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What you need to know about stomatitis in cats

 by bora on 03 Feb 2020 |
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Stomatitis is a painful swelling of your cat’s mouth and gums. Here’s everything you need to know to treat this serious condition.

We’ve all heard of “cat breath,” but your pet’s malodourous mouth can be a serious cause for concern when something is wrong. In some cases, bacteria and other oral maladies can cause stomatitis, a painful inflammation of a cat’s mouth and gums. Here is what you need to know about this serious condition.

Stomatitis is a severe inflammation of the mouth that in most cases leads to ulcers on the gums, tongue, lips or throat. Pets of any age can suffer from stomatitis, which if left untreated, can cause serious bleeding or infections. In most cases, veterinarians suspect dental disease to be the cause behind this condition— particularly periodontal disease, which occurs when plaque and bacteria accumulate around the teeth and cause swelling. The ulcers accompanying stomatitis may form as the cat’s immune system attacks its own, infected tissue. Other medical conditions linked to stomatitis include viral infections such as leukemia or feline immunodeficiency virus (FIV), and bartonellosis, a bacterial infection carried by fleas.

Inspecting your pet’s mouth for signs of stomatitis can be tricky, as cats are reluctant to let anyone open their mouths. However, there are other signs that may indicate your pet is suffering from this painful condition. Cats with an inflamed mouth often struggle to eat or even open their mouths. Other symptoms include drooling, especially if mixed with blood; an unkempt coat; bad breath; weight loss; and pawing at the mouth or face. If you suspect your cat is suffering from stomatitis, take him to the veterinarian for diagnosis. Your vet may recommend sedation so he can complete a comprehensive examination. Basic blood work, such as a chemistry panel and complete blood count, will general show up normal in cases of stomatitis, but your veterinarian may want to check for other diseases such as FIV and bartonellosis that can cause the condition. A biopsy may be required, and dental X-rays can help your vet further explore the cause of Kitty’s dental disease.

Treating stomatitis involves initial pain management as well as treatment for the underlying cause behind the condition. Because inflamed and ulcerated gums and mouth can be very painful, most veterinarians will administer medication to treat pain and swelling, as well as an antibiotic to begin fighting any infection. If periodontal disease is causing the condition, your vet will likely recommend a tooth cleaning or even removal of some teeth, as the teeth provide surfaces on which bacteria can attach and proliferate. Other underlying illnesses causing stomatitis such as bartonellosis should be treated, when possible. While Kitty is healing, feed him soft foods. In some cases, you may even need to puree canned food while your pet’s mouth is on the mend. Many cats require longer-term care that includes anti-inflammatory medications to control their condition. An at-home routine of brushing Kitty’s teeth is also recommended to reduce plaque accumulation that can cause stomatitis.

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