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8-Year-Old Shih Tzu With Swollen Mouth

August 24, 2014


Little Shih Tzu has a Lump

Mei Mei wagged her stubby scrubby black and white tail. A tiny fur matt dangled off the end like a tail earring. Mei Mei stamped her front paws as if to say, “Give me a cookie!” Doc Truli laughed and felt the little Shih Tzu’s submandibular lymph nodes.

Mei Mei’s mom said, “Her face has been swollen for a few weeks. We know her teeth are bad We figured it’s a tooth root abscess. We really don’t want to put her through surgery. We just want to try antibiotics.”

Before launching into the discussion about why antibiotics will never cure a tooth root abscess, Doc decided to examine little Mei Mei.

“Oh Nancy, antibiotics aren’t going to help this,” said Doc Truli

“What do you mean?” said Mei Mei’s human.

“The swelling is hard, non-painful and down on the bottom jaw away from the teeth. I’m concerned this might be cancer,” said Doc Truli.

Mei Mei sat down and looked expectantly at the treat jar. “you get a treat after your x-ray, little one,” said Doc.


We took one x-ray pf Mei Mei’s jaw. Usually, we need two views or more to get an idea of the shape and location of a lesion. But, when we suspect bone cancer, fungal infection in the bone, or severe infection, then sometimes one x-ray will show the extent of the problem.

Mei Mei’s jawbone did not look good.

The bone on their lower left jaw was completely gone. The premolars that normally live in that bone were just sitting in soft muck. Mei Mei really didn’t notice, but something very bad was growing in her face.

What to do about it?

1) Biopsy- obtain diagnosis
2) Possible surgical removal – if appropriate, depending on the exact diagnosis

What Would You Do If Your Dog had a Part of the Jawbone Eaten Away?

Many families face this difficult decision. If the solution to your pet’s problem will require removal of part of their jaw– in the best case scenario, do you proceed with the biopsy and the other diagnostics if you do not want to put your pet through a difficult, painful (and expensive) surgery?


2 Comments leave one →
  1. Ludie permalink
    September 6, 2014 6:41 pm

    What exactly wore away the jaw bone? Also what happened to this doggy?

    • September 7, 2014 1:06 am

      Exactly, chemical reactions from cancer caused her body to absorb the bone.

      She is comfortable and her family elected no treatment beyond mouth antiseptic.

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