We have encountered quite a few salivary gland cysts over the years, usually in the salivary gland under the tongue (sublingual), on the floor of the oral cavity. This type is called a ranula or ‘honey cyst.’ The ranula presents itself as a relatively large, smooth-surfaced swelling under the tongue. One does not notice the development of the fluctuating mass until it is so big that it is pushing the tongue to one side. Salivary cysts develop slowly and are not painful. By the time a cyst reaches a size that you can actually see it, great discomfort would have been created. The animal might even go off its food or, when eating, food clumps tend to drop out of the mouth.

Often, the first sign is a fluctuant mass (not accompanied with redness) under the tongue. Sometimes when pressure is applied to the cyst, a viscid, odourless, grey or brownish fluid may exude from the ducts at or on both sides below the tongue, or opposite the upper fourth premolar, depending upon which gland is involved.

On some occasions, the ranula can burst and we may see some bleeding; then, for the first time, we know that something is wrong. The ranula must not be confused with an abscess or a cancerous tumour (see TPC-next week). Sometimes the cyst can become infected, then pain and usually a fever will accompany the infection.

Let me make a special note: Cysts usually are not accompanied by redness (inflammation) and /or fever. Consequently, any swelling must be differentiated from abscesses, tumours and other types of cysts. Tumors are usually firmer and slower growing than a cyst.

One can prick the cyst and withdraw the thick honey coloured fluid (that’s why it’s also called ‘honey cyst’). On many occasions, this intervention suffices. If it recurs, then we have no other option than to surgically excise the damaged or infected gland.

Please implement disease preventative measures (vaccinations, routine dewormings, monthly anti-heartworm medication, etc) and adopt-a-pet from the GSPCA’s Animal Clinic and Shelter at Robb Street and Orange Walk, if you have the wherewithal to care well for the animals.  Do not stray your unwanted pets, take them to the GSPCA’s Clinic and Shelter instead. If you do not wish your pet to have puppies or kittens, you may exploit the GSPCA’s free spay and neutering programme. If you see anyone being cruel to an animal, or if you need any technical information, please get in touch with the Clinic and Shelter by calling 226-4237.

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