What exactly is stomatitis?
Stomatitis is the inflammation of the soft tissues of the oral cavity. It is seen in many pet species, but is most commonly seen in cats.
What are the symptoms?
Signs of stomatitis may include red and bleeding gums, bad breath (halitosis), ulcerated lesions, drooling, reluctance to eat, and pawing at the face. Some animals may be so painful, that their behavior in general seems unusual.
What causes stomatitis?
Stomatitis can have a multitude of causes and often differs based on the species affected. The most common reasons are infections and immune-mediated diseases. Other causes include metabolic diseases, toxins, trauma, and cancer.
Infectious organisms like bacteria, viruses, and fungi can affect the oral cavity of all pets. Bacterial infections may arise secondary to dental disease (a good reason to brush and take care of your pet’s teeth!) Some viruses that cause stomatitis include Feline Leukemia Virus, Feline Immunodeficiency Virus (FIV), and herpesvirus in cats, and distemper in dogs.
This term refers to an abnormal response by the animal’s immune system. Examples of immune-mediated conditions include allergies, hypersensitivity reactions to drugs or foods, and diseases such as Pemphigus and Lupus. A condition in cats known as feline tooth resorption exists where structures of certain teeth begin to dissolve – this condition is often associated with stomatitis and is suspected to have an immune-mediated component.
Diseases such as kidney failure or diabetes mellitus affect the metabolism and production of certain compounds within the bloodstream. These can result in inflammation and damage to blood vessels and tissue within the oral cavity.
This category includes certain plants, chemotherapy drugs, chemical irritants, and radiation.
Stomatitis can result from the physical trauma of chewing on foreign objects, irritation from plaque buildup, burns from chewing electrical cords, misalignment of teeth, etc.
Some types of cancer may cause growths or lesions in the mouth that can lead to stomatitis.
What can I do to prevent my pet from getting stomatitis?
The most important factor in preventing stomatitis is making sure you pet gets regular checkups. Coming in for recommended wellness exams, allows us to identify problems early on. Early diagnosis is very important for successful treatment in many cases. You can also check your pet’s mouth regularly at home. This is most easily done when brushing your pet’s teeth, which should ideally be done daily. Although stomatitis has many causes other than bacterial infection secondary to dental disease, proper home-care of your pet’s teeth is extremely important to them living a long and healthy life. Although some causes of stomatitis are not preventable, you can avoid some factors. For example: pet-proof your home to block access to electrical cords and foreign objects that might cause trauma when chewed. Keep chemicals and plants out of your pet’s reach. Make sure your pet gets its recommended vaccines to prevent some of the infectious causes of stomatitis.
What can I do if my pet already has stomatitis?
The answer to this question depends largely on what the cause is. Treatment of the underlying issue or disease may lead to resolution of the stomatitis. Other causes may be treatable but not curable. Laser therapy is a good pain control option for pets currently suffering from stomatitis. Please speak with us regarding treatment options for your pet.