Signs, Symptoms and what can you do
Author, Professional Pet Sitting Etc.
We’ve all heard of gingivitis, that nasty swelling of our mouth’s tissues that can give us such oral distress as painful ulcers, bleeding and tenderness and can lead to periodontal disease if not treated. Well, did you know your cat can suffer the same fate if you don’t care for her teeth as you do your own? That’s right, cats can develop a disease known as feline stomatitis which, unfortunately, is quite common in adult cats.
It’s not known what the exact cause of feline stomatitis is, but it sometimes develops due to untreated tartar and plaque on the cat’s teeth. However, a great deal of feline experts believe the disease is the result of an over-active immune system which encourages the bacteria in the cat’s mouth to attack its own tissues. This immune system disorder can be contributed to feline conditions such as:
- Nutritional imbalances
- Food sensitivities or allergies
- Chemical toxicity from exposure to environmental chemicals, plastics and preservatives
- Chronic viral infections such as feline immunodeficiency virus, the herpes virus and bartonellosis (commonly known as cat scratch disease)
So, how do you know if your favorite feline might suffer from stomatitis?
Common signs that your feline may have the disease include bad breath (though not always a symptom) and pain in her mouth. Since your cat can’t tell you whether or not she’s in pain, look for indications that she’s experiencing a painful mouth, such as:
- She often paws at her mouth
- She drools excessively, and the drool may sometimes contain blood
- Her appetite decreases, or she refuses to eat at all
- She doesn’t groom herself as often as she once did
- Her behavior has changed, for example, she’s being more clingy than usual, or she’s been hiding often
How do you know for sure that your cat has stomatitis?
If you notice any of the above signs, make an appointment with your cat’s veterinarian for a check-up. Be aware, kitty may need to be anesthetized in order to allow a thorough examination of her mouth and to prevent any undue pain during the exam.
While under anesthesia, the vet may opt to clean kitty’s teeth and, perhaps, get a gum tissue sample for lab review. And x-rays may be necessary to determine the extent of the disease. As well, specific blood tests may be done to check for the chronic viral infections mentioned above.
If it is determined your cat does indeed have stomatitis, what can be done?
Treatment of stomatitis varies depending on what caused the disease in the first place. With some cats, teeth extraction is necessary in order to remove the mouth surfaces that are often attacked by the bacteria that causes the disease. In others, antibiotics, steroids and/or pain medications may do the trick.
Also helpful during treatment and for the remainder of your cat’s life is the maintenance of good oral hygiene, including tooth-brushing, oral additives in your cat’s water dish, and treats that are made specifically for tooth-care.
You can also focus on providing your cat with a high protein, low carbohydrate diet with a protein source not previously encountered by your cat’s digestive system. As well, CoQ10 and zinc supplements have been shown to combat stomatitis.
So, as you can see, proper dental care is as crucial for your cat’s health as it is for your own. By paying attention to your cat’s behavior, maintaining a good oral health regime, and possibly changing your cat’s diet you can keep that pesky and painful stomatitis at bay!
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Dorinne Whynott, is a long time animal professional. She is a successful business owner establishing one of the largest pet sitting companies in New Hampshire since 1990. Click to Read her complete History.
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