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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


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)

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

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.

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.

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.

Inflammation of the Mouth Questions and Advice from Veterinary Professionals

14 Weeks
Serious condition
0 found helpful
Serious condition

Has Symptoms


Medication Used


I have a puppy who is 14 weeks old he keeps getting this crust coming out of both sides of his mouth and on his back left jaw every time I touch it to turn his head he starts crying. I don’t know what it could be or if it is his jaw or mouth?

Dr. Michele King, DVM
Dr. Michele King, DVM
1604 Recommendations
Conner may have a problem with his jaw, a tooth, or his mouth in some way. Without seeing him, I can't determine what the cause of the problem might be. It would be best to have him seen by a veterinarian, as they can look at him, examine his mouth, and get a better idea as to what might be going on and what treatment he may need.

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toy poodle
14 Years
Serious condition
0 found helpful
Serious condition

Has Symptoms

deep cough
deep coug

Senior dog has plaque but suddenly has pain in mouth and drools he also drinks a lot of water and then throws up clear slime He pays his face a lot and has lost some weight because I do not give him human food anymore he eats dog food normally but is underweight blood tests yesterday all normal except thyroid.7 Every so often he chips in pain for no apparent reason

Dr. Michele King, DVM
Dr. Michele King, DVM
1604 Recommendations
It sounds like Buster is having some dental pain, which can be quite terrible, for dogs or people. It would be best to have him seen by a veterinarian, as they can examine him, determine what might be going on, and give you recommendations for any needed treatment.

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8 Years
Mild condition
0 found helpful
Mild condition

Has Symptoms


My dog has swelling of her upper lip, it's the third time now, I think it's an ant bite but am unsure, it swells badly & makes one side of her mouth really large & it feels almost solid where her lips should be soft & floppy. She's an 8 year old amstaff. 1time it was on the right but the last 2 times its on the other side. The swelling doesn't seem to affect her breathing & some ice seems to help reduce it.

Dr. Callum Turner, DVM
Dr. Callum Turner, DVM
3314 Recommendations
Insect bites may cause severe swelling and other reactions, you should keep an eye on these swellings and see if they go down faster with Benadryl at 1mg/lb; some dogs are sensitive to insect bites more than others, there is nothing specific I can recommend for prevention. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM

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Pit bull
1 Year
Moderate condition
0 found helpful
Moderate condition

Has Symptoms

Swollen head, bad breath, drooling
Swollen head
Swollen head, bad breath, and drool
Mopey,swo head, bad breath,drooling

So my friend just came back from the vet yesterday a little bit frustrated. He has a one and a half year old pitbull named Jaxon and has been acting very strange for almost a week now. Jaxon all of a sudden has been drooling excessively, swollen head and very bad breath. He is refusing to eat and has lost 5 lbs. He is also very sad and mopey :-( My friend is frustrated because the vet didn't give him any sort of explanation of what could be going on or if there's any other care besides giving Jaxon antibiotics which, Might I add, is difficult to do because Jaxon doesn't want to eat, nor does he want anybody to near his mouth. Also,Any suggestions on what it could be possibly be that could be wrong with Jaxon? Do not worry about any of this information because I am the friend not the owner and will not be trying anything wacky on any four-legged friends. Curiosity mostly especially wanting to know what the cortisol could be used for. Thank you

Dr. Michele King, DVM
Dr. Michele King, DVM
1604 Recommendations
My first thought, without seeing Jaxon, is that there must be something going on with his mouth, a broken tooth or growth or infection. I'm not sure if that is what might be being treated with the antibiotics. If your friend is frustrated by their visit, they have a couple of choices. They can call or visit their veterinarian and discuss that they need more information, and they may get a better explanation of what that veterinarian thinks is going on. Sometimes we get busy and we forget to explain things. The other alternative would be to get a second opinion, as another veterinarian might be able to explain things better. As far as the cortisol, I'm not sure if you are referring to a test or a product, and I can't comment on that without more information.

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