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Tumors of the Gums (Epulis) in Dogs

Epulis in Dogs

Epulides are tumors or tumor-like masses on an animal’s gums, which do not come from the teeth. They appear early on as small masses sprouting from the gum, which seem to hang from a stalk, and often displace tooth structures as they expand. Most epulides stick to the bone, do not have a capsule, and have a smooth to slightly nodular surface. They do not spread but may deform the face.

Epulides are the fourth most common oral tumor in dogs (rare in cats) and occur most often in brachycephalic breeds. Boxers tend to have a greater incidence of fibromatous epuli than other breeds of dog.

Symptoms and Types

There are three categories of epulides: fibromatous, ossifying, and acanthomatous. Acanthomatous epuli, in particular, are highly invasive to the bone and are usually located on the front part of the lower jaw. On occasion your dog will display no visible outward signs. It is therefore important you look inside your pet's mouth if you suspect a problem. Symptoms associated with epulides include:

  • Excessive salivation
  • Bad breath (halitosis)
  • Trouble eating
  • Blood from the mouth
  • Weight loss
  • Enlargement of the lymph nodes in the neck
  • Asymmetric upper or lower jaw

Causes

None identified.

Diagnosis

After you give a complete medical history for the animal to the veterinarian, he or she will conduct a thorough oral examination, which should reveal an epulide. If present, X-rays will be taken to classify the type of epulis and check the health of the teeth around the epulis. A section of the epulis must also be cut out, down to the bone, to be sent to the laboratory for analysis. This is best done while your dog is anesthetized.

 
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