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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.

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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Ask a Vet

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Boxer

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Two Years

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Unknown severity

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1 found helpful

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Unknown severity

Has Symptoms

Serrated Part Of Her Lips Are Swollen And Red On Both Sides

The serrated part of her lips are red and inflamed. Also the area is very dry. She was at a boarding place for a week and we noticed today that her lips looked weird

Aug. 31, 2020

Owner

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Dr. Sara O. DVM

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0 Recommendations

Hello, SO sorry to hear about your dog. Some times this is due to allergies or a skin infection. You can try to clean this area with just water and try to keep it dry. Many times these dogs will need a round of antibiotics to help clear the infection. Keeping it as dry as possible will help it heal quicker. I hope your dog starts to feel better soon.

Aug. 31, 2020

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German Shepherd

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Two Years

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3 found helpful

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Unknown severity

Has Symptoms

Swollen Lip

Just got home from work and my dog pearl has a huge lump on her right lip. She is acting fine, no pain when I touched it but still worried! She doesn’t have any allergies that I know of, and I don’t think anything could have bit her but I just don’t know! Please let me know if this is something serious so that I can take her to the vet immediately! Thanks so much!

July 30, 2020

Owner

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Dr. Sara O. DVM

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0 Recommendations

Hello, So sorry to hear about your puppy. It does look like your puppy may have gotten stung by something, YOu can try Benadryl at 1mg per pound to see if the swelling goes down. If it is still swollen by tomorrow, it would be best to let your vet look at this and make sure there is not an infection. They can also give you steroids to help decrease the swelling.

July 30, 2020

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Cavalier King Charles Spaniel

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Twelve Years

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Unknown severity

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0 found helpful

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Unknown severity

Has Symptoms

Red Spot On Inside Of Lip

He keeps pawing at his mouth Last night it was bleeding heavily He still eats and drinks just paws his mouth after

July 20, 2020

Owner

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Dr. Sara O. DVM

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0 Recommendations

Hello, So sorry to hear about your dog. There are many reasons that he may be pawing at his mouth. He may have dental issues, mass growing in his mouth, something stuck in his mouth, or got bit or stung in his mouth. It would be best for your vet to examine your dog's mouth and they can address the issue and help him feel much better. Many times, dental issues are commonly seen in older dogs and very easy to fix. I hope that your dog starts to feel better soon.

July 20, 2020

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Jaxon

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Pit bull

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1 Year

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Moderate severity

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Moderate severity

Has Symptoms

Swollen Head
Mopey,Swo Head, Bad Breath,Drooling
Swollen Head, Bad Breath, And Drool
Swollen 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

Aug. 9, 2018

Jaxon's Owner

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Dr. Michele K. DVM

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1611 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.

Aug. 9, 2018

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Jc

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Amstaff

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8 Years

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Mild severity

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Mild severity

Has Symptoms

Swollen

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.

Aug. 9, 2018

Jc's Owner

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3320 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

Aug. 9, 2018

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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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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

dog-age-icon

2 Years

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Mild severity

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0 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

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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0 found helpful

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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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0 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

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.