Gingivitis in Cats and Promoting Oral Care

Gingivitis in Cats and Promoting Oral Care

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The earliest sign of periodontal disease in cats is gingivitis, a gum disease characterized by inflammation of the gums due to plaque build-up. While gingivitis is reversible, periodontal disease is not, making it crucial to identify early signs and get the necessary treatment. Watch out for these signs that your catโ€™s dental health may be at risk.

Red, swollen gums

A yellowish plaque build-up may appear on their teeth, with red, inflamed gums. The best time to check is when theyโ€™re asleep or at ease. Make it a regular practice to check for red, inflamed gums and plaque build-up. If you spot a brownish build-up, your cat is likely to have tartar and suffers from severe gingivitis or early periodontitis.


If your cat's breath smells bad, the chances are that they're suffering from gingivitis, and as the disease progresses, their breath just gets worse.

Pain or discomfort 

Monitor your cat's behavior carefully to notice any signs of pain, especially while eating. Swelling of the gums can result in avoiding hard foods, eating with difficulty, eating slowly, or refraining from eating altogether. The discomfort experienced can cause them to become lethargic and result in poor overall health. Check for changes in their usual behaviors to know if something is amiss. 

Risk factors

Certain factors may increase the risk of your cat developing gingivitis. Old age, diabetes, feline immunodeficiency virus, leukemia, breed disposition (for purebred cats) are all factors to bear in mind while checking for gingivitis.    

Once you've identified the signs, it's time to book an appointment with your vet for an oral examination. Depending on the severity of the disease, your vet may perform scaling and polishing under general anaesthesia to remove the plaque or tartar build-up. Once this is done, you will be instructed on practices that promote your catโ€™s dental hygiene.

Diet change    

Your vet may recommend a change in their diet to include more plant fibers that prevent the build-up of plaque. You may also be asked to give chews and add supplements to your catโ€™s water to maintain dental health.

Brushing their teeth

You may be given a special paste to rub on your catโ€™s teeth with a brush, a cloth, or your hands. As effective as this practice is in preventing plaque build-up, itโ€™s easier said than done. Most cats struggle to get away, but youโ€™re in luck if your cat enjoys the taste and feel of it! Bottles of mouth rinse are quicker as they can be used to spray over your catโ€™s teeth.  With proper care and regular check-ups, your feline friends can be spared of their dental troubles!

How to Recognize Dog and Cat Gingivitis 

Dental disease is the most common health issue affecting dogs and cats. Early stage problems include gingivitis, a condition in which teeth that havenโ€™t been properly cleaned build up plaque, tartar, and disease-producing bacteria around the gum line.

Dog and cat gingivitis leads to inflammation around the gingiva (gums). While early stage gingivitis is uncomfortable for pets, itโ€™s only the beginning. Left untreated, it turns into severe gingivitis and then periodontal disease, which can cause severe pain, bleeding, tooth loss, and bone loss in the mouth.
Most dogs and cats show signs of periodontal disease by the time they are 3 years old, according to the American Veterinary Dental Society.

But just because itโ€™s common doesnโ€™t mean that dental disease is something to be complacent about. Preventing advanced stage oral disease is essential to protecting your pet from major medical problems.

Here are five warning signs to watch for with gingivitis. If you notice these changes in your dog or cat, talk to your veterinarian about getting your pet a complete oral check up.

1. Halitosis

Doggy and kitty breath is not known to be of sweet fragrance. Itโ€™s perfectly normal for pets to have a bit of bad breath after chewing on garbage or if youโ€™re struggling to get them to stop eating feces. Thereโ€™s a difference, however, in food-related bad breath and gingivitis-related halitosis. If you notice your dog or cat has intolerably bad breath even when nothing โ€œickyโ€ is being consumed, the problem is likely related to a buildup of bacteria and plaque on the gingiva.

2. Swollen gums

Like people, canine and feline gums bulge around the root of each tooth. In cases of gingivitis, however, the gums become so irritated and inflamed that you canโ€™t see a bump. Instead, the gums are more smooth with the formerly depressed areas swelling up around the infected area.

