Salivary Mucocele in Dogs
Are more commonly known as salivary cysts and are quite common but should never be ignored

Salivary mucocele in dogs in most cases are not very painful, but they should never be overlooked, as they can become very serious.

Some of the forms can eventually cause pain and affect your dog’s jaws and mouth, making it very difficult for them to chew.

If they become infected, they can also cause your dog to produce bloody saliva.

However, there are some forms of this condition that may make it very difficult for your dog to swallow or breathe.

One form may affect their eyes and cause them to swell and even loosen the eye from their socket.

If they are not treated, they can become severely infected.


Salivary mucocele in dogs, also known as salivary cysts, is a condition where your dog’s saliva starts to leak as the result of a damaged salivary gland or duct.

It then starts to collect in the tissue that surrounds them.

In most all cases, it is believed to be caused by some type of trauma, but unless you see it happen, this cause is very difficult to prove.

It may also be the result of an excessive mucus buildup.

Also described as an oral mucocele, they are a form of swelling of the connective tissues that consist of collected mucus that is collected as the result of a ruptured salivary gland duct.

In most cases this is usually caused by some type of a trauma.

But there is another form that is referred to as an extra-vasation phenomenon, where there is an obstruction of the salivary duct that will develop into a mucus retention cyst.

Either form will be a bluish translucent color and is considered a polyp or a cyst.

The most common form is located on the surface of the lower lip, although they are also very common inside of the cheek in your dog.

If they are found on the floor of the mouth, they are than referred to as a ranula.


Salivary mucocele in dogsSalivary mucocele in dogs in most cases will require surgury

There are several types of salivary mucocele in dogs and they include: Cervical, Ranula, Pharyngeal, and Zygomatic mucoceles.

The most common form is cervical that causes a soft, but usually painless swelling, and is located near the affected salivary gland.

The only symptom that this form will show will be slight swelling under the rear portion of the jaw other than the cyst itself.

If it is located under your dog’s tongue or the floor of their mouth, it is than called a ranula.

This type of salivary mucocele in your dog presents a swelling that helped formulate its name, which means frog in Latin, as the swelling itself looks like the underbelly of a frog.

It will have the same bluish color unless it is deeper, where it will be a natural color matching the skin tone.

If it is large enough, this salivary mucocele in dogs interferes in the chewing process and as a result it may start to bleed, producing blood in your pets saliva.

If it is located deep in their mouth, it is than called a plugging or cervical ranula, where it can produce swelling in the neck with or without swelling in the floor of the mouth.

If it does swell, it may elevate your dog’s tongue, making it very difficult to swallow.

However, this form has a very mystifying attribute that also simulates a frogs stomach; it often fluctuates in size and may shrink and then swell several times.

The next type of a salivary mucocele in dogs is called a pharyngeal mucocele, and this form takes on more of the attributes of an abscess rather than a cyst.

It can cause a very definitive swelling in the back of your dog’s mouth, making it difficult for them to breathe normally.

It also causes a difficulty in swallowing, as well as one of the most chilling sounds in your dog; coughing.

This is the result of the collection of saliva in the wall of the back of their mouth that becomes large enough that it actually interferes with their airway passages, causing the cough.

If they break open, they will also cause blood tinged saliva to ooze out of their mouth. Combined with the coughing, it now looks like a very serious threat to your dog.

The final type of salivary mucocele in dogs is the zygomatic mucocele, and this gets its name from its location to the zygomatic salivary gland that is both behind and under your dog’s eyes.

This form can cause swelling in the eye, or it is large enough, it may cause the bulging of the eye completely out of its socket.


Salivary mucocele in dogs does have several treatments, but the only treatment that has shown to be successful over time is surgery.

Some veterinarians may try to lance or drain the mucocele, and in most cases they may recede, only to have the hole that this creates after it is sealed swell up again.

Both the ranula and pharyngeal forms are best treated by marsupialization, which is the conversion of the closed cavity into the open pouch, which forms a permanent large opening.

This is done by suturing the walls of the mucocele to the surface of the under portion of either the tongue or the back of the mouth.

This allows for any future leakage of saliva to drain directly into your dog’s mouth without creating any type of swelling to occur.

In most cases, once the swelling starts to reduce in size, so does the size of this permanent opening.

The cervical forms of the mucocele is most successfully treated when the entire mandibular salivary gland and its duct is removed.

In all cases, antibiotics will be used with or without infection, as the mouth is one of the most fertile areas for potential infection.


Salivary mucocele in dogs in most all cases can successfully be treated with surgery, but there are some things that you will have to watch for once your dog has returned back home.

Watch your dog very close for any signs of a difficulty in chewing or swallowing.

However, if they have any type of a difficulty in breathing or still cough at all, immediately notify your veterinarian.

There may be some post-surgical signs that will occur such as a redness or drainage around the incision area, but this will be normal.

What will not be normal will be the re-occurrence of swelling or bloody saliva.

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