Cancerous and Noncancerous Mouth Growths in Dogs

Veterinary reviewed by: Michele K.

Cancerous and Noncancerous Mouth Growths in Dogs - Symptoms, Causes, Diagnosis, Treatment, Recovery, Management, Cost

Veterinary reviewed by: Michele K.

Cancerous and Noncancerous Mouth Growths in Dogs - Symptoms, Causes, Diagnosis, Treatment, Recovery, Management, Cost

What are Cancerous and Noncancerous Mouth Growths?

A growth in the mouth of your dog is defined as either malignant (cancerous) or benign (noncancerous). Diagnostic tests are the most accurate way to determine the origin of the growth, and to decide on the best plan of action. It is very important to bring your dog to the veterinarian for regular check-ups in order to assure quality and timely oral care.

Cancerous tumors, along with other types of swelling of oral tissues in the mouth are a somewhat common occurrence in dogs. Many oral growths in dogs, fortunately, have a high success rate of complete resolution if the growth is found early. Identification of the tumor is crucial. Benign lumps generally grow slowly and do not spread to other parts of the body. Malignant growths can spread quickly to lymph nodes and organs, thus proving the need for prompt removal upon diagnosis.

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Cancerous and Noncancerous Mouth Growths Average Cost

From 17 quotes ranging from $4,000 - $15,000

Average Cost

$10,000

Symptoms of Cancerous and Noncancerous Mouth Growths in Dogs

Not all dogs who have an oral mass will display obvious symptoms. You may discover it as you brush their teeth (this should be a part of your daily dog care routine). Your canine may show pronounced symptoms of a growth as follows:

  • Pawing or rubbing at their face (usually indicates pain)
  • Visible sores
  • Bleeding from the mouth
  • Tooth displacement
  • Chattering of teeth (can indicate pain)
  • Not wanting to chew (may mean pain)
  • Drooling
  • Redness in mouth
  • Swelling and ulceration in mouth
  • Halitosis (unpleasant odor in the mouth)
Types

There are many types of growths that can be found in the canine mouth.

Cancerous (Malignant)

A cancerous mass will often invade the underlying tissues of the mouth. The most common forms are:

  • Melanoma
  • Squamous cell carcinoma
  • Fibrosarcoma
  • Acanthomatous ameloblastoma

Noncancerous (Benign)

A noncancerous lump can occur due to instances of infection in oral tissue and are often tooth associated. These growths can be seen as:

  • Osteomas
  • Odontomas
  • Fibromas
  • Granulomas
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Causes of Cancerous and Noncancerous Mouth Growths in Dogs

The growths found in a dog’s mouth may be identical in outward appearance. However, the severity of the harm they can do will depend on the type of tumor. Further investigation is paramount in order to assure a return to full health for your dog. Causes for a growth may be:

  • Older, male dogs are diagnosed with oral cancer more so than younger canines, or their female counterparts
  • Dogs with dark pigmented mucosa are more often diagnosed with cancerous growths
  • Periodontal disease can lead to a noncancerous lump
  • A damaged salivary gland may prompt the development of a growth
  • The most common noncancerous growth is a tumor of the periodontal ligament (called an epulid)
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Diagnosis of Cancerous and Noncancerous Mouth Growths in Dogs

The diagnosis of the growth will include the answer to a very important question. How far does the growth extend into the surrounding tissue? Dental radiographs of the mass will be done first. A biopsy taken from the growth will be necessary in order to get a microscopic view of the growth.

It should be noted that sometimes a growth can be removed at the time of biopsy (excisional biopsy). Although, in the majority of cases the veterinarian will resort to an incisional biopsy. An incisional biopsy will be performed to accurately determine the type of growth and the best avenue of treatment. The biopsy will be transferred to a pathologist for examination.

Depending on the initial diagnosis of the growth, further tests may be required such as chest x-ray, abdominal x-ray, and lymph node biopsy, particularly in the case of a cancerous growth. It is imperative to determine the extent that the cancer has spread.

