What is Periodontal Disease in Cats?
What is it?
How is it Treated?
Siamese and Persians
When Oscar, a charming Siamese cat, began showing signs of discomfort while eating and developed bad breath, his owner, Susan, knew something wasn’t right. Concerned about Oscar’s well-being, she took him to their trusted veterinarian for a thorough examination. After a detailed oral assessment, the veterinarian diagnosed Oscar with periodontal disease, a common dental problem that can affect cats of all breeds and ages.
Periodontal disease in cats is an infection of the gums and bone surrounding the teeth. This condition affects cats’ health and quality of life. Cats suffer from periodontal infectious disease much as humans do. They may develop gum infections, tooth decay, loose teeth, and abscessed teeth.
This condition can lead to pain and discomfort in the cat’s mouth and eventually cause serious complications such as stomatitis, jaw fractures, kidney failure, and death. In addition, because cats don’t have the same immune system as dogs, they are susceptible to developing periodontal disease.
In addition, cats tend to bite each other more often than dogs do. Therefore, they are more likely to develop dental problems.
What Causes Gum Disease in Cats?
Periodontal disease is caused by bacteria living in plaque, which forms on teeth and gums. When plaque builds up over time, it becomes tartar. Tartar causes gum inflammation, which leads to periodontal disease.
Cats develop periodontal disease faster than dogs due to their shorter snouts and smaller mouths. As a result, cats are more likely to suffer from tooth loss.
Several factors contribute to cat periodontal disease, including genetics, diet, age, dental care habits, and environment. Some of these factors are beyond our control, while others we can influence.
- Genetics: Genetics plays a role in whether or not a cat develops periodontal disease. Certain breeds, like Siamese and Persians, are prone to periodontal disease, whereas other breeds, like Maine Coons, are less susceptible.
- Diet: Many commercial diets contain ingredients that lead to plaque build-up, contributing to periodontal disease development. Feeding dry food instead of canned foods can help prevent plaque build-up.
- Age: Older cats are more likely to develop periodontal problems.
- Behavior: Poor oral hygiene practices are common among older cats who have lost their instincts. These cats may lick themselves excessively, spreading bacteria into the mouth.
- Environment: Environmental conditions play a large part in whether or not a pet gets periodontal disease. For example, your cat could become ill if your home is damp, moldy, or dirty.
In addition to genetic predisposition, poor nutrition, and environmental factors, certain medical conditions can also contribute to cat periodontal diseases. Diabetes, kidney failure, liver disease, and immune system disorders can weaken the body’s ability to fight infections.
Symptoms of Periodontal Disease in Cats
Cats who suffer from periodontal disease usually experience pain and discomfort in their mouth. Cats with periodontal disease may also have trouble breathing due to airway inflammation. And the loss of appetite.
Symptoms of periodontal disease also include:
- Bad breath
- Swollen gums
- Bleeding gums
- Tooth loss
Diagnosis for Cat Gum Disease
Periodontal disease (gum disease) commonly affects cats’ mouths. Your veterinarian may perform a dental exam to examine your cat’s teeth and gums. This includes looking at the soft tissues inside your cat’s mouth, including the tongue, cheeks, lips, palate, and throat.
Your vet may use X-rays to help diagnose periodontal disease. However, cat periodontal disease can be challenging to diagnose without x-ray images. An X-ray shows the bones, muscles, and tissue inside your cat’s mouth. These images show whether there are signs of bone loss, tooth decay, or infection.
Treatment for Feline Periodontal Disease
While prevention is always preferable, treatment options exist if your cat suffers from periodontal disease. There are two types of treatments available: surgical procedures and non-surgical methods. Surgical procedures are typically reserved for severe cases, while non-surgical methods treat milder cases.
- Non-surgical treatments include scaling and root planning, which involves scraping off the tartar build-up on your cat’s teeth. Scaling and root planning help remove bacterial deposits that are causing the inflammation. Other non-surgical methods include administering antibiotics and applying special diets.
- Surgical procedures are generally reserved for more severe cases of periodontal disease. These surgeries involve removing damaged parts of the gums and bones and replacing them with healthy tissues. Depending on the severity of your cat’s case, surgery could be performed through either traditional means or laser therapy. Traditional surgery requires anesthesia and stitches, whereas laser surgery uses heat energy to remove diseased tissue.
Whether you treat your cat’s periodontal disease surgically or non-surgically, it’s essential to seek professional care as soon as possible. Early detection and treatment can help minimize the effects of periodontal disease and prevent further complications.
How to Prevent Gum Disease in Cats?
To prevent periodontal disease in your cat, you should follow these tips:
- Brush your cat’s teeth regularly. Use a soft brush and avoid brushing too vigorously. Brushing too aggressively can damage your cat’s teeth.
- Feed your cat a diet rich in fresh fruits and vegetables. These foods contain antioxidants that fight against free radicals, which contribute to plaque formation. And did you know that Up to 60 percent of cats can be helped by combining dietary changes and medications? Conversely, 40 percent of cats struggle with varying oral inflammation despite treatment. Also, do not feed your cat dry kibble. Dry kibble contains little nutrition, and it can promote plaque accumulation.
- Make sure your cat gets plenty of exercises. Exercise helps improve her overall health and reduces stress levels.
- Avoid giving your cat sugar-filled treats. Sugar promotes plaque build-up.
- Be careful about where your cat licks. If your cat licks their paws frequently, you should wash them thoroughly.
- Check your cat’s teeth every month. Regularly inspecting your cat’s teeth can help detect any signs of periodontal disease early.
Frequently Asked Questions
Disclaimer: The information provided on this veterinary website is intended for general educational purposes only and should not be considered as a substitute for professional veterinary advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always consult a licensed veterinarian for any concerns or questions regarding the health and well-being of your pet. This website does not claim to cover every possible situation or provide exhaustive knowledge on the subjects presented. The owners and contributors of this website are not responsible for any harm or loss that may result from the use or misuse of the information provided herein.