Inflammation of the tongue
Inflammation of the tongue is known as glossitis. This can be caused by infection, irritation, disease, wounds or other factors, for example, insect stings or electrical burns. Strings, threads or other foreign objects can get caught under the tongue. It can also be found in long haired animals who use the tongue and mouth to attempt to remove plant burrs from the hair. The most common symptoms are refusal to eat and excess drooling. In chronic cases, there may also be a thick brown discharge with a foul odor. There may also be some bleeding and the animal may be extremely reluctant to allow the mouth to be examined. There may be gum disease which can cause a reddened, swollen tongue and there may even sores on the edge of the tongue. There may not be swelling on the upper portion of the tongue but the underside may be painful and irritated. There may be a cut from the foreign body. Plant material, porcupine quills and other foreign materials can become very deeply embedded and may not be easily noticeable.
Insect stings to the tongue can cause sudden swelling. Also, some dogs have a deep central groove in the tongue which can become filled with hairs. The hairs can act as an irritant. Glossitis needs to be treated by a veterinarian. The vet will remove any foreign objects and may also remove any broken or diseased teeth. Any infection will be treated with an appropriate antibiotic. It may be necessary to cleanse any wounds and treat with an antiseptic mouthwash. It is recommend that the animal have a soft diet or be given intravenous fluids. It may become necessary to feed the dog through a feeding tube, if it is very weak or unable to eat for a prolonged period of time. Glossitis caused by insect stings may need emergency treatment. Glossitis related to another condition will need to be treated in conjunction with treatment for the primary condition. The tongue will heal quickly once the infection and irritation have been resolved.
Soft Tissue Trauma
It can be common to find injuries to the cheeks or mouth but these injuries are usually very responsive to treatment.
The tissue of the cheek can become trapped between the teeth as the animal is chewing which can cause a wound. This can be prevented from re-occurrence by surgically removing any excess tissue.
Chemical burns, electrical burns or thermal burns, heat burns, in the mouth of dogs are common injuries. The veterinarian will examine the animal for any injuries to the other body systems. Burn injuries can be mild with temporary discomfort or can be severe with tissue loss and scarring. There may also be deformity. In some cases, burn injuries can be life threatening. Puppies may chew on electrical cords which can leave a scar on the back of the tongue which shows the path of the cord. It is also possible that one or both of the lips will have a wound or scar. The teeth near the burn may be discolored and may eventually need a root canal procedure.
An animal with a burn injury may refuse to eat and drink. There may be drool and the animal may not allow the mouth or face to be touched. If there is noticeable tissue destruction, sores and inflammation may develop. Burn wounds can become infected. If someone observed the burn then all details must be related to the veterinarian. If the burn is chemical, the veterinarian may be able to neutralize the chemical, but this can only happen if the animal is seen immediately after the burn. The veterinarian may need to flush the burn with water, either in conjunction with neutralizing the chemical, or instead of neutralizing the chemical. It is more common that the animal is examined too long after the burn incident for neutralizing the chemical to be effective. If the only symptom is redden mouth lining with no damage to the tissue, then the animal may not need any more treatment than a soft food or liquid diet until the burn has healed. If there is more severe tissue damage, then the vet may cleanse the area to remove dead tissue and other debris, rinse the tissue with a chlorhexidine solution and prescribe antibiotics if there is a risk of infection.