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What is Inflammation of the Mouth?

Inflammation in your dog’s mouth can be referred to as stomatitis and/or ulcerative stomatitis. This oral condition is painful and can cause your dog to avoid eating and drinking. Typically, the result of a dental problem like a large amount of plaque on your dog’s teeth and gums, the condition can also result from an underlying issue (for example, diabetes, thyroid conditions, cancer or an autoimmune condition). You may observe redness and swelling of his gums and your dog will likely experience pain. Upon observing inflammation in your dog’s mouth, you will want to immediately take him to the veterinarian.

Typically referred to as stomatitis, inflammation of the mouth of your dog can be due to a dental issue or can occur as the result of an underlying health condition.

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Symptoms of Inflammation of the Mouth in Dogs

Should the inflammation in your dog’s mouth be the result of ulcerative stomatitis, you may observe the following:

  • His gums, mouth and/or tongue are swollen
  • He has sores in his mouth or on his tongue
  • He has bad breath
  • Appears lethargic
  • Continuously paws at this mouth
  • Excessive drool
  • Blood is present in the bowl he eats or drinks from
  • Disinterest in playing or other changes in his mood
  • Whining sounds when he is consuming food
  • Disinterest or refusing to eat or drink
  • Loss of weight

Types 

Should your dog be experiencing inflammation in his mouth it may be from:

  • Bacterial stomatitis
  • Lymphocytic stomatitis
  • Periodontal disorder
  • Acute necrotizing ulcerative gingivitis
  • Glossitis (inflammation of his tongue)
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Causes of Inflammation of the Mouth in Dogs

If your dog is experiencing inflammation in his mouth, it is typically caused by a dental issue. Other causes of inflammation in a dog’s mouth include:

  • Bacterial infection
  • Viruses
  • Diabetes
  • Thyroid or immune disorder
  • Cancer
  • Toxicosis
  • Urea in his blood
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Diagnosis of Inflammation of the Mouth in Dogs

Should you notice that your dog has inflammation somewhere in his mouth, you should have him examined by your veterinarian, as this could be painful for him and may point toward his having other health concerns that should be addressed.

It is likely you will be asked for information regarding the symptoms you have seen, when you first noticed them and whether any changes have occurred. You will also be asked about your dog’s eating habits and regular activities and whether there have been changes in either.

After conducting a physical examination (to include a close look within your dog’s mouth for plaque, tartar build-up and sores), it is likely that your veterinarian will conduct a CBC, blood chemistry panel, bacterial culture, fungal culture, oral swab and glucose test so that it can be determined if your dog is experiencing swelling in his mouth as a result of an underlying medical condition. X-rays may also be taken so that your veterinarian can tell if there is any internal reason that there is swelling in your dog’s mouth. General anesthesia will be used if your dog is experiencing a large amount of pain.

Depending on what is seen during the physical examination and the results of these tests, your veterinarian may consider additional evaluations to rule out cancer, an immune or thyroid disorder, uremia or toxicosis.

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Treatment of Inflammation of the Mouth in Dogs

Treatment for the swelling in your dog’s mouth will be dependent upon its cause. Often, your veterinarian will clean the teeth of your dog thoroughly while your dog is under general anesthesia. While the cleaning is taking place, your veterinarian will clean off the plaque and tartar, will clean underneath his gums and thoroughly rinse his mouth. Your veterinarian will also consider extracting teeth that are in bad shape. Antibacterial and antiseptic gel will be used on your dog’s teeth in an effort to slow down future build-up of plaque and tartar.

Should your dog be experiencing an infection, antibiotics will be provided. Pain and swelling may be reduced by pain medication and steroids. If the swelling in your dog’s mouth is the result of an underlying condition, your veterinarian will work on treating that condition so that your dog’s symptoms (including inflammation of his mouth) will be resolved.

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Recovery of Inflammation of the Mouth in Dogs

Your veterinarian will likely recommend that you provide dental care for your dog at home as well as attend follow up appointments for professional dental cleaning in order to minimize the chance of the inflammation returning. Special gels and hygiene chews may be recommended; other recommendations will depend on whether the inflammation is the result of an underlying condition.

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Inflammation of the Mouth Questions and Advice from Veterinary Professionals

Need pet health advice? Ask a vet

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Pit Bull

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Nine Years

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Mild severity

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2 found helpful

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Mild severity

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Skin Lesion

Quite a few small lesions spread amongst his body. Mouth also red on bottom, looks sore & has little red bumps.

Oct. 26, 2020

Owner

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Dr. Gina U. DVM

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2 Recommendations

Hello Thank you for the pictures. Your pet may have allergies with a secondary skin infection. Sometimes if dogs develop red papules or bombs, they can indicate that the pet is allergic to either the environment, food, fleas, etc. I recommend that you take him to a veterinarian for an exam and treatment. Good luck.

Oct. 26, 2020

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German Shepherd

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One Year

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Unknown severity

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1 found helpful

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Unknown severity

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Redness

Why is my one and half year old German Shepherd’s mouth red along one side, but not the other?

