Updated November 28, 2020
If you discover a lump in your dog’s mouth, it can be a cause for concern. Oral masses have the potential to be serious, so it’s crucial to take action promptly. While it’s natural to panic, keep in mind that many of these lumps turn out to be benign. To ensure the best outcome for your furry friend, follow your vet’s advice and get the lump biopsied as soon as possible.
The Importance of Oral Lump Evaluation
You may be taken aback by your vet’s calm and watchful approach when you bring up the lump. However, it’s important to understand the reason behind their behavior. Oral cancer is unfortunately a common cause of death in dogs. Although your dog’s lump may be benign, it’s better to be safe than sorry. Mouth lumps can be extremely harmful, so act swiftly upon your vet’s recommendation.
Types of Oral Lumps
Let’s start with some good news. The most common type of oral lump in dogs is called an epulis. It is a benign overgrowth of the gums that typically doesn’t involve the bone. Epulis is frequently seen in older dogs, particularly those with severe periodontal disease. If you inspect the mouths of older Boxers, you’ll likely come across several epulides. While epulis is usually harmless, it can still cause problems such as tooth loss, chewing difficulties, or, in some cases, be misidentified as something more serious. Therefore, it’s crucial to have a biopsy done to accurately assess the lump.
Papilloma or Wart
Young dogs who socialize frequently may contract the papillomavirus, resulting in warts in the mouth and on the head. If you notice a solitary lump resembling a wart, it’s essential to have it biopsied to confirm the diagnosis. Here’s an example of a classic-looking papilloma.
More Severe Oral Masses
The next category of oral masses is the one we fear the most, particularly in older dogs. In the early stages, these lumps may appear innocuous, but they can rapidly invade the bone. Accurate identification is crucial in determining the appropriate course of action. Melanoma and osteosarcoma are typically incurable, whereas ameloblastoma, which can resemble them, has a more positive prognosis. Biopsies are essential in establishing the exact nature of these lumps.
Ted’s lump, for instance, turned out to be an ameloblastoma. While this type of tumor carries an excellent prognosis, it requires additional surgery for complete removal. Thanks to Ted’s owners acting promptly, the disfigurement should be minimal.
Surgery for Oral Tumors
When the prognosis is favorable, specialists may be recommended for surgery. Although removal often involves part of the jaw, dogs generally recover well from the procedure. The chances of successfully treating these tumors improve significantly with early intervention.
You may wonder if seeking prompt medical attention for a lump is necessary, particularly if the result turns out to be nothing to worry about. However, as Ted’s case demonstrates, early intervention can make all the difference. Waiting could have meant losing the opportunity for a cure.
If you have any additional insights or experiences with oral lumps in dogs, feel free to share them in the comments section below. Remember, though, that the information provided here is not a substitute for veterinary advice. If your pet is unwell, it’s always best to seek professional help.
Image credit: Andrew at Katten TrimSalon