Ulcer in a cat's mouth

Written by katherine stevens
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Ulcer in a cat's mouth
(cat image by Dwight Davis from Fotolia.com)

Mouth ulcers in cats are mostly rodent ulcers, which are eosinophilic granulomas. These can be caused by infections or allergies, and treatment options include injectable therapies, prescription pills and dietary adjustments.

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Definition

Mouth ulcers typically form on the cat's upper lip or tongue. Indolent ulcers, or rodent ulcers, are one of the three types of skin conditions that make up eosinophilic granuloma complex. An eosinophil is a white blood cell that is typically related to allergic responses to parasites. A granuloma is a lump of inflammatory cells that has grouped into a solid structure.

Cause

Your veterinarian will help determine the cause of the ulcers in your cat's mouth. The most common causes are infection, allergies, or an improper immune response. An infection might be caused by an injury to your cat's mouth; allergies are most commonly due to an ingredient intolerance in your cat's diet or exposure to an airborne allergen. With any of these causes, eosinophil cells are called to the site of the response in your cat's mouth.

Diagnosis

Your veterinarian will perform a thorough exam. She will ask for a behavioural history to note any changes in your cat's actions and to learn what he may be exposed to that could cause an allergic reaction. She may choose to take a biopsy of the ulcer. Determining the cause of the ulcers is vital for prescribing the proper treatment.

Treatment

Steroid treatment, most commonly cortisone, is the most routine treatment. Your veterinarian will likely give a long-lasting injection to resolve the ulcers. Typically, just one or two injections are needed, and if the lesions reoccur, treatment is generally only necessary once or twice each year. If the ulcers are caused by an infection, your veterinarian will likely choose to treat with an antibiotic, either by injection or in pill form. If allergies are suspected she will likely want you to do a food elimination diet with your cat to determine what the offending allergen is so that it can be eliminated.

Prevention

Because the causes vary, preventing all mouth ulcers in your cat is not possible. Observing your cat carefully and noting any changes in his behaviour is key to an early diagnosis and prompt treatment. Routine veterinary care is also important for catching symptoms early. Noting any signs of food or environmental allergies, such as itching and fur loss, can also be beneficial in preventing severe rodent ulcers from developing.

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