Dogs with Sialocele

A dog with his tongue out

The condition of the salivary glands or ducts is known as sialocele. Swollen tissues in the neck around the jaw, under the tongue, or near the eye indicate the disease. In dogs, it's an accumulation of saliva that looks like a cyst and is generally cured with surgery.

What is a Sialocele?

Due to leaking, a sialocele is a buildup of saliva in the tissues around a salivary gland or duct. Salivary mucoceles and salivary cysts are other names for sialoceles. Although not technically a cyst, the fluid buildup generates a bloated formation that looks like one. They're soft, fluid-filled, and painless in general. Sialoceles are the most prevalent form of salivary issue found in dogs, notwithstanding their rarity.

Symptoms of Sialoceles in Dogs

Sialoceles can affect various glands or associated ducts. Here are the four types of sialoceles:

  • Cervical
  • Sublingual
  • Zygomatic
  • Pharyngeal

Sialoceles do not produce discomfort until they have grown large enough to push against another part of the body. Symptoms vary depending on the kind of sialocele.


  • Swelling of the neck under the jaw
  • Swelling under the tongue
  • Swelling near the eye (rare)
  • Trouble eating, swallowing, or breathing

Swelling of the Neck/Jaw (Cervical)

The most frequent variety of sialocele is a cervical one, which arises from the sublingual or mandibular gland or duct and develops under the upper neck or jaw. Swelling can happen in the centre of the neck/jaw or on one side.

Swelling Under the Tongue (Sublingual)

Another type of sialocele is one that develops under the tongue and is caused by the submandibular gland or duct. The sialocele can be in the middle or on one side, and if large enough, it can displace the tongue. A sublingual or ranula sialocele is the name for this form of sialocele.

Swelling Near the Eye (Zygomatic)

In rare cases, a sialocele develops from the small zygomatic salivary glands located beneath the eye. Facial swelling may appear near the eye and it may cause the eye to bulge.

Trouble Eating, Swallowing, or Breathing (Pharyngeal)

A pharyngeal sialocele is a kind of pharyngeal sialocele that occurs at the back of the throat. Because it arises from the mandibular or submandibular glands or ducts, it is comparable to a cervical sialocele. Sucking and breathing can be affected by pharyngeal sialoceles.

Causes of Sialoceles

The exact cause of sialoceles is not known, but they are likely caused by traumatic injuries to the tissues of the salivary glands and ducts. Here are the three likely causes:

  • Oral injury from chewing on an object
  • Bite wounds from another animal
  • Choke collar injury from pulling

Sialoceles can afflict any dog breed, although German shepherds, dachshunds, poodles, and Australian silky terriers are the most commonly affected.

Diagnosing Sialoceles in Dogs

After discussing your pet's history, your veterinarian will perform a physical examination and look closely at the swollen area. Here are the two phases of diagnosis:

  • Aspiration: Your vet may want to aspirate the area with a needle and syringe to collect the fluid for testing. Your dog may need sedation for this depending on the location.
  • Lab Analysis: The fluid from a sialocele is generally clear, yellowish, or blood-tinged in color and slightly viscous like saliva. Your vet may be able to see right away that it is saliva, but will likely send the fluid to a lab for analysis to be certain. A veterinary pathologist will analyze the fluid to determine what kinds of cells are present and confirm whether or not the swelling is a sialocele. This analysis can also rule out infections, , and other potential causes for the swelling.


Sialoceles can develop infected and abscessed if not treated. If you observe any odd swelling in your mouth, neck, jaw, or eye, contact your veterinarian. Sialoceles are usually treated with draining and subsequently surgery. Here are the two therapy options:

  • Draining: In some cases, a sialocele can be drained to offer temporary relief until surgery can be performed. Most sialoceles will eventually recur after being drained. Continued draining is not recommended as it can lead to inflammation or infection.
  • Surgery: Definitive treatment of sialoceles involves surgical removal of the affected salivary glands and associated ducts. This is a delicate procedure that is typically performed by a board-certified veterinary surgeon. Drains may be temporarily placed at the surgical site to prevent new fluid accumulation.

Prognosis for Dogs With Sialoceles

With modest home care, most dogs recover quickly following salivary gland removal surgery, and problems are uncommon. Follow your veterinarian's post-operative care instructions. Give drugs exactly as prescribed. Clean and dry the incision, drain sites, and any bandages. Return to the veterinarian for any required follow-up appointments.

How to Prevent Sialoceles

Sialoceles are rare, but dog owners can still take steps to prevent injuries that may lead to sialoceles. Here are a few ways to keep your dog healthy:

  • Avoid using choke on your dog.
  • Train your dog to walk on a to prevent injuries from pulling.
  • Supervise your dog when gnawing on and toys,
  • Keep your dog from chewing on sticks or other foreign objects.

Contact your veterinarian if you notice an injury to your dog's mouth or neck. Treatment of a fresh injury may prevent the development of a sialocele.

If you suspect your pet is sick, call your vet immediately. For health-related questions, always consult your veterinarian, as they have examined your pet, know the pet's health history, and can make the best recommendations for your pet.


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