3. Discolored gums

In addition to being appropriately contoured, healthy gums maintain a consistent color. That may be a light pink or even black for your dog. Some breeds of dogs and cats have unusual looking gums including spotted tissue. Whatever it is, get used to whatโ€™s normal for your pet. Then check your dog or catโ€™s mouth regularly to see if thereโ€™s discoloration. In some instances of gingivitis, the gums will turn white; in others the gums will grow dark red.

4. Discharge from the gums

Discharge from the gums is a sign of late stage gingivitis and the beginnings of periodontal disease. While gingivitis can be reversed, periodontal disease leads to long term, irreversible damage such as bone loss and tooth decay.

5. Behavioral changes with eating and chew toys

Watch for changes in how pets chew and what they choose to put into their mouths. If your dog or cat shies away from hard food, itโ€™s possible that inflammation is making it hard to chew. Chew toys that your pet loved to gnaw on may go untouched because itโ€™s too painful to bite down.

Treating Gingivitis

Gingivitis is a clear warning sign that your dog or cat needs a more rigorous oral hygiene routine. As long as you take action, the symptoms should begin to disappear and your pet will be able to avoid further issues.

Pet parents should be sure to follow a weekly brushing regimen to combat gingivitis -- daily is better if you can manage it. Veterinarians also recommend that you have your dog or catโ€™s teeth professionally cleaned every 12 to 18 months depending on how severe the gingivitis is and how quickly tartar and plaque seem to accumulate on your petโ€™s teeth.

The Secret Treatment For Gingivitis In Your Cat

Gingivitis occurs in the teeth due to an accumulation of plaque. A plaque is nothing but food and bacteria that remains stuck in the lower part of the teeth. When plaque hardens, it becomes yellow in color and forms a substance known as tartar. It is present along the gumline and is an indication of bad oral hygiene.Cats suffer from gingivitis but most owners are unaware of this fact because either they donโ€™t know what gingivitis is or their cats never show any symptom. Cats are very good at hiding their pain and discomfort but vets know when cats are suffering from a problem.Gingivitis is reversible and below are some solutions that are effective and easy to follow.

  1. Natural SupplementsThere are many natural ingredients available that can help reduce inflammation and remove microbes from the gums. If your cats are not too fussy about different food items, try applying a small amount of calendula with a cotton swab on the gumline. Other natural ingredients like Echinacea and grapefruit seed extract are excellent protection against bacteria, fungi and microbes.
  2. Healthy DietA good way to decrease gingivitis and reduce inflammation in the gum region is through a healthy diet. Apart from cat food, you can also try giving your cat foods that you consume like apples, carrots, celery, bits of fruit, melons, berries and other foods that clean the teeth and remove bacteria.
  3. BrushingOne way to maintain proper oral hygiene is through brushing and it is also true for cats. For brushing you can use agents like baking soda, cinnamon, coconut oil and vitamin C based product. Since your cat is not used to brushing, it might take a while but a daily practice will finally get you there. Use a cotton swab or use your fingers to gently massage the gum area with the brushing agents and allow it to sit for some time. Additionally, you can use your favorite toothpaste to get an additional flavor.
  4. Going to the vetFinally, taking your cat to the dentist is the best possible option. Gingivitis level in your cat may not be alarmingly high but itโ€™s still better to take your cat to a vet rather than sit and wait till things get worse.


Gingivitis occurs from plaques in the teeth and results in the reddening and inflammation of the gum region. It occurs in both humans and cats. However, unlike humans, the disease often goes unnoticed. Gingivitis is reversible and following natural home-made remedies, it can be completely removed. Itโ€™s better to consult a vet and take proper advice because often times even you wonโ€™t realize if things become serious.

More on Pet Dental Health

How to Prevent Dental Problems in Cats
Prevent Dental Problems Before They Start
Signs of Strong Dental Health in Dogs

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