Feline Tooth Resorption / Odontoclastic Resorptive Lesions

Dr. Kevin Roeser

Feline tooth resorption, also known as Feline Odontoclastic Resorptive Lesions (FORLs), cervical line lesions (CLLs), neck lesions, cervical line erosions, and feline caries/”cavities”, are a common dental concern for cats. These lesions begin just below the gum line and progressively invade and destroy the affected tooth. As the tooth structure is damaged, the pulp (nerve and blood supply of the tooth) is exposed. This can result in chronic dental pain – think of it as a major toothache!

It is estimated that well over 50% of all cats will experience this disease at some point in their lives. Tooth resorptive lesions can be found in cats as early as 18-24 months, but most affected cats are middle-aged. Asiatic breeds (Abyssinians, Siamese, and Himalayans) may be predisposed, though all breeds may be affected. The cause of these lesions is yet unknown.

Symptoms of resorptive lesions, if present, are typically related to the pain they induce. This may include resistance to oral manipulation (i.e. brushing teeth or giving oral medication), increased salivation, dropping food, showing a preference for canned/moist diets, or appetite loss. It is important to note that cats are careful to not show pain and many cats will not exhibit symptoms, even with significant disease.


Your veterinarian may notice tooth resorptive lesions during your pet’s routine physical examination. Advanced lesions are often easily visualized as defects in the enamel surface, and portions of affected teeth may actually be missing. Earlier lesions are sometimes identified upon probing or palpation of the inflamed gums – any areas that cause your cat to “chatter” (a pain response) should be closely examined. Dental radiographs are ideal to rule-out other early lesions, but may not be necessary in all cases.


Currently, our recommended treatment for tooth resorption involves extraction of any affected teeth. No successful tooth-sparing therapies have been identified. Your veterinarian can discuss the details of anesthesia and dental extractions on a case-by-case basis. This is typically an outpatient procedure, meaning your pet will mostly likely go home the same day as the procedure. Pain medications and potentially a short course of antibiotics are prescribed during the recovery period. Many cats appreciate a few days of softened or canned food following dental extractions, but the majority of patients resume a normal diet shortly thereafter.


We recommend that you discuss a plan for regular dental care with your veterinarian. This should involve both at-home components (brushing, dental chews, or dental rinses) and routine professional dental cleaning. Cats with one lesion noted are at greater risk for the development of additional lesions in the future. As such, it is recommended that these cats should have dental examinations performed every 6 months.

We want to promote year round dental care for our patients. As such, we have eliminated our Pet Dental Health Month promotion in February. Instead, we offer a year round coupon for $30 off a dental procedure if scheduled within 30 days of receiving an estimate. If you think your pet has dental disease, please call us at 651-645-2808 or email us at group@stfrancisabh.com to set up a dental examination.

Grain-Free Diets & Cardiomyopathy in Dogs

There is recent concern that grain free, exotic protein, and boutique diets have a potential connection with causing heart disease in some dogs. There may be increased risk in certain breeds (ie. Golden Retrievers). Researchers are currently investigating the association of these diets and heart disease.

Given the possible risks, we would recommend reconsidering feeding a grain free diet unless your pet has a specific food allergy that would require such diet until more information is available. We will continue to provide you with updates as they are available.

Article: Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association

Title: Unusual Pet Diets May Be Linked To Heart Disease by Greg Cima: July 11, 2018

Some specialty diets may be causing heart disease in dogs, and researchers are trying to identify the connection.

Dr. Lisa M. Freeman, a nutritionist and professor at the Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine at Tufts University, wrote June 4 on the university's Petfoodology blog about a 4-year-old Beagle-Labrador mixed-breed dog saved from life-threatening dilated cardiomyopathy with treatment and a change of diet. Before treatment, the dog had been eating grain-free pet food containing kangaroo meat and chickpeas.

"It appears that diet may be increasing dogs' risk for heart disease because owners have fallen victim to the many myths and misperceptions about pet food," she wrote. "If diet proves to be the cause, this truly is heart-breaking to me."

Anne Norris, a spokeswoman for the Food and Drug Administration's Office of Foods and Veterinary Medicine, said the agency is studying a possible connection and will share more information when possible. Dr. Freeman had noted that the FDA and cardiologists are investigating a possible link between diet and dilated cardiomyopathy.

A dog or cat with dilated cardiomyopathy has an enlarged, weak heart, which can cause abnormal rhythms, congestive heart failure, and death.

Cats and at least some dogs can develop dilated cardiomyopathy if their diets contain too little taurine, an amino acid found in meat and milk. It is a neurotransmitter and cell membrane stabilizer, among other functions, according to the National Institutes of Health. Despite the known link between dilated cardiomyopathy and taurine deficiency, most dogs that develop the disease have taurine concentrations within reference limits. The cause of cardiomyopathy in those dogs is typically unknown, but Dr. Freeman wrote that she has seen a consistent connection with boutique diets.

The Cummings Veterinary Medical Center also is warning people that they should tell a veterinary cardiologist if their pets have heart disease and eat foods that are homemade, raw, or vegetarian or that are made by small companies.

Information from the Morris Animal Foundation, which is funding research on dilated cardiomyopathy at the University of California-Davis, indicates the number of dogs with the disease may have increased recently among Golden Retrievers. Dr. Josh Stern, a cardiologist, is studying potential genetic links between Golden Retrievers and the disease.

"I suspect that Golden Retrievers might have something in their genetic make-up that makes them less efficient at making taurine," Dr. Stern said in an article from the foundation. "Couple that with certain diets, and you've given them a double hit. If you feed them a diet that has fewer building blocks for taurine or a food component that inhibits this synthesis, they pop up with DCM."

Dr. Freeman recommends that owners submit a report to the FDA when their dogs are determined to have dilated cardiomyopathy. The Department of Health and Human Services accepts reports to the FDA.

We will continue to keep you updated as we learn more about this topic.

St Francis Animal & Bird Hospital: Who We Are

St. Francis Animal & Bird Hospital has been part of the Roseville community since 1992. It was founded as a small family business, out of a garage, with a distinctive vision about what the practice of veterinary medicine should be. The vision was powerful, and since those early days, St. Francis has continued to grow and thrive in the community.

Our vision remains strong. We make a commitment each and every day to create a unique experience for our clients, to exceed expectations, and to strive for excellence. On the outside, we may be a small neighborhood clinic packaged in a tiny building, but on the inside, we are creating a legacy.

Above all, we specialize in relationships. We serve as an extension of our clients’ families, creating unique relationships with each individual, providing an environment of mutual trust and respect, and providing compassionate care for our patients as if they were our own family members.

We want you to know each of the amazing team members that care for your loved ones. Each month, starting in August, we will highlight a member of the team in order of length of employment at St Francis. To learn more, you may also click here to visit our website.

News Briefs


Congratulations to Katie Cartledge and Colby Lowrey on July 13th!

Congratulations to Cate Boisjolie and Danny Murphy on July 21st!

Take Your Cat To The Vet Day

Did you know that August 22nd is Take Your Cat To The Vet Day? To schedule an appointment for your feline friend, please call us at (651) 645-2808.

Amanda Hernandez, CVT

Congratulations to Amanda Hernandez, CVT for celebrating her 10 Year Anniversary at St Francis Animal & Bird Hospital. Thank you for the years of care and love you have provided to our patients!


Image Credit: chendogshan / iStock /Getty Images Plus