What Is The Weird Thing On My Dog’S Gums?

A Mysterious Bump on Your Dog’s Gum Could Indicate Serious Dental Disease

According to recent studies 1, upwards of 80% of dogs over age 3 suffer from some form of dental disease. If you notice any lumps, bumps, or other abnormalities in your dog’s mouth, it’s important to have a veterinarian examine them right away. This quick action could help prevent serious dental issues down the road.

Describe the ‘weird thing’

The “weird thing” on a dog’s gums typically refers to a benign tumor-like growth called an epulis (plural: epulides). Epulides are rubbery or firm pink, red or purple swellings that can develop on the gums around the teeth. They often originate from the periodontal ligament, which connects the teeth to the gums and jawbone. Epulides can range in size from small bumps just a few millimeters across to larger masses over 1 centimeter wide. They may be smooth, lobulated, or pedunculated (attached by a stalk).

The three main types of epulides in dogs are:

  • Fibromatous epulis – Composed of connective tissue and appears as a firm, fleshy mass.
  • Acanthomatous epulis – Contains squamous epithelial tissue and resembles a wart.
  • Ossifying epulis – Contains bony spicules and often bleeds easily.

Epulides most often develop on the gums around the incisors and premolars in the front of the mouth. However, they can potentially grow anywhere gums cover the teeth. These abnormal tissue growths may start out small but can expand and interfere with eating, oral hygiene and comfort if left untreated.

Possible causes

There are several possible causes for growths on a dog’s gums:

Papilloma viral infections: These benign tumors are caused by papillomaviruses and result in cauliflower-like growths on the gums, lips, and mouth. They are contagious and may regress on their own, but can also be removed surgically. [1]

Oral melanomas: Melanoma tumors originating from pigment-producing cells in the mouth are locally aggressive and have a high rate of metastasis. They often appear as raised, dark growths on the gums. [2]

Oral fibrosarcomas: These malignant connective tissue tumors are locally invasive into bone and have a high rate of recurrence. They may appear as an abnormal swelling on the gums. [3]

Epulides: The most common benign gum tumor in dogs, epulides are slow-growing masses that usually occur around the premolar and molar teeth. [1]

Squamous cell carcinoma: An aggressive cancer originating from the epithelial cells in the mouth. It often appears as an ulcerated mass on the gums, tonsils, or tongue. [2]

Osteosarcoma: An aggressive bone cancer that can involve the jaw bones and cause abnormal growths on the gums near affected areas. [3]

[1] https://vcahospitals.com/know-your-pet/oral-tumors-in-dogs-an-overview
[2] https://www.petmd.com/dog/conditions/mouth/c_dg_epulis
[3] https://wagwalking.com/condition/tumors-of-the-gums-epulis


It’s essential to get a veterinary examination and diagnosis if you notice any abnormal growths or masses in your dog’s mouth. While some mouth masses like epulides are benign, others like oral melanoma or squamous cell carcinoma can be malignant. Your veterinarian will perform a comprehensive oral exam, looking at the size, texture, color, and location of the growth.

The next step is often a fine-needle aspiration or biopsy to extract cells or a small tissue sample for analysis. Your vet will likely sedate your dog for this procedure. They will then send the sample to a veterinary pathologist who will examine the cells under a microscope. This cytology or histopathology allows the pathologist to determine whether the growth is benign or malignant.

In some cases, your vet may recommend advanced imaging such as X-rays or CT scans to see how deep the tumor may extend into the bone and tissue. Staging the tumor is important in determining the prognosis and best treatment approach.

A thorough veterinary diagnosis is crucial, as early detection and treatment of oral cancers greatly improves outcomes. An accurate diagnosis also helps inform the next steps, whether monitoring a benign growth or pursuing surgery, radiation or chemotherapy for malignant tumors.


A biopsy is usually recommended by the vet to determine exactly what type of growth is present on the dog’s gums. This involves taking a small sample of the tissue and analyzing it under a microscope.

The procedure is typically done under general anesthesia, where the dog is fully sedated. The vet will use a scalpel to remove a tiny piece of the growth, usually about the size of a grain of rice. This will be sent to a lab for examination by a veterinary pathologist.

Depending on the lab, results can take anywhere from a few days to over a week. The pathologist will determine if the growth is benign (non-cancerous) or malignant (cancerous). Benign growths like epulis are usually not as concerning, while malignant tumors may require additional treatment.

The area where the biopsy is taken from will be sutured closed. Most dogs recover very rapidly from the procedure with minimal discomfort. Antibiotics may be prescribed for a few days to prevent infection while the site heals.


The treatment for weird growths or masses on a dog’s gums will depend on the underlying cause. Here are some common treatment options:

For benign tumors like epulis, the most common treatment is surgical removal of the mass and a margin of healthy tissue around it. This is usually curative, meaning even though the entire tumor is removed, it does not tend to recur in that location (Source).