Sept. 28, 2020

Owner

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Dr. Michele K. DVM

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1 Recommendations

Thank you for your question. The picture that you attached looks like the skin on that part of your dogs mouth is red and irritated. He/she may have an infection or an irritation. It would make sense to see if there is something in the environment that is causing this, and if not, or it isn't getting better, then it would be best to have your dog seen by a veterinarian. They will be able to examine your dog and see what might be causing this, and let you know how to treat the problem. I hope that all goes well!

Oct. 6, 2020

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Poodle and fiest

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Thirteen Years

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Unknown severity

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0 found helpful

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Unknown severity

Has Symptoms

Guns And Itxh

He has grey gum in bottom and swollen bad bad breath and keep bothering his back itch with his not much teeth he usually eat twice but now once or less half less water so ... just to be honest that’s all i need to know he has great life... i just want to do the best for him not suffer thanks

Sept. 27, 2020

Owner

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Dr. Michele K. DVM

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0 Recommendations

Thank you for your question. If you are concerned that he is not doing well, It would be best to have your pet seen by a veterinarian, as they can examine them and see what might be going on, and get treatment if needed.

Oct. 12, 2020

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Labrador Retriever

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Nine Weeks

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Unknown severity

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0 found helpful

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Unknown severity

Has Symptoms

Puncture Wound Inside Of Cheek/Lip

our 10 year old bit our 9 week old puppy in retaliation of aggressive playing by the puppy there is a puncture wound inside our puppys mouth and their lip/cheek is swollen and painful. The puppy is still drinking water and wants to eat it is Saturday vet doesn't open til Monday

Sept. 27, 2020

Owner

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Dr. Michele K. DVM

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0 Recommendations

Thank you for your question. Since I cannot see your pet, It would be best to have your pet seen by a veterinarian, as they can examine them, see what might be going on, and get treatment for them.

Oct. 14, 2020

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Cheweenie

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Three Years

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Unknown severity

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0 found helpful

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Unknown severity

Has Symptoms

Swollen Mouth

My dog's mouth is swollen and red on one side and he keeps pawing at it

Sept. 25, 2020

Owner

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Dr. Michele K. DVM

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0 Recommendations

Thank you for your question. I apologize for the delay, this venue is not set up for urgent emails. I hope that your pet is feeling better. If they are still having problems, It would be best to have your pet seen by a veterinarian, as they can examine them, see what might be going on, and get any testing or treatment taken care of that might be needed.

Oct. 21, 2020

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Kona

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Border Collie

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2 Years

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Mild severity

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0 found helpful

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Mild severity

Has Symptoms

Rash

My 2 year old border collie mix has what looks like a rash around her lips. No discoloration on the inside of her mouth, just red skin around the outside of her lips. She doesn’t act like she’s in pain or anything but I don’t know why the discoloration.

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Gunner

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German Shepherd

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2 Years

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Mild severity

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0 found helpful

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Mild severity

Has Symptoms

Swollen Lip

Our German Shepherd has his bottom lip (towards his jaw) swollen, red and sometimes lightly bleeding. He’s almost 2 years old now and up to date on all his vaccinations. No idea what’s going on.

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Fenrir

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Belgian Malinois

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3 Years

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Moderate severity

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Moderate severity

Has Symptoms

Swollen Chapped Lips

So this has been going on for about a year now my Fenrir (Fen for short) loves his chew toys and his lips swell and chap some time even bleed. Now I take decent care of his teeth wth a dental supplements called plaquoff on top of dental chews and gets his teeth cleaned yearly. I have taken him to the vet a couple of time for this and they have not helped find the issue they just check it for infection fine nothing I have stop just fen toy so he can heal but it just swells back up in seconds if I give my a toy. I really hate keeping him from his toys I’m not sure what to do at this point

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Dylan

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Beagle

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11 Years

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Moderate severity

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Moderate severity

Has Symptoms

Reluctance To Eat And Drink
Flicking Tongue
Hanging Head

I have an 11 year old beagle. After lunch a few days ago, he snorted many times...not totally unusual. After that he has showed what seems to be pain while eating. He will eat, just very reluctantly. He also has not wanted to drink water. No drooling, no bleeding, no swelling or ulcers in mouth or under tongue. Hangs head post meal. Flicks tongue as if something is stuck to it. Clear eyes, normal bowel and urine. Still plays and loving walks. Just symptoms at meal time.

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Harvey

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Boston Terrier

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11 Months

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Moderate severity

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Moderate severity

Has Symptoms

Swelling
Tongue

Our puppy is 11 months old and his tongue is huge. Not just wide but thick and is causing irritation in his throat. His ALT’s were in the high 600’s but calcium and his bile acid was fine and liver appeared normal in ultrasound. No bug bites it has been ongoing for 5-6 months. Very little response to steroids but with benadry some reduction. He had lepto and a UTI and Kidney infection at 3-4 months Just had a biopsy punch. Anyone seen this? He has thick and excessive drooling and itvis affecting his eating as all food had to be slurry in form. He is loosing weight.

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