What Is CUPS Disease in Dogs?

Dogs with CUPS suffer from painful mouth ulcers.
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Imagine living with constant mouth pain. That's the situation for dogs suffering from chronic ulcerative paradental stomatitis (CUPS). Once CUPS establishes itself in a dog's mouth, it's a tough disease to treat. Regular tooth brushing and veterinary dental care can stop CUPS before it starts.

Chronic Ulcerative Paradental Stomatitis

Although CUPS is similar to severe periodontal disease, it's not quite the same thing. It affects the paradental tissues, which are soft tissues in the mouth that contact the teeth when your dog closes his mouth. The condition's name aptly describes it. The paradental tissues become chronically ulcerated. Dogs with CUPS can't deal with any plaque on the teeth. Even small amounts trigger the subsequent ulceration and pain.

Predisposing Factors

While any dog might come down with CUPS, some breeds appear prone to the condition. This includes greyhounds, miniature schnauzers, Cavalier King Charles spaniels, Labrador retrievers, Bouvier de Flandres, dachshunds, cocker spaniels, German shepherds and Maltese. Dogs diagnosed with certain diseases, including diabetes, hypothyroidism, kidney ailments, leptospirosis and some cancers might also suffer from CUPS. Dogs with a compromised immune system are more vulnerable to the disease, as are animals suffering from malnutrition. In some cases, a foreign object stuck in the mouth can start CUPS formation.

CUPS Symptoms

Dogs suffering from CUPS experience pain from the mouth ulcers. Other symptoms include bad breath, thick saliva, appetite loss, gum swelling and creamy, soft plaque on the teeth. You might notice ulcers on your dog's lips, along with ulcers and swelling on his tongue. If he lets you examine his mouth, you might notice that the gums have receded enough to expose bone. His inner cheeks could also become ulcerated. In non-medical terms, his mouth is a mess.

CUPS Diagnosis and Treatment

Your veterinarian diagnoses CUPS after an examination of your dog's mouth and taking X-rays. After a thorough professional cleaning, your vet might recommend that you clean your dog's teeth at home twice daily. She might also prescribe topical medications for you to put on his gums to ease pain, along with antibiotics to combat infection and steroids for longer-lasting pain management. Your vet might recommend dietary changes, especially a switch to soft food. If other treatment options fail, or if a dog doesn't allow teeth brushing, he needs his teeth removed, according to the Animal Dental Care and Oral Surgery website. Although that's radical -- and expensive -- it does relieve your dog's pain and he should do well on a mushy food diet.