How Much Does Dog Salivary Gland Surgery Cost?


Written by:  Howmuchisit.org Staff
Last Updated:  August 10, 2018

Dogs have salivary glands, which produce their saliva to help with the digestion process, beneath their tongues and in the back of their mouths.

While there are several glands that can produce saliva, only two are considered the primary glands, both of which are located on each side of the jaw.  If any gland were damaged, swollen and/or blocked, the saliva will not be able to flow naturally, and instead, it will leak into the surrounding tissue and will continue grow, potentially forming cysts.

Unfortunately, if your dog was experiencing this problem, it will not go away on its own, and the longer you wait, the more difficult it can be for your veterinarian to determine which gland ruptured.

At the time of diagnosis, your vet will be able to determine which type of salivary mucocele your dog has.

Mraaaaw by Lodian, on Flickr
Mraaaaw” (CC BY-SA 2.0) by Lodian

The cost of salivary gland surgery for a dog

The cost of salivary gland surgery will greatly depend on the type (we get into this below) your vet, geographical location and all of the pre-operative/post-operative work your dog needs.  In most cases, regardless of the type, your vet will recommend surgery to remove the ruptured gland/s involved.  While the affected area can be drained, this is only considered as a temporary solution and isn’t recommended.  From our research, we have seen costs as little as $650 to more than $3,500+ when you factor in all of the testing and hospitalization stays.

On WagWalking.com, for example, a visitor asked if $2,400 was too much for a surgical procedure, and according to the vet who answered, he stated the quote could be reasonable, but cheaper options could be found elsewhere.

The Helping Hands Vet located in Richmond, VA, noted on its official price sheet that it would cost $655 for a salivary gland removal surgical procedure.

A member on this GermanShepherds.com forum thread claimed they were quoted $3,000.

The extra costs to consider

In most cases, your vet will want to draw blood, perform x-rays to locate the affected gland and/or take a sample of the urine to make sure your dog is able to handle the anesthesia while the surgery is performed.  This may or may not be included in the initial quote given by your vet.

After the surgery, your vet will prescribe pain medication to help your dog cope with the surgery.  This can include nonsteroidal anti-inflammatories, local anesthetics, and/or narcotics to control the pain.  If the surgery were complex, then there’s a good chance your vet will want to monitor your dog’s progress overnight for the next 24 to 48 hours.

A follow-up appointment, usually a few weeks after the procedure, will be mandatory to check on the incision and remove the drain.

Diagnosing the issue

Before determining a course of action, your veterinarian will first want to perform a physical examination.  Usually, mucoceles, which occurs when the salivary gland is damaged, is often easier to identify as they can cause swelling around the neck and/or mouth.  While tumors and abscesses can look similar, they tend to be firmer.

After a physical exam, the vet will then want to more than likely perform a sterile aspiration to examine the fluid under a microscope.  If the white blood cell count were high, it could indicate a sign of an infection and surgery could be required to locate the ruptured duct.  Before your dog is considered for the procedure, however, your vet will want to draw blood and collect a urine sample.

The types

Cervical mucocele – This tends to be the most common diagnosis — a process where the saliva will collect in the jaw/neck region.

Pharyngeal mucocele – Although less common that the two mentioned prior, this saliva will collect in the back of the throat, often making it hard for the dog to breathe and/or swallow.

Ranula mucocele – In this particular situation, the saliva will collect beneath the tongue or alongside it.  This is commonly seen as well but not as common as the jaw/neck region.

Zygomatic mucocele – A very rare condition where the saliva will collect around the eye.

Surgical procedure

Known as a sialoadenectomy in the medical world, this surgical procedure will remove one or more of the dog’s salivary glands.

First, the dog will be anesthetized before any incisions are made.

Next, an incision will be made into the affected side, which, depending on the type, can either be made via the neck or in another region.  Once the affected gland is located, the surgeon will cut off the blood supply to the capsule, a part which is connected to the gland.  Most of the gland will then be removed and separated from the salivary duct.

When the surgeon confirms the glands have been removed from the capsules, the space were the glands once were will be sutured shut and a drainage tube will be inserted, with the skin around the tube stitched with non-absorbable sutures.

After the surgery has been performed, a bandage will be applied and a follow-up appointment will be made for the future.

Symptoms to look out for

Swelling in the neck, face and/or tongue area.

The dog has trouble breathing and/or swallowing.

A sign of a bacterial infection such as a fever.

Blood in the saliva.

Tips to know

Complications, while rare, can occur just like any other surgical procedure.  In some cases, if one salivary gland were removed and the condition were to reappear, then the other gland may need to be removed as well.


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