Dr. Tania’s cat Spud (otherwise known as her first child) is now 15 years old and is well into his senior years. A few months ago Tania noticed some plant material sticking out of Spud’s mouth and on closer inspection she found it was actually lodged in his gum near a tooth. She removed it as best she could, but noticed that there was still fluid swelling near this location a few weeks later. The tooth near this area was beginning to become painful to touch and starting to be a bit smelly.
It was also becoming apparent that Spud was having trouble eating his dry food and was also very worryingly losing weight. Any weight loss noted in a senior cat needs to be investigated as it can often be a sign of a systemic problem such as kidney disease, hyperthyroidism, diabetes or neoplasia that needs to be addressed. The decision was made to do a general anaesthetic and a dental procedure to either clean or remove any teeth that may be a concern and to fully investigate what was happening in his mouth.
Before the anaesthetic a blood test and a urine sample were taken to assess Spud’s general health as he has been diagnosed with early kidney disease for a few years now. The bloods showed that his kidneys were stable, but the white blood cells were elevated indicating that there was a mild inflammatory change that could possibly be due to the problems with the teeth and jaw.
Spud was fasted for 12 hours before his procedure, so Tania now has a greater understanding of how difficult it is not to feed a very hungry animal the morning of a procedure. First thing in the morning he was placed on fluids to ensure that he was in the best possible condition to have an anaesthetic.
It was found in Spud’s mouth that he had very cleverly got the plant material caught in his salivary gland duct, which was causing saliva to pool under the gum and to form a cyst. A biopsy of this area was taken and sent for histopathology to ensure it was nothing more sinister (which thankfully it was not). Some dental x-rays were taken to assess the teeth around this area, the surrounding bone were seen to be devitalised by the infection and inflammation. The ligament that was meant to be holding the tooth in place also looked to be affected, so the tooth was removed and the gum was sutured closed. Some of his other teeth also had some erosions in the enamel near the gum margin which meant they had the nerve exposed, so these were also removed as they would have been very painful and also causing problems with Spud’s ability to eat comfortably.
After his procedure Spud was given some pain relief and antibiotics to ensure his mouth healed well and that he was pain free after the surgery. Tania is very, very happy to report that he is back to his old self and has been back eating his food (and bossing everyone around about being fed on time too.)