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Old 05-09-2010, 11:41 AM   #1 (permalink)
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Default Gingival Hyperplasia

I am new to the forum and do not own Boxers, but have been doing some research on gingival hyperplasia and have learned that this is a common condition in the Boxer breed. I was hoping to draw on your wisdom, and perhaps get some advice on my own situation.

I have a 9 year old Australian Shepherd that has severe gingival hyperplasia. The condition first manifested as small cauliflower like growths behind her canines around a year old. These grew somewhat slowly until a few years ago, when the growth spread in size and area. She now has growth completely surrounding her teeth on both sides, with the front and roof of her mouth remaining smooth, and the cauliflower like masses nearly covering her molars. Her top lips are permanently pushed up by the excess tissue, as is her nose, and the growth on the roof of her mouth may soon make it difficult for her to swallow. She has lost all of her front teeth, with excessive bleeding leading up to the loss of each tooth. Although I try to keep her mouth clean, the smell does prevent her from being with the family at times.

We have been to several of the best vets in our area, but none of them have ever encountered this condition, nor are they willing or able to offer treatment options. In my research, I have found that surgery may be an option, although the growth will likely return in time. In Sadie's case, because I now consider this to be life-threatening, I am trying to decide whether to pursue this as an option. I would be willing to travel to meet with a veterinary dental specialist (this would be a minimum 4 hour trip, each way); but before I try this, I was hoping to find others that could share their experience with this condition, either with or without surgery. I have not even been able to find a vet willing to do a standard dental cleaning on Saide becuase of the condition.

As terrible as it sounds, if tissue removal is not a viable option for Sadie, I've considered consulting with the vet to see if they could surgically split her lips, so that they could lie more naturally. I wonder if this would help the bleeding, as she often scrapes or bumps the exposed tissue on things around the house and causes bleeding.

I'm posting photos, so that you can see the extent of her growth. The first photo was taken in 2004, when she was 3 years old, and shows the shape of her mouth before the extreme growth. The second and third photos were taken in April 2009. The growth is much worse now than in these photos (you can see that she still has some of her front teeth in these photos-she had lost them all by June), but this will give you an idea of how much tissue would have to be removed. I have not been able to get any photos showing the growth on the roof of her mouth.

If you have experience with this condition, can you tell me the severity of your dog's GH, compared with Sadie's? Did you treat the condition surgically, and if so, do you consider it to have been worth it? How quickly did regrowth occur, and did the tissue grow more rapidly after removal? If you did not opt for surgery, were you able to find any solutions to help ease discomfort or reduce swelling?

Thank you all so much for any help you can offer.
Attached Thumbnails
Gingival Hyperplasia-2004-base-line.jpg   Gingival Hyperplasia-may-2009.jpg   Gingival Hyperplasia-may-2009-2.jpg  

Last edited by seachainanmadra; 05-09-2010 at 11:43 AM. Reason: correcting a grammatical error
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Old 05-09-2010, 07:44 PM   #2 (permalink)
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Oh, my, I'm so sorry I can't offer any help, but I just want to say good luck with her. The poor baby, I hope you can get some answers and help here. May I ask where you are located? That may help with people offering help or referrals to vets.
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Old 05-09-2010, 08:09 PM   #3 (permalink)
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Oh poor sweetheart. Was Sadie under some kind of seizure medication such as Dilantin? There are cases of humans developing gingival hyperplasia under this medication. Or was anyone in your household taking it and Sadie got into it or was exposed to it some way? Just food for thought... Good luck and keep us posted.
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Old 05-09-2010, 11:42 PM   #4 (permalink)
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OMG !!!!! I have never heard of this being a "common" disease in boxers. In fact I have never seen anything like this in my life. I thought the pictures were photoshoped or something at first...ummm...good luck to you. I hope you find the help you are looking for.
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Old 05-10-2010, 07:15 AM   #5 (permalink)
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My last boxer had a very mild case (compared to your dog)...just lil growth here and there...yours is extreme

Mine were growing from between the teeth and the gums.
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Old 05-10-2010, 07:27 AM   #6 (permalink)
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My last boxer, Buster, had a moderate case of Gingival Hyperplasia, and yes it can be common in boxers. I was advised by the vet that unless the growths interfered with his eating, to leave them. And yes, I was also told that although they could remove them, chances are they would come back. As to your dog, I would definitely have them removed since they are affecting her quality of life.

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Old 05-10-2010, 08:35 PM   #7 (permalink)
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Thank you for your kind replies. Sadie has never been on any medication, other than the standard heartworm preventive. Her condition, I'm sure, is genetic - she's a puppy mill special and her mother had a level bite (this is a DQ in the breed ring-Aussies should have a scissors bite), which tells me that there are some dental imperfections in the line. At six months, we could tell something was wrong, as her front teeth had appx. 1/4" gaps between each.

We're located in south central Kansas. I made some calls today and located a veterinary dental specialist in Kansas City. I'm going to email them photos for a first impression, but given the distance (4 hour drive, one way) and amount of tissue that would have to be removed, we're really concerned that she would require more hospitalization and follow up care than we could access. I'd still love to hear from anyone with post-surgical experience, as I am really concerned that the stress of surgery and (I imagine) long recovery time might not be the best thing for her.
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Old 05-11-2010, 07:32 AM   #8 (permalink)
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My male boxer had a very mild case of gingival hyperplasia. It was covering in his lower incisor teeth, but not his back teeth. We chose to have the resection surgery because we feared what it would do to his health if we didn't address it. The specialist told us that bacteria and a lot of what we don't want to know about gets trapped in the gums and all this filters through the kidneys and liver. It's not life threatening, but we felt it was better to address the condition.

I don't know how far you are from MIZZOU, but that is where we took our boxer for the surgery.
University of Missouri - Veterinary Medical Teaching Hospital
MIZZOU is a 2 hour drive for us, but it is one of the best teaching schools in the country. The treatment was not cheap. For mild gingival hyperplasia resection surgery, x-rays, 3 pulled incisor teeth(he was born with too many teeth), and periodontal cleaning, we spent a little over $1100. It was a long day of surgery. Good Luck!
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Old 05-11-2010, 07:39 AM   #9 (permalink)
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Originally Posted by seachainanmadra View Post
I'd still love to hear from anyone with post-surgical experience, as I am really concerned that the stress of surgery and (I imagine) long recovery time might not be the best thing for her.

Sorry, I just read this. Post surgery was not as bad as you would think. The first day was rough but he was given narcotic pain killers and he seemed fine. I kept the pain killers in every 6 hours. He was given Tramadol and Tylenol combined. He slept a lot the first 2 days. He ate the next day (soft food for 14 days post surgery). He had stitches that dissolved where they pulled 3 incisor teeth. I stopped the pain killers after 4 days because he was much better by then. My boxer is 8 1/2 years old and the vet told us his blood pressure held perfect through the entire procedure and lost 1cc of blood.

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