My Dog Has a Cut in Their Mouth
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It is not always easy to see when our dog has oral health problems. Not only are cuts, lacerations, ulcers and sores on the inside of their mouth, but dogs are particularly good a hiding signs of pain. If your dog has a cut in their mouth, you may only observe it when you look inside. Too many guardians don't look into their dog's mouth regularly. It is important we do so as an oral health problem might worsen or it may even be a sign of a larger systemic problem.
At AnimalWised, we look at what happens when your dog has a cut in their mouth. We look at some of the common causes of a dog having lacerations in the mouth, as well as how to avoid complications and better ensure healing.
Oral wounds in dogs
Oral wounds are injuries that occur in the oral mucosa and the tongue in the dog's mouth. The mucosa is the sensitive tissue which makes up the dog's gums, a structure also known as gingiva. It also covers the other parts of the inside of their mouth such as their palate. The mucosa is more sensitive to damage, but this usually isn't a problem since it should remain protected inside the mouth.
However, there are ways in which the oral cavity can be cut or lacerated. When this occurs, we may not always see bleeding from the dog's mouth. While blood vessels are connected to the mucosa since they are not sufficiently deep. If there is a lot of blood, it means the cut is very bad.
There are gradations of cuts in a dog's mouth. If they have a small cut, it will not usually bleed for long and will usually heal on its own very quickly. This is because the oral mucosa usually heals faster than other areas such as the skin. If a cut becomes infected, it can ulcerate or develop into a sore. Sores and mouth ulcers can also develop even if no physical trauma has been incurred.
When your dog has a cut or sore in their mouth, good oral health will be essential to prevent infection of these lesions. This is because bacteria which proliferate in the dog's mouth can infect the lesion, something which can even result in blood poisoning.
Learn more about canine oral hygiene with our article on how to clean a dog's teeth.
Causes of cuts in a dog's mouth
An oral wound or a sore that forms from it can have various underlying causes. The following are the main causes of cuts in a dog's mouth:
- Chewing on hard objects
- Ingestion of indigestible objects
- Foxtails and similar sharp vegetation
Physical trauma is a common reason a dog will cut their mouths. Since dogs investigate their environment with their mouths, they pick up objects and test them with their mouths. They may do this and bite down hard on something which is sharp or spiky, damaging the sensitive mucosa in their mouth. However, they will usually exercise some caution, so they will usually stop biting if something injures them. Dogs may also eat something which appears safe, but has something inside which lacerates their mouth.
A dog's gums and other mucosa are a good indicator of a dog's overall health. When they are bright pink and have no lesions, it's a good sign and implies they are healthy. If they become darker or start to bleed, it means they either have a localized oral health problem or a systemic problem which has weakened their immunity. This is why dogs with diseases such as leishmaniasis or diabetes can develop cuts more easily.
Foxtails are arrow-shaped grass spikelets which are used for seed dispersal of certain grasses. They are very sharp and are common in spring. If a dog is outside playing, they may accidentally get a foxtail in their mouth which can cause them serious pain as it will dig into their mouth.
Stress can also weaken a dog's immune system. This can make them more susceptible to cuts, but only if the stress is very acute.
Take a look at our related article to see other reasons why a dog is bleeding from the mouth.
How to treat cuts in a dog's mouth
When we see a minor cut in our dog's mouth, it might not be necessary to go to a veterinarian. If the cut is small and stops bleeding after a short time, it should heal swiftly. However, if we see the dog's mucus membranes are discolored, the cut doesn't stop bleeding, it is deep, it has ulcerated or there are many at one time, it is best to seek professional help.
After the professional assesses the cut, they can diagnose the underlying cause. They may test for problems such as leishmaniasis or diabetes in dogs. They will perform a physical examination and look at the patient's history. If an infection is detected, they may need a blood test to determine the type of bacteria and the subsequent appropriate antibiotic treatment.
In cases when a wound has become inflamed, the dog may require an anti-inflammatory medication. This may be in the form of a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory (NSAID) oral medication or a topical product.
When we are caring for a dog with cuts in their mouth, we should tend to them at home. We will do this with the following:
- Wash the area with water and a little neutral soap.
- Dry carefully with the help of a cotton gauze.
- Apply a disinfectant product.
- Cover the wound or sore with the topical anti-inflammatory product.
This treatment must be repeated daily until the wound or sore has completely healed. We need to bear in mind this can take some time, especially if their immune system is weakened by an underlying pathology.
Natural remedies for cuts in a dog's mouth
Many people propose the use of various home remedies which are believed to accelerate healing. This include the use of products such as honey, aloe vera or homeopathic products. However, these are usually unnecessary and in some cases can be counterproductive.
For example, honey is believed to have some antimicrobial properties, but not considerably so. In addition, its use in a dog's mouth is more likely to promote bacterial plaque and ingestion is not generally good for dogs. In large amounts, aloe vera is toxic to dogs and shouldn't be used in their mouth. Evidence to prove its effectiveness for treating other skin problems is also insufficient.
In the majority causes of minor cuts and lacerations of a dog's mouth, they will heal them selves. If we see symptoms of infection, ulceration or signs of systemic disease, we should seek veterinary advice.
It is also important to distinguish between a cut in a dog's mouth and a dental disease. In the latter, gum bleeding is not due to trauma, but to other oral health problems. Learn more with our article on common dental diseases in dogs.
This article is purely informative. AnimalWised does not have the authority to prescribe any veterinary treatment or create a diagnosis. We invite you to take your pet to the veterinarian if they are suffering from any condition or pain.
If you want to read similar articles to My Dog Has a Cut in Their Mouth, we recommend you visit our Other health problems category.