The Best Cure for Gingivitis in Cats

by Susan Leisure, Demand Media
    Gingivitis is a common condition affecting almost 80 percent of adult cats.

    Gingivitis is a common condition affecting almost 80 percent of adult cats.

    Gingivitis is a painful condition for kitty companions. That small red line along the top of your cat's gums may be the start of a more serious condition. You can try several things at home to cure gingivitis before loading your cat up and heading to the vet.

    Cats Don't Brush Their Teeth, So You Have To

    Cats don't brush their teeth. If they did, gingivitis probably wouldn't be such a problem for feline friends. Gingivitis is an inflammation of the gums, and it affects four out of five cats over 3 years old. Understanding the causes of gingivitis can help you prevent this painful flare-up in your kitty companion. Gingivitis is usually caused when food particles collect in the small spaces between the teeth and gums. As the food decays, bacteria begin to grow, causing pockets of infections. The infection and debris irritate the gums, and may eventually cause them to become red, swollen or even bleed. If your cat will let you brush her teeth, you can help her clean the debris from her gum line and reduce the gingivitis.

    A Viral Culprit May Have Invaded Your Cat's Mouth

    Your kitty's gingivitis might not be the result of bad oral hygiene. She may actually have a virus that makes her more susceptible to gingivitis. The most common viral culprit of gingivitis is calicivirus. Routine vaccinations immunize cats against calicivirus. The "C" in an "FVCRP" vaccine is for calicivirus. You can have your cat tested for calicivirus antibodies, which will tell you if she is carrying the virus. But sometimes the best plan is to treat the symptoms. If your feline friend has gingivitis, a stuffy nose and runny eyes, there's a good chance she has calicivirus. Talk to your vet about treating your cat with a combination of antibiotics, antiviral medications and anti-inflammatory medications. You can also add lysine to your cat's diet. Lysine is a natural amino acid that can slow down the reproduction of the virus. Check with your veterinarian, local pet supply store or online for lysine supplements or treats.

    A Crunch A Day Does Not Keep Gingivitis Away

    Crunchy, dry food does not clean you cat's teeth. Relying on dry food would be the same as eating pretzels every day to keep your teeth clean. Instead, small particles of dry food can stick to your cat's teeth and gums, and eventually some get lodged in between the teeth and gums, leading to the need for teeth brushing mentioned earlier. But there are good alternatives to dry food that can help a cat with gingivitis. A leading veterinarian in gingivitis research has found that some cats also have an allergic reaction to highly processed foods, especially those foods that have grains. Just by switching her patients to a canned food with more natural ingredients, she was able to clear up many cases of gingivitis. Sometimes, a simple switch to canned or raw food can keep your cat's teeth cleaner, as the moisture from the food will act like a natural mouthwash. If you choose to give your cat a raw, meaty chicken or turkey bone a few times a week, she'll be able to scrub her teeth herself when she is chewing on the meat and bones.

    A Good Scrub and Polish Might Be Needed

    Sometimes the easy, natural cures don't work well enough to clear up gingivitis. If your cat still has swollen, red gums after trying everything you can at home, you may need to have her teeth cleaned by a veterinarian. When the vet cleans your kitty's teeth, she'll need to be under anesthesia. Be sure to talk to your vet about the risks associated with anesthesia, especially if your cat is older or has other health issues. Just like human teeth cleanings at the dentist, your vet will scrape your furry friend's teeth and try to dislodge any debris or infection between the teeth and gums. Often, a good teeth cleaning followed by changes at home can clear up your feline companion's gingivitis completely.

    About the Author

    Susan Leisure is the director of an animal welfare organization and owner of a holistic pet supply store in Atlanta, Georgia. She has a master's degree from Emory University, and is currently completing a degree in clinical pet nutrition.

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