My Sheena, a street rescue at 3.5 years old, has yearly checkups at the vet. I had her teeth cleaned professionally at 3.5 years, 6 years and then at 12.25 years young under isoflurane gas anesthesia only. I brushed her teeth sometimes but found getting to her back teeth were difficult. I would check for teeth movement with my fingers to check for anything cracked.
Then on her last checkup this past year, I decided to do her dental cleaning even though she had minimal tartar. The vet found a mass at the very base of her tongue, removed it, biopsied and it was discovered to be Oral Melanoma, as well as a cracked tooth at the very back on the inside neither of which could be detected by only visual or manual inspection. Sheena’s only symptoms were less activity and uninterested in greeting me at the door, with some weakness in her hind legs, needing assistance to stand which I thought was a result of her arthritis or the tick bite she had gotten 1.5 years earlier. No bad breadth, had no problems eating anything, however, I do feed her mostly organic wet food, she also ate a raw diet for about one year and I would occasionally buy a raw meat bone for her to chew on which several vets advised that I shouldn’t give those since it could crack her teeth and would wear them down, so I stopped giving those about 3 years ago. Her treats are organic dehydrated chicken, turkey or duck jerky and grain-free salmon sticks, also Blue Buffalo Wilderness Salmon grain-free biscuits are the only biscuits she will eat. (She always had picky tastes.)
I cannot stress enough the importance of professional dental cleanings, especially with chow-chows or any other dog with high melanin pigmentation on their tongues or skin, especially when they get to adulthood. Only under anesthesia would this melanoma been caught as far back in the tongue as it was and I wouldn’t have had a chance to extend Sheena’s life.
Luckily I caught Sheena at Stage 1 of the Oral Lingual Melanoma, had another surgery to get as clean a margin on the melanoma as possible, took her to an oncologist and Sheena is on the Melanoma Tyrosinase Vaccine program to slow the growth of the malignancy. I hope that I can extend her quality of life for at least 2 more years. For more info go to “Sheena’s Oral Melanoma - No Metastasis! YAY.” viewtopic.php?f=2&t=20457#.UsnFCtJDsa4
Sheena is doing well, hops like a bunny to greet me and sniffs bags to see if I brought home any goodies and is back to the demanding poochie that she is. She has less weakness in her hind legs, can get up by herself now and the neurologist states the problem with her hind paw is neurological so I sometimes need to turn her paw so she can push herself up.
I never knew about oral melanoma being common in chow-chows and being 30-40% most common tumors in diagnosed tumors in a canines mouth. Average age is 11 years but then some chows have gotten it at 9 years.
Much health and early discovery of any problems in your chow-chow(s).