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Dental/Oral Disease in Cats and Dogs

Causes of Dental Disease

Dental disease is one of the most common conditions we see in our canine and feline patients. Usually pet parents let us know that their pet "has bad breath", however, there are many other concerns with prolonged dental disease that can be much more detrimental to your pet. Some of these symptoms are:

- Inappetence

- Chewing on only one side of the mouth

- Excessive drooling

- Bloody saliva

- Painful mouth

- Losing teeth

- Lump just below the eye (can be a sign of a tooth root abscess)

- Discharge from the eye or nose (again can be due to a tooth root abscess, especially in dogs like pugs, chihuahuas, and dachshunds)

Prolonged dental disease not only causes discomfort to your pet, but can also put further stress on your pet's body as well. Severe dental disease has been linked to heart disease, kidney and liver disease as the organs are working harder to work against the infection. 


Ideally, our pets should have their teeth brushed 1-2 times per day and have an annual dental cleaning. We understand that some pets are more reluctant to have their teeth brushed than others (cats) and it can be difficult to brush every day. We have dental diets such as Hills t/d that help to break up calculus on the teeth as your pet chews. These comes in regular and small bites for dogs and there is also a feline version. We also have water additives available at our clinic to help prevent calculus build-up.



Oral Masses:

Although not common, we can sometimes see oral masses in our canine and feline patients (more commonly canine). It is always important to have the masses examined (especially if they are growing quickly) as many oral masses are cancerous. Some masses, like papillomas are not cancerous and will often resolve on their own over time. If you want more information as to how a vet diagnoses oral masses, click on the link below:

Oral Masses in Dogs and Cats

Gingival Hyperplasia:

A disorder where the gums of your dog swell and over develop, causing discomfort in your dog and progressing periodontal disease. Some breeds, like Boxers, are predisposed to the condition, so it is important for your vet to perform annual oral exams and to ensure proper dental hygiene. To read more about Gingival Hyperplasia, click the link below:

Gingival Hyperplasia

Brachycephalic Syndrome (Elongated Soft Palates, Cleft Palates, and Everted Laryngeal Saccules):

Brachycephalic pets (any pet with a short snout, including cats) are more predisposed to disorders involving their soft palate, throat, lips, and vocal folds. Some of these conditions correct themselves over time, but many need surgical correction in order to resolve symptoms. This can impact their breathing, so it is important to consult your veterinarian if you notice any of these conditions in your pet to ensure it is not impacting their wellbeing. If you would like more information on the oral components of Brachycephalic Syndrome click on the link below:

Brachycephalic Syndrome

Retained Deciduous Teeth (Baby Teeth):

In both cats and dogs, sometimes the baby teeth do not fall out as they should. In this event they are considered retained. It is recommended to have these teeth removed as they can lead to malocclusions (improper and potentially painful tooth placement) as well as increased calculus build-up. By the time your pet reaches the age of 6 months their baby teeth should have been pushed out by their adult teeth. If this does not happen and all of the adult teeth have emerged, your vet will often recommend to have them removed, usually at the time of spaying and neutering. If you want more information about Retained Deciduous Teeth, click on the link below:

Retained Deciduous Teeth


Tooth Resorption:




We all know that our cats require very special treatment (even more so than dogs sometimes). Because our cats are special they have a very unique auto-immune condition where their immune system attacks their own teeth. Their white blood cells cannot differentiate between what is calculus and what is a tooth and start to eat away at the enamel until lesions are formed. It is incredibly painful and can unfortunately progress very quickly. The best way to prevent development of the disease is brushing their teeth regularly to prevent the development of calculus in the first place. Dental diets help as well as the water additives, but prevention is key for fighting this disease. If you would like more information on the topic, click the link below:

Tooth Resorption in Cats

Feline Stomatitis:

Yet another immune disease in cats, this disorder does not cause the white blood cells to attack the teeth, but the gums become allergic to the teeth causing extreme inflammation. This can cause decreased appetite and extreme pain of the mouth. Often the only course of treatment is removing the teeth of the affected cat. It is not a very common disorder, but does occasionally occur even in cats that receive optimum dental hygiene. If you would like more information on the topic, click the link below:

Feline Stomatitis

Eosinophilic Granuloma Complex (Rodent Ulcers)



Eosinophilic Granuloma Complex is yet another immune disorder found in cats (you might be seeing a trend here) that affects the gums, lips, and tongue of a cat. You can see red inflammation usually along the lips or in severe cases, actual ulcers. Although there is no definitive cause for the disorder, most cats improve on a hydrolyzed protein diet, implying that it may be allergy based. It does not affect the teeth at all, but can often lead to discomfort of the mouth and potentially inappetence. If you would like more information on Eosinophilic Granuloma Complex, click on the link below:

Eosinophilic Granuloma Complex

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