What are Epulis Tumors in the Mouths of Dogs?
Milo, a proud and caring dog parent, was alarmed when he noticed an unusual growth in his dog’s mouth. Worried about its potential implications, Milo rushed to his trusted veterinarian, seeking answers. As the diagnosis of an epulis tumor was revealed, Milo’s concern only grew. What did this mean for his beloved pet, and what could he do to help?
Epulis tumors are hard tissue growth that forms on the gums of dogs. Ossifying Epulis (OE) is a benign tumor that causes pain and discomfort when chewing food. OE usually occurs between two and four years of age. The most common breeds affected include Labrador Retrievers, Golden Retrievers, German Shepherds, and Boxers.
OE is characterized by painful swelling of the gum tissue. This condition is often mistaken for periodontal disease, which is not uncommon in older dogs. However, OE does not respond well to treatment for periodontal disease.
OE usually appears between two and four years of age, although some cases occur later in life. The cause of OE is unknown, but it may be hereditary.
An acanthomatous epulis, also called acanthomatoid Epulis, is another common type of epulide. These lesions develop in older dogs and are less likely to recur than POFs. An acanthomatous lesion appears as a hard nodule that grows into the mouth’s soft tissues.
Acanthomatous ameloblastomas are rare malignancies of the jaw. They are locally invasive and can metastasize. In addition to the jaw bones, the mandible and maxilla are frequently involved. The prognosis is poor because of the high rates of local invasion and distant metastasis. Treatment includes surgical removal of the affected tissue.
Is Every Growth in a Dog’s Mouth an Epulis?
A tumor in the mouth is known as an “epulis.” This term refers to both benign and malignant growth. Benign tumors include warts, cysts, fibromas, pyogenic granulomas, and hemangiomas. Malignant tumors include squamous cell carcinoma, lymphosarcoma, melanoma, and osteosarcoma.
There are many different kinds of oral tumors. They can occur anywhere in the mouth, including inside the cheeks, tongue, lips, gums, palate, floor of the mouth, hard palate, soft palate, tonsils, and teeth. Most grow slowly over several months or even years. However, some grow and cause pain. These fast-growing tumors often require treatment.
Some of the most common types of oral tumors are listed below
- Wart – A wart is a small skin growth caused by a virus. Warts usually begin as tiny bumps on the surface of the skin. Over time, they become raised and scaly. Although they look like little lumps, warts do not hurt.
- Cyst – Cysts are fluid-filled sacs that form under the skin. They can develop anywhere in the body, including the mouth. When they occur in the mouth, they are called mucoceles. Mucoceles are similar to cysts, except they contain mucus rather than fluid.
- Fibroma – Fibromas are slow-growing masses of connective tissue. They typically start as firm lumps beneath the skin. As they grow larger, they push up against the surrounding tissues.
- Pyogenic Granuloma – Pyogenic granulomas are small red bumps on the skin. They are caused by bacteria entering the bloodstream and traveling to the skin. Once there, the bacteria multiply rapidly and produce pus. The pus forms a lump that looks like a pimple.
Causes of Epulis Tumor in Dogs
Epulis tumors are benign growths found in the mouths of some dogs. They’re usually white or pinkish and grow slowly over several months. The most common cause of epulis tumors in pets is excessive plaque buildup in the mouth. This occurs when pet owners need to brush their dog’s teeth regularly to avoid any tooth problems..
Plaque is a sticky film of bacteria and food particles that forms on the surface of the teeth and gums. Over time, this plaque hardens and becomes tartar. A Tartar is a hardened mass of bacteria and food particles.
Tartar builds up over time and eventually creates pockets where bacteria thrive. This leads to inflammation and infection. These infections can lead to epulis tumors.
Other factors include genetics, diet, hormonal imbalances, and environmental toxins. Some breeds are more prone to developing epulis tumors than others.
Symptoms of Canine Epulis Tumor
An epulis commonly occurs in the gum tissue behind the canine teeth. This area is called the alveolar ridge. If you look closely at your dog’s teeth, you’ll notice that there are small bumps along the sides of each tooth.
These bumps are part of the bone structure of the jaw. When an epulis forms, it grows into the space between the bone and the tooth.
