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What is Salivary Mucocele?

Canines have salivary glands under their tongues and in the back of their mouths.  Salivary glands produce saliva, which then goes through a salivary duct to the mouth, where it helps with the digestion process.  If a gland or duct gets damaged, saliva leaks into surrounding tissue and collects. Mucoceles are typically soft and non-painful, unless a secondary bacterial infection is present. Pharyngeal mucocele can make it difficult for the canine to breathe or swallow.

Salivary mucocele can develop into a major problem because the saliva is being constantly produced and the body is unable to reabsorb it all. The area where the saliva is being collected continues to grow and may form cysts. The problem will not just go away, you must take your pet to the veterinarian. The longer you wait, the more difficult it will be for your veterinarian to determine which salivary gland has ruptured.  

All breeds are susceptible to mucocele but there is an increased incidence in German Shepherds, Australian Silky Terriers, Poodles, and Dachshunds. Mucocele has no age predisposition; young or older dogs may develop the condition.

A salivary mucocele occurs when a collection of saliva leaks from a canine’s damaged salivary gland or salivary duct and collects in the surrounding tissues. This condition causes painless swelling of the neck or within the oral cavity.

Salivary Mucocele Average Cost

From 531 quotes ranging from $300 - $1,000

Average Cost

$500

Symptoms of Salivary Mucocele in Dogs

Salivary mucocele may include one or more of the following symptoms:

  • Swelling of the neck
  • Swelling under the tongue
  • Difficult swallowing
  • Breathing difficulties
  • Secondary bacterial infections
  • Fever if there is a bacterial infection
  • Blood in saliva

Types

 

  • Cervical mucocele - This is the most common type of mucocele; the saliva collects in the upper neck region, under the jaw, or in between the jaw

  • Ranula mucocele - Another common location for the formation of a mucocele; the saliva collects beneath the tongue alongside the tongue 
  • Zygomatic mucocele - Is a rare type of mucocele; the saliva collects around the eye 

  • Pharyngeal mucocele - This type of mucocele is also less common; the saliva collects mostly in the back of the throat
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Causes of Salivary Mucocele in Dogs

Usually, the exact cause is not usually determined, but there are certain breeds that show predisposition.  Additional causes may be:

  • Trauma from choke collars
  • Bite wounds
  • Sudden hyperextension of the neck
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Diagnosis of Salivary Mucocele in Dogs

Your veterinarian will go over your pet’s medical history and he will ask you when the swelling first started.  During the physical examination your veterinarian will gently palpate the area.  Usually mucoceles are easily identified; tumors and abscesses may appear similar but are generally firm and painful. Your veterinarian may recommend a sterile aspiration of the fluid in the mass. In mucocele the aspiration will be a clear blood tinged thick ropy fluid. The aspirated fluid will also be examined under the microscope. High white blood cell count in the fluid may indicate an infection in the salivary gland or an abscess.

Your veterinarian team will need to perform surgery to find the ruptured duct.  To make sure your pet is healthy and can undergo surgery, a complete blood work (CBC), urine test, and chemistry profile will be recommended.

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Treatment of Salivary Mucocele in Dogs

The only suitable treatment for salivary mucocele is surgery to remove the ruptured gland or glands involved. Aspiration or draining of the mass will only resolve the problem for a short amount of time.  

Ranulas, cervical and pharyngeal mucoceles are all treated by surgical removal of the mandibular and sublingual glands of the affected side. A zygomatic mucocele means the gland needs to be removed from beneath the eye.

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Recovery of Salivary Mucocele in Dogs

Following surgery your pet will receive pain medication; the veterinarian will prescribe nonsteroidal anti-inflammatories, local anesthetics, and narcotics to control the pain.  Most patients can go home on the same day as the surgery.  If the surgery was more complicated, your pet may need to remain hospitalized overnight. Once your pet is home, he can’t be allowed to scratch at the incision; the use of an Elizabethan collar will be necessary. Movement and exercise is usually restricted for about 3 weeks after surgery.  Follow-up visits will be necessary to check the incision and for the removal of the drain. Make sure to call your veterinarian if your pet experiences breathing difficulties, if there is swelling or bleeding of the incision.

The prognosis following surgery is very good. Removal of a set of salivary glands will not alter your pet’s salivary function, the other glands will take over the work. The recurrence of the mucocele is very uncommon.

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Salivary Mucocele Average Cost

From 531 quotes ranging from $300 - $1,000

Average Cost

$500

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Salivary Mucocele Questions and Advice from Veterinary Professionals

Need pet health advice? Ask a vet

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Ask a Vet

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Lucky

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Mini Australian ShepherD

dog-age-icon

2 Years

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

Moderate severity

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2 found helpful

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

Moderate severity

Has Symptoms

Swelling On One Side Of
Swelling On One Side Of The Neck
Swelling On One Side Of The Neck, U

Chronic salivary mucocele. Had surgery twice. Two necrotic glands removed. Due to scarring, I hate more surgery in the area, but clearly, there’s more leakage. Anything else I could do?

