Why Do Dogs Have a Bump on the Roof of Their Mouth? It could happen one day that your dog is lying down with his head on your lap and you notice a bump on the roof of your dog's mouth. What it that? You may therefore start worrying as wild thoughts of cancer and surgery to remove the growth cross your mind. You might have heard of how growths in a dog's mouth can be cancerous and perhaps you know of a friend whose dog had a malignant melanoma in the mouth. While it's always best to have any suspicious lump or bump on a dog's mouth checked by a vet, there is one little hard lump in the roof of a dog's mouth that is actually perfectly normal.
Introducing the Incisive Papilla
In a normal, healthy dog, there's a little lump that's located on the roof of the dog's mouth right behind the top two middle teeth. Some describe it as being diamond-shaped and hard to the touch. This bump goes by the name of "incisive papilla," and it ranks as one of the top reason dog owners make a panic appointment to their vet, explains veterinarian Dr. Truli on his website VirtuaVet. As the name implies, the term incisive in this case refers to the fact that it's located right behind the dog's top central incisor teeth; whereas, the term papilla is just a simple name for a little lump. You can see a picture of what an incisive papilla looks like by clicking on this picture: incisive papilla in dog.
An intriguing Purpose
So why does a dog need an incisive papilla? Turns out, this little bump has a small cavity leading to the incisive duct which connects the mouth with the nose. The incisive papilla therefore communicates with the dog's vomeronasal organ which is responsible for detecting pheromones, naturally occurring substances that impact the behavior of the receiver. Once pheromones are detected, the information is sent to the brain where it can trigger an emotional reaction or other physiological response.
Signs of Trouble
While the incisive papilla normally just sits there and rarely causes any problems, there are some cases that may require veterinary attention. For instance, according to Animal Dentistry and Oral Surgery Specialists LLC, should a dog have a malocclusion where the lower teeth end up puncturing the roof of the mouth, the incisive papilla may swell. Therefore, it's not a bad idea to routinely inspect your dog's mouth and get familiar with its normal appearance. A good way to do this is when you brush your dog's teeth. And obviously, have your dog see your vet if there appears to be any odd looking lumps or bumps in your dog's mouth.
Did you know? While dogs do not exhibit the typical lip curl known ("flehem") seen often in horses, deer and goats, they have their own modified version. According to the book "Behavior Problems of the Dog and Cat by Gary M. Landsberg, Wayne L. Hunthausen and Lowell J. Ackerman, in dogs, flicking the tongue against the incisive papilla, (tonguing) along with panting, are behaviors that may likely help them detect pheromones. Tonguing may be accompanied by teeth chattering and production of foam.