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208 Breeds, 422 Health Conditions  |  Find a Vet

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Mouth Lacerations View In Cats

First Aid Condition

First aid health condition




Condition Overview

Mouth injuries are much more common in dogs than in cats. A dog's love of chewing sticks, bones, and other inedible objects can result in splinters, punctures, or other abrasions that can be painful. Lacerations of the lips, gums, and tongue are common.


With any mouth injury, your pet may drool, have bloody saliva and refuse to eat, or eat reluctantly or in an odd way - perhaps with one side of his mouth.


Most mouth lacerations occur during fights with other animals. Occasionally, a dog accidentally bits her own lip or tongue usually because of a badly positioned canine tooth. Dogs can cut their tongues by picking up and licking sharp objects, such as the top of a food can.

An unusual cause of tongue trauma is freezing to metal kin extremely cold weather. When the dog pull its tongue free, epithelium strips off, leaving a raw bleeding surface.


Diagnosis is made by physical examination.


Control lip bleeding by applying pressure to the cut for 5 - 10 minutes. Grasp the lip between the fingers using a clean gauze dressing or a piece of linen. Bleeding from the tongue is difficult to control with direct pressure. Calm the dog and proceed to the nearest veterinary clinic.

Minor cuts that have stopped bleeding do not need to be sutured. Stitching should be considered when the edges of the wound gape open, when the laceration involves the lip border, or when bleeding persists after the pressure dressing is removed. Cuts into the muscle of the tongue will need suturing.

During healing, clean the dog's mouth twice daily with an antiseptic mouth wash. This will help speed up healing and clear out any debris that might be left from a stick or other foreign object. Fill a turkey baster or squirt bottle with the antiseptic solution and flush the mouth once or twice a day. Soak a cotton ball and gently swab the gums, teeth, and oral cavity.

An injury to your pets mouth will make the mouth sore and he may be reluctant to eat. You can soften the dogs food with some water and place it in the microwave for 5-10 seconds to heat it slightly (dependent upon how much food is in the bowl). Slightly grinding the food in a blender will also do the trick.

Be advised that some "prescription" style pet foods may in-fact have a slightly addictive property. Dogs that eat these foods will sometimes have difficulty transitioning back to regular dog foods.


If the laceration was caused by a poorly positioned tooth, the tooth should be extracted or realigned.

Mouth injuries usually heal very quickly on their own, due in part to the antiseptic properties of pet saliva. You can help speed up the healing process just by keeping the injury clean. After each meal, flush out your pet's mouth with clean water. You can use a turkey baster or a clean squirt bottle to direct the flow of water all around his mouth, being careful to avoid spraying the back of the mouth near the throat so that you don't choke the dog.


Please contact your veterinarian if you think your pet needs more than minor first aid.

Show Sources & Contributors +


Dog Owners Home Veterinary Handbook

Publisher: Wiley Publishing, 2007

Website: http://www.wiley.com/WileyCDA/

Authors: Debra M. Eldredge, Liisa D. Carlson, Delbert G. Carlson, James M. Giffen MD

The First Aid Companion for Dogs And Cats

Publisher: Rodale Inc, 2001

Website: http://www.rodalebooks.com/

Authors: Amy D. Shojai, Shane Bateman DVM

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