Many times owners bring their dogs with the concern that something is wrong with their teeth and that some tissue is going around the base of the tooth. Luckily, it is not something that you should be concerned about as it is easily managed and treated.
What is epulis in dogs?
Epulis is a small growth that is not cancerous and it grows in the mouth around the teeth. It arises from the periodontal ligament, which is a small tissue whose purpose is to connect the tooth with the surrounding bone. When touched, it can be smooth or have a cobblestone structure and it usually keeps the same coloration as the gums.
Two different types of epulis grow in the mouth:
- Acanthomatous ameloblastoma
- Peripheral odontogenic fibroma
What are the clinical signs dogs show when they have epulis?
Owners usually notice changes in their dogs’ eating habits. Dogs may become reluctant to eat, especially solid food because they probably have painful gums and loose teeth. In some cases, owners may notice that the dog is missing a tooth and they know it is not from a fight with another dog.
Other signs include:
- excessive drooling
- bad breath
- bleeding from the gums
- chewing on one side of the mouth
- reluctant to play as they used to
How do vets diagnose epulis?
Once the owner has explained the chances they have noticed in their dog, the vet will then perform a physical examination. Because the dogs are usually in pain, they would be reluctant to allow someone to open their mouth for no reason. This is why the vet often suggests sedation, which helps them examine the animal more safely and in more detail.
Because epulis is not that different from any other mass, the vet will take a sample for biopsy, so that cancer can be excluded from the differential diagnosis.
How is epulis treated in dogs?
The best way to treat these growths is by surgically removing them. However, the vet should explain to the owner that surgery itself will not prevent the body from making new growths in the mouth. Usually, whenever the mass is removed, it is sent to pathology for further diagnostics, which will help determine the exact type and exclude cancer.
The owners should be prepared to pay between $500 and $1000 for the treatment and diagnosis of epulis.