Questions About Possible Mouth Tumors


Mouth tumors can show up on a dog's tongue, gums and other areas. Sometimes these growths are benign, and other times they are malignant. Share a few dog owners' questions and concerns that their pets might have cancer.

Could My Dog Have a Mouth Tumor?

I took my three-year-old Lab to the vet today because his upper front gum is very swollen and beginning to hang out. I wasn't prepared for what she told me. The growth may be a tumor. What should I do? The vet said she can do a biopsy and go from there, depending on results. She said the closest place to be treated would be UT in Tennessee, but they do not accept payments. Is there a place you know of that does?

~~ Tammy

Expert Reply

Hi Tammy,

I'm so sorry to hear about the situation you and your dog are in. Mouth tumors are more common than many people realize. It's very important for all owners to inspect their dog's mouth once a month to look for any abnormal growth in the tissues. The earlier a mass is detected, the easier it is to treat. There are several types of tumors, and some are less aggressive than others. There's a chance that this could just be a benign growth that your vet might be able to reduce herself, so try to keep a positive outlook.

For now, I would allow her to do the biopsy and figure out exactly what you're dealing with. I would also check into the possibility of acquiring some health insurance for your dog to help you recoup some of the treatment costs if the diagnosis is malignant. You can add a cancer rider to most policies.

I've done some searching on this, and other than UT, there doesn't appear to be any other canine cancer specialist in the Tennessee area. Did you ask UT for any other leads? If you're able to make payments for treatment, then you might also consider taking out a small loan to cover the cost, if necessary.

I'm sorry I don't have a definite solution for you. Unfortunately, the cost of veterinary care often leaves people searching for alternative ways to give their pets the help they need. I will keep you in my thoughts and let you know if I come across anything that could help.

My best wishes for a benign diagnosis~~ Kelly

Dog Has Growths on Tongue

My ten-year-old Chihuahua has had foul breath for a few months. When examining her teeth to see if one was possibly loose, I noticed grape-sized clusters on both sides of her tongue towards the back of her mouth. They are the same color as her tongue, and they almost appear like an overgrowth of tongue tissue. Do you think that this is something I need to be worried about, or do dogs sometimes exhibit growths like this on their tongues? I did not find any loose teeth so I am thinking that these "clusters" could possibly be the reason she has such foul smelling breath. What are your thoughts?

I also need to mention the fact that she has a very weak heart, and I am concerned she may not be strong enough for a necessary surgery. Help me out as much as you can with this, we love our Chiquita dearly.

~~ Mid

Expert Reply

Hi Mid,

I'm not an actual vet, so I honestly can't diagnose what those growths on Chiquita's tongue are, but I seriously think your vet should take a look at them. They could be something as simple as infected glands or tonsils that could be treated with antibiotics.

The odor could be caused by this condition, or it could stem from a gum infection. You would only see teeth loosening if the infection was sufficiently advanced.

I don't want to alarm you, but they could also be related to mouth cancer. There's a chance they could just be benign growths, but since they are situated further back on the tongue, they could begin to block the airway if they continue to grow.

Your Chihuahua's heart condition does present complications, and your vet will take that into consideration as he/she determines a course of treatment.

My best wishes for your dog's health. Keep us posted.

~~ Kelly

My Dog Has Mouth Cancer

My three-year-old American Eskimo had a growth removed from his gum line in August, and the results came back as cancer. The vet said that options for treatment included radiation and/or partial bone removal. He stated that it is expensive and it does not buy much time. In my search for information, I found that this cancer is usually found in older dogs, dark gummed dogs and large breeds. My dog does not fall into any of the categories, but he has it anyway. Yesterday, I read an article stating that the microchip that was implanted in him before I got him could be a culprit.

Anyway, according to the information I have obtained, I probably have four to five months of loving to do. What I want to know is what symptoms can I expect? Right now, he seems perfectly fine. When will I know it is time to let him go?

Thanks~~ Nancy

Expert Reply

Hello Nancy,

I can't tell you how sorry I am to hear about your dog's illness. No one can truly understand what you're going through unless they've been through it themselves. We had to let go of a family companion with cancer nearly seventeen years ago, so I can relate.

Mouth cancer in dogs appears to be on the rise. Some people think the problem might be related to chemicals used as preservatives in many commercial dog food brands. I also read the latest news linking microchips to cancer in dogs. It seems like our dogs are potentially at risk from many sources.

The time you have left with your dog really depends on how aggressive the tumor is. Knowing what lies ahead will hopefully give you a better indication when and if euthanization might be kinder than allowing the disease to come to its natural conclusion. Here are some of the symptoms dogs with mouth cancer tend to experience as the disease progresses.

  • The tumor will grow in size, and may eventually obstruct a dog's normal ability to eat. Weight loss will follow, and dehydration may become a problem.
  • Depending on the tumor's placement and the direction it grows, it may begin to obstruct a dog's airways.
  • The tumor may also blastocize, shedding cancerous cells that could take root and grow in other areas of a dog's body.
  • In time, an affected dog will begin to lose his vigor and slow down. He'll be less interested in play, and eventually become less interested in interacting with people.
  • The tumor may also become painful.

These are some of the basic things that any dog with an inoperable mouth tumor may face. It doesn't necessarily mean that your dog will experience the exact same symptoms.

I will keep you and your dog in my thoughts Nancy. Thank you for your question, although I know we both wish the circumstances were different.

~~ Kelly

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Questions About Possible Mouth Tumors