Oral cancer

Cancer of the mouth or throat

Oral cancer, or cancer of the mouth (e.g., teeth, gums, tongue), can cause a variety of symptoms in pets. Common types of oral cancer include squamous cell carcinoma, melanoma, and fibrosarcoma. Signs may include:

  • Abnormal growths or lumps in the mouth or around the face
  • Bad breath that persists despite oral hygiene efforts
  • Difficulty or pain while eating or chewing
  • Persistent drooling or excessive salivation
  • Oral bleeding or presence of blood in saliva
  • Unexplained weight loss
  • Loss of appetite or decreased food intake
  • Oral sores or ulcers that do not heal

Other health conditions may share similar symptoms with oral cancer, including Dental Disease, oral infections, or Trauma to the mouth.

If you notice any of these signs or if you have concerns about your pet's health, it's essential to consult with your veterinarian. Early detection and intervention can improve the chances of successful management and improve your pet's quality of life.

When you visit the veterinarian for concerns related to oral cancer, the following may occur:

  • Physical examination: The veterinarian will perform a thorough physical examination of your pet, checking for any abnormalities or palpable masses in the mouth, throat, and lymph nodes. (Sedation may be needed in some pets.)
  • Diagnostic testing: Blood tests, imaging (such as X-rays), fine-needle aspiration, or biopsy may be recommended to evaluate the presence and extent of the cancer.
  • Treatment options: Treatment for oral cancer can vary depending on the specific type, location, and stage of the cancer. More aggressive options may include surgery to remove the tumor, radiation therapy, chemotherapy, or a combination of these approaches. Palliative care, focused on managing symptoms and improving quality of life, is also an important consideration for pets with cancer.
  • Advanced diagnostic or treatment options: Referral to a veterinary oncologist or veterinary surgeon may be advised for specialized diagnostic or treatment options.
  • Follow-up care: Your veterinarian will discuss a follow-up plan, which may involve regular monitoring, additional tests, or adjustments to the treatment regimen. It's crucial to maintain open communication with your veterinary care team throughout the process.

Remember, the decision regarding treatment options should be made in partnership with your veterinary care team, considering your pet's individual circumstances and well-being.

Unfortunately, there are no specific measures to prevent oral cancer in pets. However, there are steps you can take to promote overall health and potentially reduce the risk of certain cancers:

  • Maintain a balanced diet: Specific diets may be recommended to help manage health risks, so talk to your vet about your pet's particular health needs to ensure they are getting well-balanced nutrition.
  • Weight management: Obesity has been linked to an increased risk of cancer in pets, so maintaining a healthy weight is important. Provide regular exercise and appropriate environmental enrichment for mental stimulation to keep your pet physically active and mentally engaged.
  • Environmental safety: Minimize exposure to environmental toxins and hazardous substances that may contribute to the development of cancer. Keep your pet away from cigarette smoke, chemical cleaners, pesticides, and other potentially harmful substances.
  • Cancer screening or genetic testing: For pets with a higher predisposition to specific types of cancer, cancer screening or genetic testing may be available. Consult with your veterinarian to determine if testing is appropriate for your pet.
  • Early detection and intervention: Be vigilant in observing any changes in your pet's behavior, appetite, or overall health. In addition to routine veterinary checkups, seek veterinary attention promptly for evaluation and potential early intervention if you notice any concerning signs or symptoms.

Please note that the information provided here is not a substitute for professional veterinary advice. If you suspect your pet has oral cancer or any other health concerns, consult your veterinarian for proper diagnosis and treatment.

Nationwide® pet insurance claim example

Veterinary bill

$2,279

You pay only

$228

Oral cancer

You save

$2,051

Example reflects Accident & Illness plan with optional Congenital & Hereditary rider as well as the optional Cruciate rider added after the first year of coverage, with unlimited annual limit for each category with 90% reimbursement after the $250 annual deductible has been met. This plan may not be available in all areas. Pre-existing conditions are not covered. Veterinary bill amount is based on expenses incurred in the first 30 days after initial diagnosis.

Nationwide® pet insurance claim example

Veterinary bill

$2,279

You pay only

$228

Oral cancer

You save

$2,051

Example reflects Accident & Illness plan with optional Congenital & Hereditary rider as well as the optional Cruciate rider added after the first year of coverage, with unlimited annual limit for each category with 90% reimbursement after the $250 annual deductible has been met. This plan may not be available in all areas. Pre-existing conditions are not covered. Veterinary bill amount is based on expenses incurred in the first 30 days after initial diagnosis.

Nationwide® pet insurance claim example

Veterinary bill

$2,279

You pay only

$228

Oral cancer

You save

$2,051

Example reflects Accident & Illness plan with optional Congenital & Hereditary rider as well as the optional Cruciate rider added after the first year of coverage, with unlimited annual limit for each category with 90% reimbursement after the $250 annual deductible has been met. This plan may not be available in all areas. Pre-existing conditions are not covered. Veterinary bill amount is based on expenses incurred in the first 30 days after initial diagnosis.