April 15, 2018

Lucky's Owner

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3320 Recommendations

There are limited options with salivary mucocele which include surgical removal, marsupialization or frequent aspiration. Unfortunately there are not many choices available for these types of cases. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM www.acvs.org/small-animal/salivary-mucocele

April 16, 2018

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Max

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Weimaraner

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12 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

Lump

Max had a partial mandibulectomy. 4 weeks later he has a sublingual mucocele. He had it surgically unblocked. Does it matter if he eats soft or hard food moving forward?

Dec. 23, 2017

Max's Owner

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Dr. Michele K. DVM

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1611 Recommendations

Thank you for your question. Without knowing more about Max and his condition, it sounds like he has had a fair amount of trauma and surgery around his mouth, and he would probably appreciate soft food until he is fully recovered. Once he has recovered, you should be able to feed whichever food he prefers, but it would be a good idea to ask your veterinarian, as they know more about his health status.

Dec. 24, 2017

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Sway

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Lab mix

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15 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

Lump Under Tongue.

I believe my 15 yr old lab mix has a ranula under tongue. I first noticed a few days ago. Every article says only surgery helpful but with her age, that worries me. Any other alternatives?

Oct. 12, 2017

Sway's Owner

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recommendation-ribbon

3320 Recommendations

Surgery is the only long term treatment of choice, any other option would only be a short term fix (and I mean very short term). Aspiration of the ranula is the only real other alternative and requires aspiration every time it swells up again. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM www.acvs.org/small-animal/salivary-mucocele

Oct. 12, 2017

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Sparta

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Chihuahua

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8 Years

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Serious severity

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0 found helpful

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

Serious severity

Has Symptoms

Difficulty Swallowing
Swollen Salivary Glands

any way of treating Salivary Mucocele other than surgery? He has swollen salivary glands and is having difficulty swallowing. This seems very serious to the point to wear it is fatal. The online resources say that only surgery helps but can an allergy medicine help!! He was fine until 4 oclock so i dont understand. Please help!!

July 26, 2017

Sparta's Owner

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3320 Recommendations

Has the swelling been confirmed by your Veterinarian? Depending on the location of the swelling it may be due to salivary glands or lymph nodes. Some enlargement of salivary glands like sialadenosis may be treated medically, but this would need to be confirmed by your Veterinarian; salivary mucocele would require surgery as medical management is ineffective. The rapid onset of swelling should be seen by your Veterinarian. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM

July 26, 2017

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Archie

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English Springer Spaniel

dog-age-icon

3 Years

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Fair severity

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0 found helpful

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

Fair severity

Has Symptoms

Salivary
Salivary Glands

Hi, My 3 year old springer spaniel has salivary glands which has been confirmed with the vet! -he's still eating/drinking, still his self nothing has changed.. If i dont choose to put him through surgery will this later on effect him? Please help!

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Lola

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Golden Retriever

dog-age-icon

14 Years

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

Serious severity

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0 found helpful

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

Serious severity

Has Symptoms

Swelling
Lethargy
Pacing
Not Eating Or Drinking

Our nearly 14 year old golden retriever was recently diagnosed with this condition. I noticed excessive drooling in the morning, but several hours later she was acting abnormally, pacing and very lethargic, and she could not eat or drink due to the swelling. Due to past health conditions and her age, our vet believes surgery is risky. However we are also currently living abroad in a country where fine needle aspirations are not performed (I’ve checked several vets - no one has been willing/able to perform one, they just say the treatment for this is surgery but it’s very risky for her). She has been treated with a series of injections to reduce the swelling and help her system rebound, and she is doing well currently, she also goes back for a follow up tomorrow. I’m trying to read up on this topic as much as possible because I feel my options are very limited. If it turns out she’s not a good candidate for surgery and fine needle aspiration is not an option, are there any other treatment methods to improve her quality of life? She was suffering so badly yesterday. I know any veterinary advice would require an exam, but I’m just trying to understand treatment options.

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Cheerio

dog-breed-icon

Maltipoo

dog-age-icon

2 Years

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

Moderate severity

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0 found helpful

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

Moderate severity

Has Symptoms

Snoring
Swelling In Neck,
Obstruction Noise In Airway

My 2 yo Maltipoo has been diagnosed with a salivary mucocele. I have scheduled him for surgery but I am having trouble planning for his post-surgery care. I need resources to keep him from scratching / irritating his neck but he won't be able to wear an ecollar because of the incision site / drains. I have to work post-op Day 4.

Salivary Mucocele Average Cost

From 531 quotes ranging from $300 - $1,000

Average Cost

$500

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