First Walk is on Us!

✓ GPS tracked walks
✓ Activity reports
✓ On-demand walkers
Book FREE Walk

Jump to Section

What is Gingival Hyperplasia?

Gingival hyperplasia can affect a single tooth or all the teeth and although not inflammatory at first, can be affected by food debris and bacteria concentrating in the deep pockets or folds of the growing gum. This leads to inflammation and periodontal disease. Often, this condition causes the gum to overgrow so severely that your dog may end up chewing on its own tissue. The gums can be smooth or they may appear bumpy and rough. In itself, this condition is not malignant but it can develop into increased plaque and tartar accumulation which leads to tooth and gum disease.

This condition is relatively common amongst dogs and affects the gums in that they appear to grow up and over the teeth, expanding in size.

Book First Walk Free!

Symptoms of Gingival Hyperplasia in Dogs

  • The gums show an overgrowth that is starting to threaten some or all teeth and the growth looks abnormal to normal mouth/gum development 
  • Inflammation as a secondary infection from bacteria and food debris trapped in pockets of gum tissue 
  • Growth (shaped like bunches of grapes) formation of tissue forming along the gum line
  • Deep redness in the gums rather than a healthy pink colour
  • The teeth (or tooth) is completely covered by gum growth 
  • Bleeding from the mouth when eating 

Types  

There are three main types of gingival hyperplasia. 

  • Idiopathic Gingival Hyperplasia – The cause of this condition is unknown and cannot be pinpointed
  • Breed Disposition GH – Some breeds of dogs are prone to this condition (Boxers the most prolific, followed by Great Dane, Collies, Dalmatians and Doberman Pinschers)
  • Medication Induced GH – Some medications have been shown to cause GH

Causes of Gingival Hyperplasia in Dogs

  • Idiopathic and breed disposition gingival hyperplasia create difficulties in preventing reoccurrences as the cause of this condition is unknown 
  • Medications that cause GH fall into three main categories as follows 
  • Immunosuppressants – These are a type of drug that suppresses your dog’s immune systems; cyclosporine is a common drug to treat allergies, prednisolone and prednisone steroids, and chlorambucil which is used for chemotherapy in the treatment of cancer are all classed as immunosuppressants
  • Calcium channel blockers – These medications are used to prevent calcium entering cells within your dog’s heart and blood vessels and are used for cardiac disease treatment; the drugs include diltiazem, amlodipine and verapamil
  • Anticonvulsants – These are medications used for seizure disorder treatments and include potassium bromide, phenobarbital and levetiracetam (Keppra)

Diagnosis of Gingival Hyperplasia in Dogs

Gingival hyperplasia in your dog usually begins around middle age. It can begin in one area of the gum, and grow to completely cover all your dog’s teeth. Your veterinarian will inspect the mouth and gums of your pet, often during an awake exam. He will be checking the color of the gums (healthy is pink) and looking to assess if there is any redness, inflammation or overgrowth within the gum tissue. The confirmation of this condition is confirmed by an anesthetised examination. 

GH is noninflammatory, but inflammation caused by bacteria can lead to inflammation and periodontal disease as a secondary process. If this has happened with your dog, he will need x-rays to determine the extent of the periodontal disease.  A small sample of the gum (a biopsy) is taken to be examined under a microscope to determine whether it is hyperplastic (as in GH) or whether it is hypertrophic or neoplastic (cancer related). This enables the veterinarian to positively rule out any other diseases and allows the discussion for treatment to begin.

Treatment of Gingival Hyperplasia in Dogs

There are two main ways of treating this condition. The first is by medical means, while the second method relies on surgery. If your pet’s condition has been brought on by a specific medication, then changing the medications may prove beneficial. Because you cannot just stop your dog’s medication, he is obviously on the drugs for a reason and to just halt that is not an option. What the veterinarian may do is to try changing the medication to see if that produces any sort of relief. He may recommend giving your dog a thorough dental cleaning with oral antibiotics. This procedure will help reduce any inflammation caused by periodontal disease but it will not reduce or remove the hyperplasia of the gums. 

To remove the build-up of the gum tissue around the teeth and remove those deep pockets of flesh where disease can hide and flourish, it will take surgery to achieve that. The surgery will give your pet a nice gum line, removes those pockets of tissue, and reshape the gum tissue around the teeth providing a healthier mouth. Gingivoplasty is a gum surgery where the technician reshapes the gum tissue, removing the excess. Usually, laser, electro or traditional surgery methods are used to achieve this goal. Although the procedure is simple, it can be time consuming and therefore, costly. There is no guarantee that the condition may not reoccur, especially in those types of dogs who are more prone to this condition.

Recovery of Gingival Hyperplasia in Dogs

With any illness that involves surgery, supportive care at home continues the good work of the veterinarian dentist’s work. After your dog recovers at the clinic, the specialist will be able to tell you what care is needed when you take your dog home, and what signs to look for as your dog recovers. Check-ups after the operation will be necessary to ensure the gums are recovering. Your dog will need a warm bed and peace and quiet to recover, and may not have much of an appetite. To start, simple soft food is probably best. With plenty of fresh clean water and depending on what your specialist recommends, there may be medication for the pain and to fight any inflammation at first. Depending on the age of your dog and the extent of the treatment, recovery is usually optimistic.

