Viral Papillomas in Dogs


Q:  My dog has an off white lump in  her mouth, located just along the inside of her gum. What could be the cause?  The white lump started out pretty small a week or two ago and has slowly grown to about the size of a small marble. She does not seem to be in any pain, although her eating habits have decreased a bit. She is an inside dog in a well kept home and we go to the dog park about three times a week; this is her only interaction with other pets. I have enclosed a photo of her sore. Please help – while taking this photo we noticed another small one starting just on the exterior of her lip.  Both can be seen in the photo we attached.

A:  Any lump or soft tissue mass inside your dog’s mouth is certainly not typical and definitely worth investigating.  While your dog may not appear to you to be in any pain, she has already begun showing you signs of discomfort and irritation by virtue of the fact her appetite is appreciably decreased.  Additionally, because the mass has already changed (grown in size) within the last two weeks, indicates that it should be evaluated.

Unfortunately I was not able to view the photo you attached, but given what you have described, my initial thought is that you may me dealing with viral papillomas.  Benign, waxing and waning, soft tissue masses resulting from a virus with which your dog may have come into contact with.  Other possibilities include infection, cysts, a reaction to a toxin or possibly cancer.  Knowing more about your dog might change my list of possibilities for what you have described and the order in which I would consider them.

In this case, basic information about your dog – breed, age, and gender and prior health history  would be very beneficial.  Regardless, your veterinarian should thoroughly and properly assess any soft tissue mass in your dog’s oral cavity or elsewhere on its body.

Credit: Reviewed by Andrew M. Streiber, DVM

(WEBVET  3.23.09)

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