The oral cavity is the fourth most common site of cancer in the dog. Malignant melanoma is the most common malignant oral tumor comprising 30 to 40% of all oral cancer. Oral melanoma is significantly more common in Poodles, Scottish Terriers, Dachshunds, Cocker Spaniels and large breed dogs with a pigmented mouth such as the Chow Chow.
Oral melanomas are often diagnosed late in the course of disease with the presence of local, regional or distant spread of cancer (metastasis) at presentation. Early diagnosis is an important key to finding an effective therapy. Therefore, it is important to look inside your dog’s mouth regularly. Even a brief exam by lifting up the lips and looking at the back teeth each month may allow you to find these masses earlier. If you notice any swellings or masses in your pet’s mouth, bleeding from the mouth or a foul odor to the breath contact your veterinarian immediately. Below is a picture of a non-pigmented oral melanoma in the right upper jaw of a dog. While many melanomas are black in color, some have little to no black pigment.