate radical surgery very well,” according to the American Veterinary Dental College (AVDC).
If your dog is in an advanced stage of cancer, your vet may combine surgery with radiation and chemotherapy.
PetMD.com recommends, “Following surgery it may be possible that a liquid diet or a tube will be used to administer nutrition, as the dog may not be able to effectively chew or swallow their food. It is important to monitor the animal long term to ensure that the cancer has not spread into other areas of the dog’s body.”
If your dog is one of the breeds that is predisposed to developing tumors, it is highly recommended that you check on her mouth more often. Unfortunately, since certain breeds are prone to developing this condition, there isn’t much you can do to prevent it from happening.
“The key is early detection of the growth. Owners that are in the habit of brushing their pet’s teeth every day are likely to note changes in the mouth earlier. For owners not brushing daily, a weekly oral inspection by the owner is recommended, in addition to regular examination by your veterinarian. When a swelling in the mouth is noted, seek the services of your veterinarian or a veterinary dentist without delay,” states AVDC.
Find A Vet HOW TO articles are intended for informational purposes only. You should always consult with your veterinarian about any health issues affecting your dog.
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