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Featuring Demian Dressler, DVM and Sue Ettinger, DVM, Dip. ACVIM (Oncology), authors of The Dog Cancer Survival Guide

Laser Surgery For Oral Cancer in Dogs

Updated: May 6th, 2019

When a dog lover is contemplating a surgery to remove a canine cancer, we should remember there are different ways to do surgeries.

Depending on the way the surgery is done, certain things can be improved upon that would otherwise make recovery harder.

Some of these are:

  • pain
  • blood loss
  • swelling

One of the challenges when a vet faces when removing a tumor in the mouth, or some other areas, is bleeding.

Blood less makes recovery tougher on the dog.  Bleeding also tends to block the view of the surgeon, since the nurse is always having to dab the site and sponge off the blood.  This slows the procedure down and the dog has to be anesthetized for a longer duration.

There are different ways to control blood loss.  The most common is “tying off” a bleeding vessel using a piece of suture material.  Sometimes we simply use a small instrument to clamp the bleeding vessel to make it stop hemorrhaging.

The mouth is an area that is difficult to control blood loss using these traditional techniques. The clamps fall off and the bleeders are hard to tie off.

This is where the surgical laser comes in.  A laser is simply a high-intensity beam of energy that can be used in surgery to separate tissue.  The great thing about the laser is that is seals off the ends of small blood vessels.  This stops a lot of the blood loss that can affect our dogs when they faced with a surgery like this.

For more useful information and tools, get a copy of the Dog Cancer Survival Guide

The laser seals of nerves and lymphatics too.  This tends to decrease pain and swelling too, but I always recommend medication for pain and inflammation, regardless.

So consider the use of a surgical laser, especially if there is a growth that needs to be removed in an area like the mouth. Common tumors in this area are melanomas, fibrosarcomas, squamous cell carcinomas, and different types of epuli (an epulis one of a group of mouth tumors).

There are a fair number of veterinarians that use this tool, including myself, and it really helps make things easier on our loved dogs.

Best to all,

Dr. D

Leave a Comment

  1. Vivian on August 16, 2023 at 3:40 am

    Our 9 yr old mini labradoodle was dx with oral cancer. He has terrible mouth odor. He is still eating and going out. My understanding is that the tumor is on one side of his mouth and crosses his palate to the other side. Would u recommend bringing him in to see you. Thanks Vivian Lynch

  2. Sherri on May 29, 2023 at 3:32 am

    Hi have my baby Bandit, he is an English pointer he is 12 he is my angel he has been suffering with mouth cancer for over a year we have had three surgeries and it unfortunately it just grew back again and the vet said he will not perform anymore surgery due to the bleeding it was too much the last time I don’t know what to do I’m not sure where you’re located I don’t know if you have a facility in Monmouth county New Jersey and I was wondering about the laser if it gets rid of tumors we can laser it out or I’m not sure how it works we could please send me some information and where you’re located thank you.

  3. Karen L Sellers on October 22, 2021 at 9:21 am

    Thank you for all the wonderful info on the use of lasers to treat oral cancer. I don’t suppose you could give me a roundabout figure for the cost of the procedure. My therapy dog is sick with oral cancer. I live in San Antonio, Texas, do you know of a clinic in this area?

    • Molly Jacobson on October 24, 2021 at 12:52 pm

      Hi Karen,

      You can use this website to find practices that have the necessary equipment and they can tell you what the charges might be:

      Thank you!

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