08 Mar What to Do if Your Dog’s Mouth is Bleeding
Dogs are mischievous creatures and are always getting into trouble. As their caregivers, we often wonder how to help them when their curiosity turns wrong. It can be alarming when our canine companions are bleeding—especially if they are bleeding excessively—and we are unsure how to help them. Let’s talk through some of the more common reasons your dog’s mouth might be bleeding and what to do in these situations.
One Reason to NOT Be Concerned
There is one common reason you might notice blood from your dog’s mouth that is slightly less problematic. If you have a puppy around 12-16 weeks old and you note blood on a toy he has been chewing, this is very likely normal. Many people don’t know that puppies, just like humans, have deciduous “baby” teeth that all fall out and are replaced by permanent dentition.
Exfoliation (or loss) of deciduous teeth begins happening around 3-4 months old, and owners often don’t even notice! Frequently, a puppy tooth will fall out, and the puppy will swallow it, or it will be sucked up in the vacuum, never to be seen by the owner.
This exfoliation of deciduous dentition occasionally involves blood, which you may notice on a bone or a chew toy. In this case, there is no need to apply any treatment or seek medical attention—your little pup will be just fine. Of course, if you are concerned at all, your veterinarian would be happy to take a look and make sure nothing else is going on in there.
5 Reasons Your Dog May Be Bleeding from His Mouth & What to Do
Even a small amount of blood coming from your dog’s mouth could be cause for a trip to the vet. If your dog is persistently bleeding from his mouth, you should schedule an appointment as soon as possible with your vet or veterinary dentist. Here are a few reasons your dog might be bleeding from his mouth and what you should do about it.
If your dog is eight months old or older and you notice the same bloody bone or chew toy, this may be a more serious issue. Chewing can irritate the gingiva—especially if the gingiva is already irritated by gingivitis.
Gingivitis is a widespread dental issue in dogs and indicates periodontal disease. Although once daily brusing is the gold-standard for canine dental health, most dogs are not getting their teeth brushed regularly, so plaque and calculus can build up quickly on their enamel. Plaque and calculus contain harmful bacteria which lead to infection and inflammation of the oral tissues.
When these bacteria crawl into the gingival sulcus (the space between the tooth and the gingiva), the gums become red and irritated and bleed very easily. Often, this indicates that infection has begun to affect the bone surrounding the tooth roots, requiring periodontal therapy.
If you notice red, bleeding gums, but it is not extreme or persistent when your dog is not chewing, it would be a good idea to schedule a routine appointment with your regular veterinarian or veterinary dentist to have them assess your dog’s mouth, teeth, and gums.
2. Oral Lacerations
There are also several traumatic reasons that your dog’s mouth may bleed. Oral trauma typically comes along with more than just spots of blood on a chew toy—you may notice blood dripping from the oral cavity or see bloody saliva.
Dogs enjoy chewing and as curious creatures, they often take in the world around them through their mouths. For this reason, it is quite common for dogs to cut their mouth on a toy or other sharp object and cause a laceration, which can lead to quite a bit of bleeding.
Oral tissues tend to bleed excessively when punctured or cut, so even a tiny laceration can produce a lot of blood. If your dog’s mouth is dripping blood or if it has been ongoing for several minutes without slowing down, please take him directly to your regular veterinarian or a veterinary emergency clinic for an appointment as soon as possible.
Do not try to pry the mouth open or manipulate it too much, as this could dislodge any clot that has begun to form and cause the bleeding to worsen or start up again.
3. Foreign Materials
Occasionally a dog (retrievers are the classic case) will be chewing on a stick or other object—or even running with a stick in their mouth—and a piece will poke into the oral tissues or palate and become lodged. Oral foreign bodies cause bleeding initially, which may persist over time if not addressed.
Occasionally a dog will have an oral foreign body that the owner was not aware of for weeks or even months until a veterinarian detects it during an exam. Addressing an oral foreign body in a timely manner can prevent infection and destruction of the tissues.
If you think your dog may have an oral foreign body, it is best to not attempt to remove the object yourself! Evaluation and removal of oral foreign bodies should be done under anesthesia by your veterinarian. Suspicion of an oral foreign body would be a reason to seek emergency veterinary care.
4. Tooth Luxation
Another reason your dog’s mouth may be bleeding from trauma could be a luxated (dislocated) tooth—often the canine (fang) tooth. Tooth luxation can happen if a dog gets the tooth caught on a fence, during a dog fight, or even during casual play with another dog friend.
These injuries tend to bleed excessively as gingival lacerations occur when the tooth luxates. If you notice that your dog’s mouth is bleeding and you see a tooth pointing in an abnormal direction, this would be a reason for an emergency veterinary visit.
There are many options for treatment of a luxated tooth—often, the tooth can be preserved by replacement in the alveolus (socket) and placement of a splint. However, in the case of a luxated tooth, the blood supply to the tooth is always severed, which will require root canal therapy. If splinting and a root canal are not affordable or an option you’d like to choose, extraction of the tooth is also a reasonable alternative. While preserving a live tooth is ideal, we achieve our ultimate goals as long as the patient is pain-free with a functional bite.
5. Oral Tumors
One of the reasons for blood from the oral cavity that we hate to see is an oral tumor. The three most common malignant (cancerous) oral tumors in dogs are oral melanoma, squamous cell carcinoma, and fibrosarcoma.
Sometimes these tumors come along with swelling that is visible from the outside. Other times the tumor is on the tongue or the back of the mouth where it would be difficult to notice in regular day-to-day activity. In these cases, symptoms are more commonly blood or blood-tinged saliva from the mouth—particularly if on one side, difficulty eating or decrease in appetite, or significant halitosis.
If you notice these symptoms, the best thing to do would be to schedule an appointment with your veterinarian to take a more in-depth look into your dog’s mouth. They may even need to sedate your pet to evaluate what they need to see.
If your vet does find a tumor, don’t panic yet. Aside from the malignant lesions mentioned above, many benign oral tumors occur frequently in dogs. The first step will be for your vet to take an incisional biopsy (just a small piece) of the mass and send it out to a pathologist for diagnosis.
Once you know exactly what type of tumor you are dealing with, your vet can give you treatment options and information regarding prognosis, and you can decide together on the best plan for your pet. Your vet may recommend a trip to see a board-certified veterinary dentist, since we are also oral surgeons. If that is the case, we would love to see you!
Veterinary Dentists in Colorado
You were probably hoping to read this and learn what you might be able to do at home to help your dog if you notice his mouth bleeding. However, the best thing you can do is call your veterinarian since most causes for bleeding from the mouth will require further treatment. We know it’s more of a hassle than just being able to fix the issue at home, but we are here to help and are looking forward to fixing your canine companion up for you!