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208 Breeds, 422 Health Conditions  |  Find a Vet

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Sore Mouth (Stomatitis)

First Aid Condition

First aid health condition




Condition Overview

Stomatitis is inflammation of the mouth, gums, and tongue. Stomatitis can be a local manifestation of a systemic disease. It is seen in dogs with kidney failure and uremia, diabetes mellitus, hypoparathyroidism, leptospirosis, distemper, and autoimmune skin diseases.


Stomatitis is an extremely painful condition accompanied by drooling, bad breath, refusal to eat, difficulty chewing, and reluctance to permit an examination of the mouth. The inside of the mouth is red, inflamed, and sometimes ulcerated. The gums often bleed when rubbed.

Trench mouth St. Vincent's stomatitis; necrotizing ulcerative stomatitis) is an exceptionally painful stomatitis caused by a variety of bacteria. There is a characteristic serious mouth odor, accompanied by brown, purulent (puss-like), slimy saliva that stains the front of the legs. The gums are beef red and bleed easily. ulcerations occur in the mucous membranes. Come cases are initiated by periodontal disease.

Thrush (yeast stomatitis) is an uncommon stomatitis seen chiefly in dogs who are receiving broad-spectrum antibiotics that destroy normal bacterial flora and allow the growth of yeast. Thrush also occurs in dogs with compromised immunity associated with chronic illness. The mucous lining of the gums and tongue are covered with soft white patched that coalesce to produce an adherent white membrane. Painful ulcers appear as the disease progresses.

Recurrent stomatitis occurs where jagged, broken, or diseased teeth make repeated contact with the mucous lining of the lips, cheeks, or gums, causing traumatic ulcers of the mouth. A bacteria and a fungus are quite commonly cultured from these ulcers.


It is usually caused by periodontal disease or foreign objects caught between the teeth or embedded in the tongue. Occasionally, it follows mouth lacerations and burns of the mucous membranes.


Diagnosis is made by physical examination of the mouth.


In most cases, periodontal disease is present as a cause or contributing factor. Your vet may recommend a thorough cleaning of the dog's mouth under anesthesia. This affords the opportunity to treat dental calculus, decayed roots, and broken teeth - treatments that are all essential to cure the problem. The dog is then placed on an appropriate antibiotic. It is important to diagnose and treat any systemic cause of the stomatitis.

An injury to your pets mouth will make the mouth sore and he may be reluctant to eat. You can soften the dogs food with some water and place it in the microwave for 5-10 seconds to heat it slightly (dependent upon how much food is in the bowl). Slightly grinding the food in a blender will also do the trick.

Be advised that some "prescription" style pet foods may in-fact have a slightly addictive property. Dogs that eat these foods will sometimes have difficulty transitioning back to regular dog foods.

Buffered or enteric-coated aspirin helps to control pain, or your vet may prescribe a pain medication such as Etogesic or Deramax. B-complex vitamins that contain niacin may be of benefit.

Thrush is treated with topical Nystatin or an antifungal drug such as ketoconazole or itraconazole.


Aftercare at home involves rinsing the mouth with a 0.1 or 0.2% chlorhexidine solution (Peridex or Nolvadent) once or twice a day. Soak a cotton ball and gently swab the gums, teeth, and oral cavity. You can use a plastic syringe, turkey baster, or squirt bottle and squirt the mouth wash directly onto the gums.


Please contact your veterinarian if you have questions regarding this condition.

Show Sources & Contributors +


Dog Owners Home Veterinary Handbook

Publisher: Wiley Publishing, 2007

Website: http://www.wiley.com/WileyCDA/

Authors: Debra M. Eldredge, Liisa D. Carlson, Delbert G. Carlson, James M. Giffen MD

The First Aid Companion for Dogs And Cats

Publisher: Rodale Inc, 2001

Website: http://www.rodalebooks.com/

Authors: Amy D. Shojai, Shane Bateman DVM

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