Animal Dentistry and Oral Surgery Specialists, LLC

2409 Omro Road
Oshkosh, WI 54904-7713


Tongue Lesions in Pets


Tongue lesions in pets are typically not recognized unless acute injure results in bleeding or the inability to eat food normally.  Pet owners need to be aware that toys and other products that should be safe, can and do unfortunately result in tongue and oral injury to dogs, cats and other small animal pets.  Dogs with access to plants, caged, or those that are used for hunting can develop tongue lesions due to trauma or foreign body penetration (plants, porcupine quills ect.).  Dr. Kressin has managed cases where dogs have had tongue injuries from fans, electric mixing appliances or direct trauma (airplane and automobile accidents, baseball bats, golf clubs or other direct traumatic incidents).  Cats, dogs, ferrets, rabbits and rats all have been presented for injuries suffered from chewing electric cords.  These injuries can be locallized burns or multiorgan systemic injuries.  Patient stabilization is neccessary prior to definitive treatments of focal lesions. 

These lesions have included tongue burns, lacerations, macerations, punctures and tumors.

Other than malignant (life threatening) tumors or electrical (electrocution) injuries; pet tongue lesions are typically not life threatening.  The tongue has excellent vascular supply and the majority of injuries heal very well.  Dr. Kressin advises careful treatment planing prior to treatment for these patients.

Click canine tongue tumors for a detailed study on types of tongue tumors.

Diagnosis of pet tongue lesions. 

Tissue biopsy and histology (pathologist's evaluation of tissue) is very helpful in establishing of a definitive diagnosis for tongue lesions.  In many cases caseful observation can identify the cause of tongue lesions.  The dental malocclusion and foreign bodies have also been observed.


Treatment for pet tongue lesions.

Many tongue lesions heal without treatment however; surgical intervention is often helpful to speed the healing process or to remove masses or foreign bodies.  Foreign bodies are frequently seen in cats near the base (uderside) of the tongue.  In dogs they appear more commonly on the top or sides of the tongue in our experience.

Dr. Kressin has observed tongue tumors in cats, dogs and rabbits.  In cats tumors have been seen at the base (underside) of the tongue close to the attachment of the tongue to the floor of the mouth.  Dr. Kressin's own cat Oreo had a tongue tumor (neural sheath tumor) at the tip of the tongue (shown below).  All other tongue tumors in cats we have seen have been squamous cell carcinomas.

In dogs the tumors have typically been in the anterior (front) two thirds and most commonly on the sides or ventral (underside) aspect of the tongue.  One case shown below was observed on the top of the tongue left of the midline.  Melanoma has been the most common diagnosis in Dr. Kressin's practice.

 Rabbit tongue tumors are seen infrequently and in variable location.

Clinical photos of pet tongue lesions. 

Cat with tongue ulceration - Vet Dentistry

Cat with central tongue ulceration.

Cat tongue Ulceration - Vet Dentistry

Closer view of tongue ulceration.

Cat with multiple tongue masses - vet dentistry

Cat with multiple tongue masses at the side of the tongue.

Dog with tongue lesion - Vet Dentistry

Dog with traumatic tongue lesion. Notice the premolar and molar teeth are in contact with this tongue mass.  The lower jaw is shown on top.

Lesion on Dog Tongue - Vet Dentistry

Close up view of the same lesion. The lower jaw is on the bottom in this view.

Dog inflammatory Granuloma on tongue - vet dentistry

Excisional biopsy resulted in a histologic (pathologist's evaluation) diagnosis of inflammatory granuloma.

Tongue mass - Vet Dentistry

This mulitlobulated tongue mass was identified incidentally during intubation (placement of a breathing tube during anesthesia).  This tumor was left of the midline.

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This is a close up view of the mass.

Cat Tongue Mass - Vet Dentistry

Alternate side view of the tongue mass.

Biopsy of Cat Tongue Mass - Vet Dentistry

Excisional biopsy was procured.  The pathologist diagnosed a plasma cell tumor and excision is expected to be curative!

Tongue Excision of mass on cat's tongue - Vet Dentistry

Dr. Kressin's cat Oreo.  Nerve sheath tumor was excised at age 20 years.  1.3 cm of the tongue was excised!



Cat Dental Care 

Dog Dental Care