Skip to main content
Gray cat with open mouth

Watch for infected teeth in pets

Q: Barbie, my 20-year-old indoor cat, sneezes and coughs as though she’s trying to clear her stuffy nose. Her teeth are bad, too. She doesn’t wheeze, pant or have other breathing problems, and her appetite and energy are good. Any ideas?

A: Barbie’s bad teeth may be the source of her problem. If any of the roots of the teeth in the upper jaw are abscessed, the infection may have extended into her nasal passages and sinuses, causing the clinical signs you are seeing. Her mouth undoubtedly hurts, too.

Have your veterinarian examine Barbie. If her teeth and gums are infected, your vet will likely recommend teeth cleaning, dental x-rays and extraction of any infected teeth.

If you elect not to have these treatments done, your veterinarian may prescribe “pulse” antibiotic therapy to keep the infection under reasonable control. Typically, an antibiotic specific for oral bacteria is repeated for a week every month. It’s available in liquid form to make administration comfortable even for sore feline mouths.

Editor’s Note: Other signs of poor dental health in pets include: swelling or bleeding in the mouth, abnormal chewing or drooling, reduced appetite, and tartar-covered teeth. Complete dental hygiene is important: Here are five tips for keeping your pet’s teeth healthy.

Lee Pickett, V.M.D. practices companion animal medicine. Contact her at

Protect your pet from the unexpected with Figo Pet Insurance, rated “Best Pet Insurance” by since 2017.

Advertisement for pet insurance.

More From Figo Blog
Kristin Levine with dog

We recently had the opportunity to interview...

Small dog playing with toy


Your dog won’t come up to you...

Dog and pet parent listening to music in front of speaker

Whether you’re rocking out to your favorite...

Woman drinking coffee and holding small cat near

On any given day, between 50 and 70 million...

Puppy crate training in progress

There are many tools I utilize when training...

Woman with dog looking at tablet

Since 2017 Americans have spent between $17...

Woman walking two dogs and checking her phone

Technology has changed almost every aspect...

Labrador Retriever retrieving a blue frisbee from the yard

One of the best things about owning a dog is...