The Royal (Dick) School of Veterinary Studies
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Skin lesions can be linked to dental disease in dogs

Referral cases highlight underlying simple dental problems as cause of skin conditions.

Vets have highlighted a series of cases in which apparent skin conditions in dogs were caused by underlying dental disease.

In each of three separate cases referred to the Royal (Dick) School of Veterinary Studies’ Hospital for Small Animals, a sore or growth on the skin near the eye was found to be linked to dental problems.

In all three cases, in West Highland white terriers, extraction of the affected teeth resolved the issue with no long-term problems.

Vets say a dental exam and X-ray or CT scan is important in such cases to diagnose or exclude the possibility of dental disease as the source of the skin sores or swellings near the eyes, known as periorbital odontogenic cutaneous fistulae, in dogs.

In such cases, extraction or root canal treatment is likely to lead to excellent outcomes.

Case studies

Surgery specialists at the Dick Vet treated three separate cases referred from different vet practices. All involved Westies, which are prone to dental disease.

One involved an eight-year-old female Westie with a facial swelling which had failed to respond to antibiotic treatment. A CT scan revealed bone loss and a tooth root abscess, which was resolved with extraction of two teeth.

A second case involved a nine-year old female Westie with a swelling near its right eye. The animal had undergone antibiotic treatment and surgery of its wound under anaesthetic, without resolution. An oral examination and CT scan revealed dental issues which vets were able to address by extracting a tooth.

In the third case, an 11-year-old female Westie had a swelling close to the left eye which had been treated with antibiotics without success. Tests including an X-ray indicated a fractured tooth, which was extracted.

All three patients recovered well.

The study was published in Vet Record Case Reports.  

These three cases highlight that dental issues may manifest externally – however, this is not well documented and so these instances may be suspected to be dermatological or cancerous cases. A thorough oral exam and, if needed, an X-ray are vital in such cases and should be sufficient to highlight the presence of any dental problem, potentially saving animals from misdiagnoses and inappropriate treatment, saving owners stress, time and money.

Ian FauxLecturer in Small Animal Surgery, Hospital for Small Animals

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About the Royal (Dick) School of Veterinary Studies

The Royal (Dick) School of Veterinary Studies is a one-of-a-kind centre of excellence in clinical activity, teaching and research. Our purpose-built campus, set against the backdrop of the beautiful Pentland Hills Regional Park, is home to more than 800 staff and almost 1400 students, all of whom contribute to our exceptional community ethos.

The School comprises:

The Roslin Institute

The Global Academy of Agriculture and Food Systems

The Roslin Innovation Centre

The Hospital for Small Animals

Equine Veterinary Services

Farm Animal Services

Easter Bush Pathology

The Jeanne Marchig International Centre for Animal Welfare Education

We represent the largest concentration of animal science-related expertise in Europe, impacting local, regional, national and international communities in terms of economic growth, the provision of clinical services and the advancement of scientific knowledge.