Dog: Epulis

General information

Other common/scientific names: oral tumor

An epulis is a firm mass involving the gingival (gum) tissue in the dog. They are benign tumors generally found in dogs over six years of age. These tumors originate from the periodontal ligament which holds the tooth in the bony socket of the jawbone. There are three types of epuli:

  • Fibromatous epuli grow from the gum covering diseased or deformed teeth.
  • Ossifying epuli contain both fibrous tissue and bone.
  • Acanthomatous epuli are more aggressive and invade surrounding soft tissue and bone.


There is no known cause of an epulis.

Cardinal symptom

Oral Tumor


Epuli are slow growing, often pedunculated (on a stalk or stem), pink, fleshy-colored tumors located on the gum line. Some tumors invade the tissue surrounding the teeth and actually displace the teeth. These more aggressive tumors can become infected and the dog has difficulty eating. Bad breath, bleeding from the mouth and weight loss are seen with the more invasive tumors.

Abb. GG1WAJQ2: Epulis.
This is a photograph of an ulcerated, bleeding epulis before surgical removal.


Epuli can be diagnosed from a physical examination. However, a biopsy of the mass should be taken to distinguish it from other oral tumors. Radiographs of the mouth can reveal the extent of erosion into the jawbone.


For the fibromatous and ossifying epuli, surgical excision is usually curative. Because of the aggressiveness of acanthomatous epuli, a wide excision of the tumor is necessary and may involve removing teeth and part of the upper or lower jawbone. Radiation therapy is also used in tumors that are inoperable or recur.


The prognosis will depend on the type, location, size and ability to remove the epulis. Small epuli without bone involvement have a better prognosis than the larger, invasive tumors.


After oral surgery, a diet of soft food is recommended until the incision has healed.

Update version: 4/24/2014, © Copyright by
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