Dear Most Esteemed and Knowledgeable Kitties:
Hi. I have an urgent question. My cat has been diagnosed with gingivitis and needs tooth removal. His mouth hurts so badly that he can’t eat hard cat food, just soft. Anyway, I’d like to treat his sore in his mouth. Can I put peroxide on it to help kill off the bacteria?
Thanks so much!
Siouxsie: In its advanced stages, gingivitis is indeed a very painful condition. And although peroxide used to be the wound cleaner of choice, it has recently become much less favored because it damages healthy flesh as well as lifting bacteria out through its bubbling action. Medical professionals also discourage putting peroxide directly on mucous membranes such as the tissue inside the mouth.
Thomas: Putting peroxide on a wound is also, as you probably know, very painful and uncomfortable. If your cat is in severe pain already, you don’t want to make his situation worse by hurting him with application of peroxide.
Dahlia: There are other cat-safe antibacterial products out there, the most common of which is chlorhexidine. Chlorhexidine is sold over the counter, but it’s very important that you talk to your vet before using this product.
Siouxsie: After your cat has his teeth removed, his mouth will be treated with chlorhexidine and he will be given antibiotics to treat any remaining infection.
Thomas: We also recommend that you ask your vet if there’s anything you can do about your cat’s pain. It’s possible that he or she may be willing to give you a cat-safe pain medication like meloxicam (sold under the brand name Metacam in Canada and the United States), which may make your cat more comfortable until his surgery.
Dahlia: In the meantime, continue feeding your cat canned food. It’s critical that he continues to eat well so that his body is in good shape for his surgery.
Siouxsie: It may be easier for him to eat the “mush” variety of canned food rather than the “chunks in gravy” kind, since chewing seems to hurt him.
Thomas: Make sure you give him a high-quality food, because he’ll get better nutrition from a premium variety than he will from a standard grocery-store variety.
Dahlia: Ask your vet about vitamin supplements as well. As you probably know, your kitty isn’t eating as well as he could because his mouth is so sore, and it’s possible that getting some extra vitamins on board will help him not only to fight the infection but to be healthy for his surgery.
Siouxsie: Doctor Sarah says I may need to have a dental cleaning soon because I’ve got some tartar and the beginnings of gingivitis on my back teeth. I don’t want one! My teeth are just fine! Besides, I hate the vet!
Thomas: You do not! Every time you come home from visiting Doctor Sarah, you say how nice she was to you and how mean we are.
Dahlia: Anyhow, Ariane, these are some things you may be able to do to make your kitty more comfortable before his surgery. We strongly recommend that you discuss your concerns with your vet and see what he or she says. And remember, your vet is the final word. If anything your vet tells you conflicts with what we’ve written here, take your vet’s word over ours. We’re not veterinarians and we’ve never seen your kitty before, so we don’t know his health history or physical condition nearly as well as your vet does.
Siouxsie: That’s right. Don’t give any over-the-counter medicines without your vet’s approval. And do not, under any circumstances, give your cat human pain relievers like acetaminophen, ibuprofen, or naproxen. These medicines are highly toxic to cats and can cause life-threatening organ failure.
Thomas: Don’t give aspirin without your vet’s approval, either. There are a few circumstances where your vet may instruct you to give your cat half a baby aspirin, but again, even baby aspirin can be harmful to a cat’s body.
Dahlia: There is no home treatment for periodontal disease. However, once your cat’s mouth is restored to health–and if your cat has any teeth left–your vet may instruct you on a home prevention program including daily tooth brushing and other such things. Good luck, Ariane, and please let us know how your kitty is doing as he recovers from his surgery.