Oral Inflammatory and Ulcerative Disease in Dogs

Oral Inflammatory and Ulcerative Disease in Dogs - Symptoms, Causes, Diagnosis, Treatment, Recovery, Management, Cost

What is Oral Inflammatory and Ulcerative Disease?

A dog’s mouth is full of bacteria: on his teeth, in and under his gums, and throughout the mucosal tissue.  While some of this is normal, it can overgrow and lead to issues within your dog’s mouth.  He can develop gum disease, tissue lesions, abscesses, and more.  If left untreated, it will progress in severity which will lead to lack of appetite and interest in drinking and therefore weight loss and dehydration.  

The sooner you seek treatment, the higher the chances of recovery.  Typical treatment consists of oral rinses and gel in addition to antibiotics. Prognosis of recovery will depend on the severity of the lesion in addition to the cause.  If treatable, your dog’s recovery is good given time and proper treatment.

If your dog is not interested in eating or drinking and seems to be experiencing pain in his mouth, you should take him to see his veterinarian as soon as possible.

Symptoms of Oral Inflammatory and Ulcerative Disease in Dogs

Symptoms may include:

  • Halitosis
  • Drooling 
  • Lack of interest in eating
  • Inflammation on some or all of the tissues in the mouth
  • Painful mouth
  • Lesions in the mouth
  • Wound in the mouth


Inflammation in the mouth can affect the gingival tissues leading to gingivitis, nongingival tissues known as periodontitis, alveolar mucosa, sublingual mucosa, lips and cheeks, oral mucosa, and the ventral and dorsal surfaces of the tongue.  The inflammation in the oral tissues can be a primary condition or develop as a secondary condition from some other source.

Causes of Oral Inflammatory and Ulcerative Disease in Dogs

The inflammation in your dog’s mouth can be caused by plaque buildup on his teeth or from bacteria in his mouth.  If there are lesions in his mouth, the severity depends on the exact cause and the duration of the disease.  Trauma to the tissues in the mouth can also lead to development of ulcers or abscesses.  The infection and inflammation can spread from your dog’s tooth through the tissues.  

Additional causes of oral inflammation and ulcerative conditions includes autoimmune diseases, chemical agents he may have ingested or taken into his mouth, metabolic disease, infectious disease, and possible developmental abnormalities.

Diagnosis of Oral Inflammatory and Ulcerative Disease in Dogs

Your veterinarian will want to do a full and thorough examination of your dog’s mouth.  Depending on how cooperative your dog is, she may be able to look at him while he is awake.  If not due to reluctance or pain, she may want to sedate him in order to give her a proper look.  This will allow the vet to look at and under his tongue, throughout his gums and under his lips.  Most dogs do not allow this while awake, especially if the mouth is painful, hence the sedation.  

She will continue by performing a full physical exam on your dog.  She will take special care to palpate his mandibular lymph nodes to check for enlargement.  While the issue may be exclusive to his mouth and throat, the full exam will allow her to check over your dog entirely for other subtle symptoms he may be experiencing.

If there is a mass or abnormality in the mouth, your veterinarian may recommend taking a sample for biopsy.  This will be able to determine if the mass is malignant or benign.  She will also look for sources of trauma or some sort of foreign object that could have caused his condition such as a grass spur lodged in his cheek mucosa which lead to the development of an abscess.

General blood work may also be recommended to evaluate your dog’s blood production and general internal health.  A complete blood cell count can indicate if your dog is experiencing any type of infection or anemia.  The chemistry panel will give levels of the internal organs such as the liver and kidney enzymes.  Blood work gives a good look at your dog’s overall health which is helpful for your veterinarian.

Treatment of Oral Inflammatory and Ulcerative Disease in Dogs

Your dog’s condition will determine his course of treatment.  He may need teeth extractions if he is suffering from gingivitis.  A dental cleaning will also help remove the excessive plaque and bacteria from your dog’s teeth and gums.  During this process, your veterinarian will be able to determine how deep the infection goes.  She may apply a medicated ointment directly into your dog’s mouth or tooth cavity at this time.  

Oral antibiotics will be prescribed to fight the infection systemically.  A mouthwash may also be prescribed for you to rinse your dog’s mouth with multiple times a day.  Debridement of the lesions will also help to remove necrotic tissues and promote healing.  Oral antiseptics will be suggested in the form of a solution or gel for you to apply to the lesions in your dog’s mouth. 

If your dog is suffering some sort of virus or autoimmune disease, your veterinarian will be able to offer him supportive therapy.  Your veterinarian cannot cure a virus or autoimmune disease but she can treat the symptoms.  If the cause is from a puncture wound, such as a grass spur, removing the object and cleaning the area is helpful in addition to an antibiotic medication.

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Recovery of Oral Inflammatory and Ulcerative Disease in Dogs

The severity of the lesions will affect your dog’s prognosis of recovery.  If caught early and treated properly, your dog should recover without complications.  If you wait too long to seek treatment or if it is caused by an autoimmune disease, his prognosis of recovery declines due to complications in the healing process.  Seeking treatment for your dog as soon as you notice something is wrong is the best thing you can do for him.

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