Growths in the mouth are commonly seen in dogs. In some cases, they can be scary, but that is not the case that often. In this article, we will learn about different types of mouth cancer and how much treating it will cost the owners.
What are the most common types of mouth tumors in dogs?
Most growths that are found in the dog’s mouth are benign, however, some of them can be malignant. The word benign is used to describe formations of the mouth and gums that are not likely to invade the surrounding tissue and cause dissemination and metastasis in other parts of the body. The most common benign tumor that is found in dogs is called epulis. It usually grows on the periodontal ligament that holds the tooth to the bone.
Malignant tumors or cancer is a word that describes the opposite. These growths can be aggressive can spread very fast and in many cases can be life-threatening. The most common types of malignant mouth cancers are:
- Squamous cell carcinoma: they don’t metastasize in the surrounding tissue, but they are very aggressive
- Malignant melanoma: this invasive mouth tumor is quite a challenge to remove. The dog is usually in lots of pain and by the time the owner notices cancer probably has spread to other parts of the body
- Fibrosarcoma: this is similar to squamous cell carcinoma and can look like cauliflower. They are not aggressive and they don’t spread until the tumor gets to later stages.
How are mouth tumors in dogs diagnosed?
Usually, owners notice that their dog becomes picky about its food or skips a meal. Sometimes when they try to pet the dog around its chin the dog may react painfully. In other cases owners notice abnormal growths, bleeding from the mouth, drooling or bad breath, white lesions, or sore spots in the mouth.
How is mouth cancer diagnosed in dogs?
When owners initially bring their dogs to the vet to wish some of the symptoms given above, the vet will ask a couple of questions regarding when they first noticed the signs and how long has this been going on. Then he will perform an examination of the mouth as well as the whole body. A visual inspection helps vets rule out trauma. After that, he may take a sample for biopsy from the mass or lesions and send it to pathology to confirm. Sometimes the vet may recommend a CT and MRI, just to exclude possible metastasis.
Once the diagnosis is confirmed that it is a tumor, the vet will explain to you at which stage of the disease your dog is. There are several stages of tumor development:
- Stage 1: The tumor size is up to 2 cm
- Stage 2: The tumor is between 2 to 4 cm
- Stage 3: The tumor is around 4 cm but it can be smaller with lymph nodes can be included
- Stage 4: At this point, the tumor has already spread through the body
What treatment options do dogs have for oral tumors?
There are several options that dogs that have this diagnosis have. Treatment of course depends on the stage of the cancer is in.
- Option 1: Surgical removal of the tumor and in cases when the bone is affected, the vet may cut out part of the jaw too.
- Option 2: Radiation therapy. In this case, the dog is well sedated and the vet uses a machine that gives targeted high-energy beams of radiation, which kills the cancer cells
- Option 3: Chemotherapy. When dogs are submitted to chemotherapy it means that the dogs receive drugs intravenously or orally.
The owners should expect prices for treatment between $1000 and $3000, where all the testing and examination are included.