Jump to section
Glossitis in dogs should always be evaluated by the veterinarian in order to identify the cause and determine a course of treatment that will provide relief for your pet. Symptoms such as bad breath, evidence of pain, loss of appetite, and drooling in excess of what may be normal for your dog are just a few of the signs that a clinical visit is warranted.
Lacerations, periodontal disease or severe trauma to the tongue are three reasons that a swelling of the tongue could occur. Depending on the cause, treatment could be as simple as a prescription for antibiotics, or as serious as surgery for a tumor or growth.
Glossitis is not necessarily a disease but rather an important clinical sign that may be a reaction to a specific disease or it may be associated with secondary mouth infection and ulcerations. The main characteristic associated with glossitis is an inflammation (swelling) of the tongue.
If the inflammation is chronic, then owners may notice their dog producing dark discharge along with small amounts of blood. You may notice the tongue tends to crack in longitudinal lines. These are referred to as fissures. Fissures may allow the accumulation of bacteria and foreign bodies to proliferate.
Primary and direct causes may be:
Secondary causes associated with metabolic disease may be:
Your veterinarian will perform a clinical exam to determine the extent of damage to the mouth. They will take a full history of your dog, which may include any previous drugs used, any allergic reactions, any change in environment, or recent changes in behavior.
Further laboratory tests may include biopsies of possible visible masses or growths that may be causing glossitis. The veterinarian will look for any signs of ulceration, bacterial infection and change in color of the tongue and surrounding tissue. A blood panel may be done to determine the possibility of metabolic diseases such as the progression or onset of kidney disease or diabetes.
As glossitis is a clinical sign of a potential underlying problem, treatment options will vary based on your companion’s particular case. However, a general rule of thumb may consist of administering anti-inflammatory drugs in order to first reduce the swelling of the tongue.
Secondly, veterinarians may prescribe a short course of analgesics in order to reduce pain and slowly encourage eating. Should the glossitis be related to periodontal disease, your vet may further prescribe a course of antibiotics aimed at treating bacterial infections.
Surgical intervention may be the likely route of treatment for cases that involve the removal of tumorous growths or necrotic tissue/bone. Tooth extractions and cleaning will be done should the tongue be swelling due to periodontal disease.
If the cause of glossitis was due to an allergic reaction to an insect sting, then depending of the severity, your veterinarian will first aim to locate and take out the stinger and then will administer a small dose of liquid baby Benadryl. Via a syringe, a liquid dosage is given every 6 to 8 hours at around 1 mg per pound of weight.
Recovery may take 4 to 6 weeks depending on the owner’s supportive care. Dogs may be put on a nutrient rich wet food diet, mainly if teeth have been recently extracted. However, if your pet refuses to eat for an extended period of time, tube feeding may be the suggested.
If cases are severe and progressive, such as chronic kidney disease, your vet may prescribe regular fluid administration. This may initially be done intravenously at the hospital and eventually, subcutaneously once or twice a week at your home.
In cases such as periodontal disease, your veterinarian may request a follow up on the mouth health and will suggest regular tooth brushing and possibly routine dental cleanings.
It has been suggested that home removal of plaque may be best done by a veterinary prescribed chlorhexidine gel, toothpaste and mouthwash. In order to reduce further inflammation, your dog may be given NSAIDs and opiates.
*Wag! may collect a share of sales or other compensation from the links on this page. Items are sold by the retailer, not Wag!.
0 found helpful
My dog has recently become disinterested in her food, I just noticed she also has a cracked tongue. Please could you advise? I have pictures...
Aug. 7, 2020
Dr. Michele K. DVM
Thank you for your question. Without being able to see her, it is difficult for me to say whether the tongue is causing a problem or not. If she has a decreased appetite, it may be a good idea to have her seen by a veterinarian, as they can examine all of her, see what might be going on, and give you a better idea as to what treatments she may need. I hope that all goes well for her!
Aug. 8, 2020
Was this experience helpful?
© 2020 Wag Labs, Inc. All rights reserved.
Download the Wag! app
Download the Wag! app