It's very unfortunate that cancer is one of the most common diseases which affects dogs. Most dog owners can't tell that their dog has been affected by cancerous cells until and unless it shows some unusual behavior. Mouth cancer mainly happens in when the animal is in its twilight years, but this dangerous disease can strike your pet at anytime.
The oral cavity of your dog is possibly the most vulnerable spot for tumors both benign (non-cancerous) and malignant (cancerous). These oral tumors in dogs are usually found on the roof of the mouth or around the upper teeth. They increase very rapidly in size and start affecting the areas around them. If not treated immediately, these tumors can spread quickly to various parts of the body and increase in size. It's uncommon for young puppies to get oral cancer, but on rare occasions this has happened.
The most common types of mouth cancers which affects dogs are malignant melanomas, squamous cell carcinomas and fibrosarcomas. Melanomas are the most common. They grow and spread pretty early in the dog's body and most of the time it's to late to do the diagnosis. Melanomas usually appear as dark moles inside the dog's mouth and are often seen in the jaw as well as gums.
The second type is known as squamous cell carcinomas which is very aggressive in nature and they spread very slowly in the entire body and even if they do, they will majorly affect the underlying bone. The last type of common oral tumor is fibrosarcoma which doesn't spread and they appear as dark red spots in the jaw of the dog. Fibrosarcoma is mainly observed in large breed dogs.
Causes and Symptoms of Mouth Cancer in Dogs
It's still not clear what causes mouth cancer, but research shows that mouth cancer usually affects dogs that fall in the range of 6 and 22 months of age. Some veterinarians suspect the role of carcinogens (particles which cause cancer). Carcinogens can be inhaled by dogs as they sniff ground and almost everything around them.
These cancerous agents have the ability to affect and start multiplying as they enter the animal's body causing the growth of cancerous cells. Dogs can also consume carcinogens. According to a recent study, veterinarians have founded a direct link between dog food and dog oral cancer. The artificial preservatives and chemicals used in the dog food may contain carcinogens, although this study is still not confirmed and further research is going on.
You can prevent mouth cancer from going on to the worst stages if you have some information on the symptoms of canine mouth cancer. The most common symptoms are drooling, facial swelling, bleeding from the mouth, bad breath, chewing only from one side of the mouth and reduced appetite due to difficulty in eating food.
Treatment of Mouth Cancer in Dogs
Your veterinarian will need a detailed report of your dog's health and medical history to make proper diagnosis. Various blood tests will also be conducted to see how far the cancerous cells have spread in the body. The vet will also make a detailed check in the mouth, neck, face and lymph nodes to check if the cancer has spread over there. These types of tumors are very difficult to treat, surgery is not helpful in most cases because the tumor has already spread to many areas.
However, many veterinarians still advise it as it is the best choice for treatment. If the case is severe, the vet can remove the severed part of the jaw which is sometimes considered as the best option.
Once the surgery is done, the mouth will be sore for some months and the dog may face difficulty in chewing in the initial months. Most doctors recommend a soft diet for at least 6 to 7 months and most of them also give a special food recipe for dogs suffering from cancer.