For malignant oral tumors like melanoma or squamous cell carcinoma, more aggressive treatment may be needed. This can include surgical removal, radiation therapy, chemotherapy, or some combination of these. The prognosis depends on the type, size and location of the tumor (Source).

For other causes like gum disease, treatment will focus on improving dental health. A dental cleaning and polish, antibiotics, and/or anti-inflammatory medications may be prescribed.

In all cases, regular at-home dental care is important to keep the gums and teeth clean and healthy. Gently brushing the teeth, using oral rinses, and providing dental treats can help.

Pain medication may also be prescribed to keep the dog comfortable before and after any procedures.

Consulting with a veterinarian is essential to get an accurate diagnosis and determine the appropriate treatment plan based on the dog’s specific condition.

Home care

There are several things you can do at home to help care for your dog’s oral health and monitor the condition of their gums:

Regularly check your dog’s gums and teeth for signs of gum disease like redness, swelling, and bad breath. Look for any growths or abnormalities. According to the Natural Remedies for Dog Gum Disease, inspecting your dog’s mouth weekly can help catch problems early.

Gently brush your dog’s teeth at home using a soft-bristled toothbrush and dog-safe toothpaste. This helps reduce plaque buildup. Only brush the outside surfaces of the teeth, not the inner side touching the gums.

Use dental treats or chews to scrape away plaque as your dog chews. Look for products formulated to improve oral health. Dog Stomatitis, Gingivitis, and Gum Care recommends looking for VOHC approval.

According to Home Remedies for Dog Gum Infections, you can make a saline rinse with warm water and salt to gently rinse your dog’s mouth and soothe inflamed gums. Only do this if your vet recommends it.

Avoid toys and chews that are too hard, which can damage teeth and gums. Stick to softer rubber toys if your dog has gum problems.

Make any diet changes your vet recommends to support gum health. Food formulated for dental care may help.

Monitor for signs of pain, changes in eating habits, and other concerning symptoms. Contact your vet if problems persist or worsen despite home care.


The prognosis for epulis and other benign gum growths in dogs is generally good after surgical removal. However, there is a chance of recurrence if the entire tumor is not removed during surgery. According to PetMD, the recurrence rate after surgical excision is around 10-15%.

If the tumor does recur after surgery, additional removal may be recommended. With complete surgical excision, most dogs can go on to live a normal life span. However, lifelong monitoring is advised to watch for potential regrowth.

The long-term outlook is positive if the epulis is benign and fully excised. Dogs can live for years after successful treatment without complication. Gum growths themselves are not life-threatening. However, they can impact quality of life if they grow large enough to interfere with eating or cause mouth pain.


The best way to prevent growths like epulis on your dog’s gums is through proper at-home dental care. Here are some tips for keeping your dog’s mouth healthy:

Brush your dog’s teeth daily. Use a soft bristle toothbrush and dog-safe toothpaste. Gentle brushing helps remove plaque and tartar buildup that can lead to gum disease and abnormal growths. Work up to brushing the entire mouth over time if your dog resists at first.

Schedule professional cleanings. In addition to brushing, your veterinarian should perform a full dental cleaning and examination annually or biannually. Professional cleanings go deeper than brushing to fully remove tartar below the gumline.

Avoid hard chews and toys. While chewing is great for dental health, extremely hard chews and toys can lead to gum trauma and irritation. Opt for softer rubber chew toys instead.

Feed dental diet foods. Some prescription and over-the-counter dog foods are formulated to reduce plaque and tartar. Feeding kibble also helps scrub the teeth.

Stop bad habits. If your dog chews rocks or other non-food items, block access to these objects. Chewing hard foreign objects can damage teeth and gums.

Schedule regular vet dental checks. Even with diligent at-home care, your vet should inspect your dog’s mouth and teeth at annual wellness exams. They can spot any abnormal growths or dental disease brewing early.

While epulis and other gum growths can’t always be prevented entirely, focusing on your dog’s dental health will reduce the chances of abnormal masses developing.

When to see a vet

If you notice a growth on your dog’s gums, it’s important to have your vet examine it as soon as possible. Some reasons you’ll want to take your dog to the vet immediately include:

The growth is rapidly increasing in size. According to PetMD, a fast-growing epulis may indicate cancer 1.

There is bleeding or ulceration of the growth. This can be a sign of infection or malignancy, especially if the dog is in pain 2.

Your dog is having difficulty eating or seems to be in pain when chewing or opening their mouth. The growth may be interfering with normal mouth function.

The growth is rapidly infringing on other teeth. It may require removal to prevent impacting additional teeth.

Your dog’s breath smells abnormally foul. The growth could be trapping food particles and bacteria, causing halitosis.

There are multiple growths or growths in different areas of your dog’s gums. This may indicate an underlying systemic issue.

Your dog is acting lethargic, not eating, or seems unwell. The growth could be a sign of a larger health problem.

In summary, abnormal gum growths in dogs should never be ignored. Schedule a veterinary exam right away if you notice any lumps, masses, or abnormalities in your dog’s gums or mouth. Early examination and treatment is key for the best outcome.

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