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Dr. Deb
Dr. Deb, Dog Veterinarian
Category: Dog
Satisfied Customers: 10861
Experience:  I have been a practicing veterinarian for over 30 years.
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My 10/11 year old (rescue dog so age indeterminate) has developed

Customer Question

My 10/11 year old (rescue dog so age indeterminate) has developed black gums around his left side canine tooth and also on the inside of his upper lip. could this be cancer?
Submitted: 4 years ago.
Category: Dog
Expert:  Dr. Deb replied 4 years ago.

Hello John, I'm Dr. Deb.

I recently came online and see that your question about Rocky hasn't been answered. I'm sorry that you've had to wait for a response but if you still need assistance, I'd like to help if I can.

If the black area on the gums and upper lip is flat (not at all raised), then this is most likely normal pigment and nothing at all to worry about. It's common for older dogs to experience changes such as this as part of the aging process.

However, if the black areas are raised, then this may be more of a concern, given his age. Oral melanoma can develop in dogs; these lesions are usually black although there are other cancers which can develop in the mouth as well. But, having said that, not all masses in the mouth are malignant; there can be benign ones, too.
Sometimes, it's not possible to distinguish between the two based on visualization alone; often, we recommend surgical removal and biopsy so we know what we're dealing with.

It might be helpful in this situation if you could send me a picture of Rocky's mouth, if possible. Just click on the paperclip or tree icon in the toolbar, browse your computer and select the picture. This isn't always the easiest thing to do on this site, though, so you might want to post to an independent website such as Photobucket (which is free) and send me the URL link.

I hope this helps; again, my apologies for the delayed response. Deb

Customer: replied 4 years ago.

the url for the photos is and the photos are under rocky's gum 20/12/2013

Expert:  Dr. Deb replied 4 years ago.



Sorry, I took so long to respond back to you but I've been off my computer until just now.
Thanks for trying to send the picture to me but when I browse either "Rocky's gum" or "rocky's gum 20/12/2013", I don't link to any pictures. There were over 20,000 pictures when I browsed "Rocky" but, unfortunately, I didn't have time to browse through all of those:(

Have you perhaps chosen a private setting and only friends/family can view them?


I have to work this afternoon at a vet hospital so I may not be able to respond back in as timely a fashion as I would like but I will as soon as I hear back from you.