Gingival Hyperplasia Questions and Advice from Veterinary Professionals

Finnigan
Boxer Dog
7 Years
Mild condition
2 found helpful
Mild condition

Hello my name is Zander and I have a 7 year old Boxer dog named Finnigan and he has Gingival Hyperplasia. Now they told us that they can give him the treatment he needs but we haven't done it yet due to it being, way to expensive at the moment, and we simply cannot afford it. I haven't noticed a growth in the gums in quite a long time but that doesn't stop me from being scared and worried for him, so I guess my question is can my dog die from Gingival Hyperplasia, if not treated right away?.

Dr. Callum Turner, DVM
Dr. Callum Turner, DVM
3317 Recommendations
A dog will not die directly from gingival hyperplasia but it may become infected, may cause pain whilst eating, bleed among other issues which if not managed or treated may cause grave consequences. The surgery is relatively simple and if cost is an issue try to find a charity clinic or a nonprofit in your area which may be able to do the surgery at a lower cost or price of donation especially if you can show low income or benefit. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM

Add a comment to Finnigan's experience

Was this experience helpful?

Eunice
American Bulldog
Nine Years
Moderate condition
0 found helpful
Moderate condition

Has Symptoms

Trouble chew

My American Bulldog and Boxer mix (not sure she is boxer but most likely is) has hyperplasia of her gums. What is the 1st course of treatment? If it is surgical, do I need to find a Vet Dentist? And how do I do that? Lastly how well do they recover from dental surgery?

Dr. Michele King, DVM
Dr. Michele King, DVM
1607 Recommendations
Thank you for your email. If Eunice does have hyperplasia of her gums, and not a tumor of some kind, dental surgery is the typical course of treatment for that condition. Most veterinarians are able to perform this surgery, and you should not need to see a specialist. The recovery tends to be fairly smooth, and may require antibiotics in addition to pain medications while she heals. Many dogs enjoy soft food for a few days, depending on the extent of the surgery that occurs.

Add a comment to Eunice's experience

Was this experience helpful?

Sophie
Bichon F
14 Years
Moderate condition
0 found helpful
Moderate condition

Has Symptoms

no other symptoms

My 14 year old Bichon may have Gingival Hyperplasia. Her gums on her front teeth are almost completely covering those teeth. She has a little bleeding but seems to be eating ok. However I am afraid of putting her thru surgery because of her age & prior health issues. She had Liver Cancer a couple of years ago but has completely recovered from that. Her liver enzymes still elevate but the Vet/Surgeon said because of the cancer she will also show higher than normal liver enzymes the rest of her life even though she has fully recovered. My concern now is her teeth/gums. Is there anything that can be done without surgery? I currently brush her teeth/gums 2-3 times per week with an extra soft toothbrush and with Organic Coconut Oil. Any advice you can provide will be greatly appreciated.

Dr. Michele King, DVM
Dr. Michele King, DVM
1607 Recommendations
There aren't any treatments for Gingival hyperplasia other than to surgically remove that gum tissue Given her health history, age and condition, it may be best to just monitor her eating and make sure that she is comfortable. She may need to eat a soft diet at this point. Since I cannot examine her, this is best to discuss with your veterinarian, as they know her health history, but the risks of surgery may outweigh any benefits.

Add a comment to Sophie's experience

Was this experience helpful?

Henry
Cocker Spaniel
9 Years
Moderate condition
0 found helpful
Moderate condition

Has Symptoms

Gum swelling

Medication Used

prednisone

My dog is experiencing what I to believe to be tell-tale sign of this disease. He has now grown a lump that is mobile and non-tender but was decreasing in size with antibiotics. Wondering what the next step would be to get our dog back to perfect health!

Dr. Michele King, DVM
Dr. Michele King, DVM
1607 Recommendations
Gingival hyperplasia doesn't typically change with antibiotic therapy, so Henry may have another reason for his lump. Since I cannot see him, it would be best to follow up with your veterinarian to discuss whether the antibiotics should be extended, or if there is any other therapy that he may need.

Add a comment to Henry's experience

Was this experience helpful?

Riley
Sheltie
4 Years
Moderate condition
0 found helpful
Moderate condition

Has Symptoms

rapid gum overgrowth

Medication Used

Phenobarbital

I have a 4 year old male Sheltie who is on phenobarbital to control seizures. His dosage was upped in November, and now I have noticed rapid overgrowth of his gums so that one of his teeth is completely covered. I think it is the phenobarbital that is causing this, but my vet says he has never heard of this. Can this be the cause of this gum overgrowth? And what kind of treatment is there? If he is able to get off the drug or take less of a dose again, will the gums recede?

Dr. Callum Turner, DVM
Dr. Callum Turner, DVM
3317 Recommendations
Some medications like phenobarbital may cause gingival hyperplasia in dogs (and is very well documented in humans); however whilst I am aware of treatment for other medicine induced gingival hyperplasia, I am not familiar with cases of phenobarbital due to the uncommon nature and lack of information on treatment. I would recommend discussing this page with your Veterinarian (phenobarbital is mentioned on the page) and to speak about possible management options, I cannot recommend reducing dosage or anything else as I haven’t examined Riley. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM

Add a comment to Riley's experience

Was this experience helpful?