A lot of what was said last week during the discussion of genuine lip infections would be valid for this ailment as well. For example, LFP cases seem to hit those breeds with droopy, sagging lower lips, like the St Bernard (the dog in the Beethoven movie), the Cocker Spaniel, the Boxer, and those huge monstrous dogs which starred in Cujo and Turner and Hooch.
I think what really happens is that the lips too often rub against the canine teeth from the upper jaw. This constant friction creates an irritation and an inflammatory condition in which germs can flourish.
Of course, such skin folds can trap particles of food and blobs of fluid which are also conducive to bacterial growth. I don’t have to tell you how such lips give off a foul odour. In fact, that’s why the owners seek veterinary attention for their pets in the first instance. They complain that there is a foul odour coming from their pet’s mouth.
Preventatively, one can clean the lips with a germicidal solution two or three times weekly. I know that modern text books don’t advise the use of hydrogen peroxide, but ancient vets like me swear by this chemical as a cleansing agent.
If the situation recurs as soon as the prescribed medication is discontinued, you may wish to discuss with your vet the possibility of cosmetic surgery to remove the folds in which food, fluid and bacteria are trapped.
Lip and tongue wounds
Dogs and cats do things with their lips and tongues which almost ensure that lacerations are a common sequel.
Puppies, inquisitive as they are, will go after tins cans which have sharp edges or balls of thread/wool which have needles in them. Hairy worms or stinging insects seem to hold a special attraction for young dogs and cats. The result could be severe wounds with much bleeding, even life threatening conditions (eg anaphylactic shocks from the insect bites).
On the odd occasion, dogs can actually do damage to their own tongues and lips by biting themselves. I have experienced, on several occasions, dogs impaling their lips on their own canine teeth. On the odd occasion, a very inexperienced dog/cat might do itself great damage to its lip and /or tongue by too closely investigating containers with acids or strong alkalis (eg caustic soda).
Cats, of course, are notorious for stealing food which is being fried or boiled on the stove. Severe burns to the tongue and lips can occur when hot pieces of meat are picked up this way.
Anchored in a cat’s genes may be the propensity to jump up on the table /stove and swipe food, irrespective of how well-fed the cat is. It seems that once there is open food available, it is a cat’s mission in life to attempt to steal it. As an aside, I should mention an interesting observation made by my wife. She argues that a cat is a compulsive thief by nature. As a veterinarian I would need scientific proof (born of intensive research and documented by experts) before agreeing with my acknowledged better half whose proclivity for practicality is legendary. Tongue-in-cheek, I tend to agree with her, though.
Another source of lip and tongue damage is electrical burns. Both dogs and cats (especially when they are young) love to play with electric cords. The first zap usually hits the lip or tongue and can create quite a bit of tissue damage, to say nothing of the pain. Although many cases heal on their own, others can develop into ulcers and create a lot of tissue erosion.
And then there is the activity of dog fighting — whether promoted and implemented by heinous humans, or by dogs/cats defending their territory from intruders (especially males).
In the case of acids/alkalis or any corrosive agent damaging the lip/tongue after contact, the pet owner’s immediate response should be to wash out the mouth. Use a sponge or wet cloth and try to remove the offending chemical. If the burning substance is an acid, you may wish to wash out the mouth with a solution of baking soda. If the burn comes from an alkali, you may rinse the mouth with some diluted vinegar or even orange juice. Extensive burns might need surgery to repair the tissue damage.
Any time bleeding is involved, you should place a ball of cotton wool (or cloth) on the wound and attempt to staunch the bleeding. If the cut is big, then there will be a need for veterinary involvement (anaesthetic, stitching, stopping the bleeding).
If the lesion on the lip is due to the dog biting its own self because the tooth is in the wrong place (malpositioned), then it may be necessary to remove the tooth (or at least file it down) to prevent any recurrence.
Lastly, any dog/cat with bruised/lacerated lips/tongues should be placed on a liquid diet (porridge, milk, thin soups etc). Bones and anything that the dog might be tempted to gnaw at during such ailments would be contraindicated (a big “NO”).
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.