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Treatment of Cancerous and Noncancerous Mouth Growths in Dogs

A growth in the mouth is abnormal, no matter what the cause. Fortunately, noncancerous growths have a good prognosis for complete eradication. This is because benign lumps do not invade bone or spread to other tissues and have well-defined borders. Removal is often a simple surgery. Note, these growths can return.

Cancerous growths are more complicated. Surgery will most often include a removal of some of the surrounding oral tissue along with the growth, in order to eliminate the mass in it’s entirety. Radiation therapy and chemotherapy may follow the surgery.

For example:

  • Melanoma
    • This cancer appears in the soft tissue cells of the tongue, cheeks, and jaws. There is a high rate of metastasis (spread) to the lymph nodes and lungs. Surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation are the usual courses of treatment.
  • Squamous Cell Carcinoma
    • This is a painful cancer that is found in mouth and throat tissues. Though the prognosis of recovery can be good, metastasis can be aggressive if not caught early. Due to the wide range of cancers and their unique characteristics, veterinarians must decide on a treatment course case by case. There are oral cancers that have a rare chance of spread, such as Fibrosarcoma. Others, like Osteosarcoma (originating in the bone) are extremely aggressive necessitating a longer, more invasive treatment.
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Worried about the cost of Cancerous Noncancerous Mouth treatment?

Pet Insurance covers the cost of many common pet health conditions. Prepare for the unexpected by getting a quote from top pet insurance providers.

Recovery of Cancerous and Noncancerous Mouth Growths in Dogs

The length of recovery time for your dog will depend upon the surgery, as well as the need for follow-up radiation and chemotherapy.

A noncancerous growth can often be removed quite easily. It has been shown that canines recover fairly quickly from oral surgery and may be back to normal behavior within a day or two. Medication will be prescribed for pain if needed. A change in diet may be recommended until your dog’s mouth has completely healed from the surgery. Daily brushing of teeth and a weekly inspection of your pet’s mouth should be the norm, in order to check for a new or returning growth.

A canine cancer patient has a longer road of recovery ahead. Frequent visits to the clinic will be needed in order to assure that your dog is responding to the cancer treatments. As well, a dog who has had surgery to remove a cancerous tumor will have had in many cases, a large amount of tissue or bone that surrounded the growth, removed. This may mean a period of adjustment for your dog. It is known, however, that dogs often adjust to oral changes quickly without too much interruption to their eating habits.

Paying to treat cancerous and non-cancerous mouth growths out of pocket can be a major financial burden. Fortunately, most pet insurance companies reimburse claims within 3 days, putting 90% of the bill back in your pocket. In the market for pet insurance? Compare leading pet insurance companies to find the right plan for your pet.

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Cancerous and Noncancerous Mouth Growths Average Cost

From 17 quotes ranging from $4,000 - $15,000

Average Cost

$10,000

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Cancerous and Noncancerous Mouth Growths Questions and Advice from Veterinary Professionals

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Chihuahua

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11 years

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7 found helpful

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7 found helpful

Has Symptoms

My dog has a large black hairy lump on the roof of her mouth

Dec. 25, 2020

Owner

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Dr. Linda S. MVB MRCVS

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7 Recommendations

Thank you for this photo. A dark growth in the mouth could be a number of things and we would want to rule out a cancer such as a melanoma The best thing to do is to have the lump sampled and analysed and we would go from there.

Dec. 25, 2020

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Boxer

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Six Years

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0 found helpful

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0 found helpful

Has Symptoms

Mouth Growth

Maka had had growths in her mouth for awhile. I called for an appt with her vet yesterday to get her updated shots and told them about the growths. When I was on the phone, the one was red as it normally is. About an hour later it became purple. Now today it's looking gray. She has been scratching at her face and is biting it. The vet appt is in about a week and a half. Should I try and see the vet sooner for the growths or can she wait that long?

Sept. 26, 2020

Owner

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Dr. Michele K. DVM

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0 Recommendations

Thank you for your question. . I hope that everything went well for her and you were able to have her seen by your veterinarian.

Oct. 17, 2020

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Cancerous and Noncancerous Mouth Growths Average Cost

From 17 quotes ranging from $4,000 - $15,000

Average Cost

$10,000

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