Friday, April 10, 2009

Feline Stomatitis

I just watched my associate finish a dental procedure on a very painful mouth that looked a whole lot like this one. Since I missed Pet Dental Health Month, (not yet blogging regularly) I wanted to share this with everyone so that hopefully your pet will not have to go through such a prolonged, painful course of disease before you seek treatment.

Feline Stomatitis, is a painful, inflammatory condition of the mouth. We are not sure why some cats get this condition. Some veterinarians think that there is a chronic viral infection with Calici virus. Others think it is from chronic poor dental hygiene. Still others think that it is an over reaction to the tarter, plaque and bacteria, found in the cat's mouth. One thing most veterinarians agree on is that there is some sort of immune system over reaction in the oral cavity. If recognized early, stomatitis can sometimes be controlled with frequent dental cleanings, anti biotics and a stringent home oral care program. Once the cat's mouth looks like the one in this photograph, the only treatment is surgical..

In the case of our kitty today, he was admitted for blood tests, general anesthesia, a good dental cleaning above and below the gum line and dental radiographs to evaluate the extent of dental disease. Then all affected teeth (most of the uppers as well as a canine_ were extracted. He will be sent home on anti biotics and some oral rinses and we will recheck him in two weeks. If we are lucky, the mouth will heal well and we can control this disease just by having the owners take care of the mouth at home.

To have success, we must make sure that radiographs are taken and no roots are left behind under the gum line. In many cases, this treatment is not aggressive enough and we have to go back surgically and remove all of the teeth and diseased bone. Long term anti biotics follow the oral surgery. There have been many reports of cats doing very well once all of the teeth have been extracted and the diseased tissue removed.

The most common objection I get from clients is their fear that their pet won't be able to eat with no teeth. In fact the cats do better after treatment as their pain has been alleviated. Some will still eat dry food, but we try to get most onto a diet of canned cat food.

You should check your cat's mouth regularly and call your veterinarian if you see any signs of redness, swelling or bleeding from the gums. If the cat chatters it's teeth when you are looking in, then the mouth is painful and needs immediate attention. Your veterinarian should examine your pet's mouth as part of the regular physical examination and let you know if anything needs to be done to keep the oral cavity healthy,

Dental health is a team project. Good nutrition, regular dental care, and home care with observation will keep your pet's smile intact and breath fresh and clean.

Keith Niesenbaum, VMD

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