If your dog develops an epulis, she might show signs such as drooling, chewing on one side, mouth pain, and refusal to eat. Other signs include bleeding, swelling, and ulceration ( a sore area ). However, the most common symptom is bleeding because the tumor blocks blood flow through the gingiva. This causes redness and irritation.
Swelling happens because the tumor pushes against the underlying muscle. Ulcers appear when the tumor breaks down the protective layer of cells covering the gums. Ulceration often results from trauma or injury.
Your vet can perform a dental exam to determine whether your dog has an epulis. Then, he will probably recommend treatment if necessary.
Diagnosis for Dog Epulis Tumor
Veterinarians use several methods to diagnose Epulis, including visual inspection, palpation, radiographs, and endoscopy. In most cases, veterinarians will perform a thorough physical exam and collect tissue samples for analysis. This includes taking a piece of tumor sample and examining the surrounding tissues.
If the growth looks cancerous, a biopsy may be necessary. Biopsies involve cutting out a small piece of tissue and sending it to a lab for testing. Sometimes, a veterinarian will recommend a surgical procedure called enucleation to remove the entire mass.
Enucleation is recommended if there is concern that the tumor might grow into vital structures such as nerves or bones.
Canine Epulis Treatment
Most pet insurance companies cover the costs associated with treating Tumors of the Gum Epulis in pets. Veterinary dentists are specialists trained to handle dental problems, including those caused by Epulis. There are several treatments for Tumors of the gum epulis in dogs, including topical medications, laser therapy, cryosurgery, electrosurgery, and radiation.
- Topical medications work well for small epulis tumors. They’re applied directly to cancer and may be used alone or in surgery. Topical medications are liquid and applied directly to the affected area.
- Surgery is the most common treatment for Epulis in dogs, although radiation therapy may help prevent recurrences if surgery cannot altogether remove masses. Radiation therapy uses radioactive material to kill the tumor. This method is usually reserved for cases where cancer cannot be removed surgically. It’s not recommended for puppies younger than six months of age.
- Laser therapy uses light energy to kill the tumor. Laser therapy is often used to treat epulis tumors because it leaves no scarring. However, it takes longer than other methods to work, and it requires multiple treatments.
- Cryosurgery involves freezing the tumor with liquid nitrogen. This causes the cells inside cancer to die off, leaving behind only dead tissue. Unfortunately, while this method kills cancer, it doesn’t remove the entire mass. Therefore, it may be necessary to repeat the procedure several times over weeks or months.
Electrosurgery uses electricity to destroy the tumor. This method works well when the cancer is small and near the skin’s surface. However, it isn’t very effective when the cancer is large or deep within the mouth.
Vets typically remove them surgically, but some owners opt for home remedies. For example, some owners apply hydrogen peroxide directly to the area where the tumor is located. Others use baking soda mixed with water.
If you decide to try treating your dog’s Epulis yourself, there are two things you should keep in mind. First, avoid applying hot water directly to the affected area. Instead, place a towel between the skin and the water source. Second, never leave your pet unattended when heating the room. Make sure your pet is safe at all times.
Recovery and Management for Epulis Tumor in Dogs
In most cases, Epulis tumor does not require treatment. Once the cancer is removed, your veterinarian will apply antibiotic ointment to the site. In addition, they may prescribe antibiotics to reduce the risk of infection. However, some owners choose to surgically remove the growth because it interferes with eating and chewing.
The surgical removal of epulides requires anesthesia and usually involves cutting away the affected area. Then, suturing is used to close up the wound. Afterward, your dog should recover quickly. Antibiotics are prescribed to prevent infection.
Things to remember:
- It is essential to keep your dog from licking any sore areas.
- Also, keep them quiet and calm during recovery.
- Keep your dog clean and dry. Use a soft toothbrush to brush their teeth gently daily. Brush your dog’s tongue regularly to remove plaque and tartar buildup.
- Be aware that dogs with tumors removed often develop new ones. Therefore, it is best to get them checked at least once every six months.
- Be sure to follow your veterinarian’s postoperative instructions carefully.
Contact your veterinarian immediately if you notice swelling around your dog’s mouth. They may recommend additional treatments, such as laser therapy or cryosurgery if the problem persists.
Frequently Asked Questions
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