February is National Pet Dental Month. To honor that, I would like to introduce you to Ralph, a sweet and handsome brown tabby. Ralph was found as a stray in October and is approximately seven years old. It was evident on Ralph’s first examination by our veterinary team that he had a lot of discomfort in his mouth. His gums were severely red, and the inflammation even continued to the back of his throat. Ralph was diagnosed with a condition called stomatitis, a very painful disease that causes severe inflammation of the gingiva and mucosa of the mouth.
The underlying cause of stomatitis is usually due to an abnormal immune response to one or more causes. These causes may include a previous viral infection or an irregular response to the mouth’s normal bacteria and tartar. Due to this, the first line of treatment is typically extraction of the majority, if not all, of the teeth. Although this sounds drastic, most cats have a positive outcome.
When performing such a large number of extractions, it is very important to make sure all the teeth are taken out in their entirety. This requires performing X-rays to ensure no roots are left behind. If so, Ralph would be in the same pain after the procedure as he was before. Although we can perform routine dental procedures in-house at the shelter, we wanted to set Ralph up for the greatest chance of success after such an extensive procedure.
This is where our friends at the University of Pennsylvania School of Veterinary Medicine come into play. As some of you may remember, we partner with the team at UPenn to help with their feline blood donor and kidney transplant programs. Both are incredible programs that save hundreds of lives each year. After reaching out and explaining Ralph’s situation, they were more than happy to help us facilitate his care through their board-certified dentistry department. Ralph is set to have his dental procedure at the end of the month, and we wish him a smooth and speedy recovery to get the relief he so desperately deserves. Ralph remains one of the most affectionate and gentle cats, so we can only imagine how wonderful he will be when he no longer has discomfort.
Please remember to check your pets regularly for any signs of dental disease. Being proactive can save them from much pain and other potential health consequences. Unfortunately, Ralph probably suffered from his stomatitis for some time; however, due to the generous support of our partners and donors, we will be able to change his life for the better.
Ralph is currently cozy in his foster home, but he is AVAILABLE for adoption on our website HERE.