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Differential Diagnosis: Oral Ulceration in Dogs

Jan Bellows, DVM, FAVD, DAVDC, DABVP, All Pets Dental, Weston, Florida

Dentistry & Periodontology

|January/February 2022|Peer Reviewed

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Following are differential diagnoses, listed in order of likeliness, for dogs presented with oral ulceration.

  • Mechanical trauma from malpositioned dental hard tissue (dental malocclusion) 
  • Mechanical trauma from foreign body
  • Hyperimmune mucositis reaction to adjacent plaque
  • Mucocutaneous pyoderma 
  • Mechanical injury or trauma (eg, chewing on an electric cord)
  • Thermal injury
  • Chemical injury
  • Drug reaction (eg, methotrexate [shown to cause oral ulceration in humans])
  • Breed predisposition (eg, Cavalier King Charles spaniel) 
  • Viral infection (canine distemper virus)
  • Erythema multiforme 
  • Malignancy (eg, amelanotic melanoma, squamous cell carcinoma, fibrosarcoma, epitheliotropic lymphoma, melanoma, osteosarcoma) 
  • Uremia
  • Eosinophilic granuloma
  • Lupus erythematosus (discoid, mucocutaneous) 
  • Pemphigus vulgaris or pemphigus foliaceus
  • Bullous pemphigoid or mucous membrane pemphigoid
  • Candidiasis 
  • Leptospira spp infection
  • Chemotherapy or radiation therapy


For global readers, a calculator to convert laboratory values, dosages, and other measurements to SI units can be found here.

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