Canine Mouth Tumors


"Canine mouth tumors are the fourth most common tumor type in dogs. They are frequently seen in the mucous membranes."


Mouth tumors are found in the tissue that holds your dog's teeth in its mouth. These tumors do not spread throughout the body, but can cause erosion of the area that holds the tooth. If not treated, your dog can experience pain and the loss of its tooth (called an epulis).

Tumors of the Gums, Lips, Tongue, Palate, and Tonsils are also possible and usually occur in middle age or older dogs. Tumors on the lips or mouth have a high likelihood of spreading to other organs in the body.

Types of Canine Tumors

There are different types of tumors that occur in cancer. In order of frequency the tumors are called:

Malignant Melanoma - When the cancerous melanocytes or cells spread from the original tumor and travel via blood and lymph vessels to lymph nodes and distant organs.

Squamous Cell Carcinoma - Cancer caused by exposure to the sun. Tends not to spread if caught early. Curable with surgery.

Fibrosarcoma - Occurs in the connective tissue between bones.

Osteosarcoma - Tumors that occur in the bone.

Breeds Where Canine Mouth Tumors are Common

50% of mouth tumors are found in:

  • Older Dachshunds
  • Cocker Spaniels
  • Poodles

Symptoms of Canine Mouth Tumors

Common symptoms are bad breath (halitosis), drooling, bleeding from the mouth, loose teeth, reduced appetite and blood in the saliva.

Diagnosis of Canine Mouth Tumors

The most common type of tumor is called a malignant melanoma and appears as a black spot. All other tumors must be tested from a sample (biopsy). Tests include MRI's, CT scans and X-rays.

Treatment of Canine Mouth Tumors

Treatment Options include some combination of surgery, radiation or chemotherapy. Surgery often includes the removal of a piece of jaw. Dogs adapt well to this type of surgery.

Natural supplements blended for dogs with cancer have shown some success in clinical studies as a supportive therapy. Get PetAlive C-Caps formula for Prevention and Treatment of Cancer in dogs was made for this purpose. Be sure to advise your vet if you try a herbal supplement so that they can monitor results.

Prognosis for Dogs with Mouth Tumors

Approximately 25% of dogs diagnosed with oral melanoma will survive for one year; 75% will not survive even this long.

Sources for Canine Cancer

Melanoma - Flat Coated Retriever Health Manual

Nutrition and Cancer: New Keys for Cure and Control 2003!
Gregory K. Ogilvie, DVM, DACVIM (Internal Medicine & Oncology)
Colorado State University
Fort Collins, CO, USA

Prostatic Disease in the Dog
Peter E. Holt, BVMS, PhD, ILTM, DECVS, CBiol, FIBiol, FRCVS
Professor of Veterinary Surgery, University of Bristol
Department of Clinical Veterinary Science
Langford, Bristol, UK

Antony Moore, BVSC Diplomate ACVIM
Director, Veterinary Oncology Consultants
379 Lake Innes Drive
Wauchope NSW 2446

Canine Brain Tumors: Improvements in Diagnosis and Treatment
R Chun
School of Veterinary Medicine
University of Wisconsin-Madison

Neoplasia of the Nervous System (spinal tumors)
S. Long
School of Veterinary Medicine
University of Pennsylvania

Current Therapy for Canine Oral Tumors
M. Kessler
Tierklinik Hofheim, Germany

Dog Owner's Home Veterinary Handbook
James M. Giffin
Liisa D. Carlson DVM

Hound Health Handbook
Betsy Brevitz, DVM