Last May was a crazy time. Parker’s eye started the downward spiral that lead to it being removed, and at one of Parker’s routine vet visits we found a swelling in his mouth. I immediately had flashbacks to Jack and his oral cancer. His doctor had an idea of what it is, but we sent off a fine needle aspirate (slides of cells taken from the cyst) just in case to make sure it wasn’t a tumor.
Thankfully it wasn’t. It is a ranula, a type of salivary mucocele. Basically a cyst of his sublingual (under his tongue) salivary gland. As the name implies, salivary glands are responsible for the production of saliva. There are several sets of them under the skin in the upper and lower jaw that are constantly producing saliva. The saliva then makes its way into the mouth through very small ducts from the glands, under the skin then opening in the cavity of the mouth.
What causes ranulas? Generally they’re caused by trauma or obstruction of the salivary ducts which causes the saliva to leak from the duct into the nearby tissues in the mouth, causing the swelling you see in in the photos. What caused Parker’s? Not sure!
When we first found Parker’s ranula it was relatively small and he didn’t seem to notice it. We were much more concerned with everything going on with his eye, so we decided not to mess with his ranula as long as it wasn’t bothering him.
Lately it has gotten larger. During Parker’s dental in January we tried to drain the fluid out of it, but there was nothing to drain.
Most likely it has become scarred on the inside, so that plus the saliva leaking out has caused it to get larger and stay that way.
While the ranula isn’t hurting Parker, it is definitely annoying him. He holds his tongue to the right as it is being pushed over. He takes a longer time drinking. The most concerning- he started snoring loudly when he sleeps. While it is funny, it’s definitely concerning as it could mean the ranula is obstructing his airway.
This Friday Parker is having surgery to remove the ranula. The same great doctor who removed his eye is going to do the surgery. Thankfully it’s a relatively easy salivary gland to remove compared to the others. Finally Parker has something relatively easy!
Most likely he’ll stay at the hospital Friday night and come home Saturday. He may have to wear a cone for a few weeks while his mouth heals. Thankfully he already eats soft food so his diet won’t have to change! Removal is curative so his mouth should be back to normal quickly!