Stomatitis in dogs

Stomatitis in dogs is a severe, painful inflammation of the mouth and gums. Periodontal disease can play a role in this disease. Regular professional cleanings and rigorous oral hygiene at home are essential to control this condition.

Stomatitis in dogs is also known as gingivostomatitis, canine chronic ulcerative stomatitis (CCUS), or lymphocytic plasmacytic stomatitis. Breeds like Maltese, Greyhound, and the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel may be predisposed to this disease, but it can affect any dog. Do not ignore dental disease in your dog, the sooner this condition is detected, the better the outcome.



What is stomatitis in dogs?

  • Stomatitis means inflammation of the inside of the mouth.
  • You might notice your dog’s gums are red, and the mouth is covered with bright red spots that bleed easily.
  • This condition is very painful and chronic (long-term).
  • The exact cause is unknown.
  • It’s understood that periodontal disease may be a contributor to this condition.
  • There is an overreaction of the immune system in response to bacterial accumulation in the gums and teeth.
  • Stomatitis in dogs is relatively uncommon.



Symptoms of stomatitis in dogs

You may notice some or all of the following signs in your dog:

  • Red sores or ulcers on the gums, tongue, roof of mouth (palate), or lips
  • Pain in the mouth
  • Difficulty chewing or eating
  • Preference for soft food
  • Decreased appetite
  • Bleeding gums
  • Drooling or blood-tinged saliva
  • Bad breath (halitosis)
  • Pawing or rubbing the mouth
  • Weight loss



Dogs at risk of stomatitis

Breeds such as Maltese, Greyhound, and the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel may have a genetic predisposition which can lead to a severe form of stomatitis.



How is stomatitis in dogs diagnosed?

Diagnosis is usually based on your dog’s symptoms and a visual examination of the mouth. Sometimes sedation is necessary for a better evaluation.

To help rule out any other conditions, your vet may recommend the following:

  • Dental x-rays
  • Blood and urine tests
  • Biopsy


Vet treatment

How is stomatitis in dogs treated?

Treatment of stomatitis involves some or all of the following:

  • Professional cleaning under anaesthesia
  • Tooth extractions
  • Pain killers
  • Anti-inflammatories
  • Antibiotics
  • Continuous home oral hygiene with tooth brushing
  • Repeat scheduled professional cleaning to reduce chances of flare-up
  • Immune-mediated medication such as cyclosporine may be used in severe cases


Home treatment

How to look after a dog with stomatitis

Home dental care

Continuous home oral hygiene is essential.

In some cases, this condition can be resolved only with:

  • Regular professional cleanings
  • Rigorous home oral hygiene

Brushing your dog’s teeth could be quite difficult for you and your dog. Read our article on how to brush your dog’s teeth for more information.

Surgical tooth extractions

Where oral hygiene by itself is unsuccessful, your dog may require multiple tooth extractions. Most dogs cope very well with few or no teeth.

What to expect after tooth extractions

  • Your dog will get pain medication after tooth extraction surgery.
  • Wet food is usually necessary for at least 2-3 weeks in cases of multiple or full mouth extractions.
  • Dogs who have trouble eating after surgery can be prescribed appetite stimulants.
  • Once the gums are healed, most dogs are willing to eat dry kibble again.



How to prevent stomatitis in dogs

  • There is no prevention for stomatitis.
  • This condition can be mistaken for periodontal disease (red gum disease) which is less serious. Do not ignore your dog’s red gums.


When to worry

When to worry about your dog with stomatitis

If your dog shows any of the following signs, call your vet:

  • Pawing at the face
  • Not eating
  • Losing weight
  • Not improving despite treatment

Call us at Joii if you need help:

  • Giving medication
  • Identifying pain in your dog
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