Q:  Our three year old Golden Retriever gets blisters on her jowls. They bleed and then go away.  What are they are and how are they caused?  

A:  Soft tissue growths on or around a dog’s mouth are not all that uncommon and are usually benign (non-cancerous).  In most cases they are papillomas, or a cauliflower type growth, resulting from a virus to which your dog has likely been exposed and of which is now a carrier.  The fact that you have described the behavior of the growths as waxing and waning, or regressing (disappearing) completely is also a good sign as to their tissue origins and nature.

However, to be sure I strongly reccommend that you visit your local veterinarian. Have one or all of the growths removed the next time they come back.  This is easily done under sedation or general anesthesia. Make sure that the biopsied tissue is submitted to the laboratory for histopathology (tissue and cell type, tissue origin, nature of growth, etc.).

Credit: Reviewed by Andrew M. Streiber, DVM

(WEBVET  4.12.09)