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What Is CUPS Disease in Dogs?

| Updated September 26, 2017

Dogs with constant mouth sores and tenderness may suffer from a disease called chronic ulcerative paradental stomatitis, or CUPS. This condition can cause a variety of uncomfortable symptoms for dogs and can lead to weakness from loss of appetite. An accurate diagnosis of the disease by your veterinarian is the first step in providing relief from the symptoms of the malady.

About CUPS

CUPS is caused by an immune system reaction to bacteria and plaque on the teeth. It is essentially an allergy to the bacterial buildup on the teeth. Several different factors can cause CUPS, including diabetes mellitus, thyroid conditions, liver problems, nutritional deficiency, immune system problems and toxic substances, according to the PetMD website. Chronic ulcerative paradental stomatitis is more prevalent in some dog breeds, such as cocker spaniels, King Charles spaniels, Maltese, Bouvier des Flandres and others.

Symptoms of CUPS

The CUPS disease causes severe and painful ulcers on the inner cheeks, as well as swelling of the gums, inflammation of the throat, loss of appetite, pain, plaque, scar formation and halitosis. The disease can be quite debilitating to the animal because the mouth pain can cause aversion to eating. This problem, in turn, can cause nutritional problems, weakness and general ill health. Dogs will not chew on their toys because of the discomfort, causing increased plaque buildup and increased reaction to the bacteria. Pawing at the mouth and chattering movements of the jaws may occur.

Diagnosis of CUPS

To determine if a problem is chronic ulcerative paradental stomatitis, the veterinarian must do a visual exam of the dog’s mouth. A complete panel of blood tests are done, including CBC, serum chemistry and urinalysis. A chest X-ray and electrocardiogram are often done. Laboratory analysis of the mouth lesions also helps to determine the disease.

Treatment of CUPS

Treatment begins with complete dental prophylaxis to remove bacteria from tooth surfaces. Problem teeth are extracted if necessary. A vet can apply to the teeth material that inhibits plaque formation to prevent further bacterial growth. Often a vet will prescribe antibiotics to contain mouth infections. These medications may include amoxicillin, clindamycin, metronidazole or tetracycline. Prednisone, a steroid medication, may be prescribed to reduce inflammation in the dog’s mouth tissues. CUPS may require lifelong management to contain the symptoms. Regular dental prophylaxis helps to reduce symptoms. For severe cases of CUPS, all teeth may be extracted to prevent the growth of bacteria. Though this may seem like an extreme treatment, it does resolve the disease. Dogs can eat and live normally without their teeth, with a few accommodations.