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Ear Infections

Endocarditis

Eosinophilic Granuloma (Rodent Ulcer on chin)


Ear infections or Otitis Externa

 

Causes of otitis or ear infection include:

*ear mites or Otodectes cyanotis which cause a red/brown discharge and intense scratching of the affected ear.

*a foreign body such as a grass awn.

*a generalised skin allergy caused by mainly an inhaled skin allergy (atopy) or a food allergy.

*tumours or benign polyps that block the ear canal in older pets.

It is important to have your pet seen for an otitis as it can result in a burst eardrum and deafness if not treated. It can be very painful and we do tend to treat your pet with anti-inflammatory tablets and an injection initially.

We always need to look down your pet's ear with an otoscope to make sure that the eardrum has not been perforated, but if this proves too painful, then your pet will need at least 2 weeks of oral antibiotics and painkillers.

Further tests for otitis involve:

*microscopic exam to look for earmites by taking a sample of ear discharge. The brownish 'coffee granule discharge' is in fact dried blood and ear mite faeces produced from the numerous mites biting your pets' ears.

*taking a swab and sending this to the laboratory to find the exact bacteria or fungus causing the problem and treating with a specific antibiotic.

*full sedation and an ear flush if the ear is infected or an investigation if a foreign body is suspected. We tend to clean away as much infected material as possible.

Treatment of otitis

*to administer liquid ear medication, gently but firmly hold your cat's ear and insert the tip of the bottle into the ear canal. A squeeze of the bottle should be all that is needed. Massage the ear canal between your finger and thumb.

Do NOT use cotton swabs as they push the wax further down and may puncture the ear drum. You can use small pieces of cotton or tissue to clean the external part of the ear. When using an ear cleaner, use gentle massaging and wiping. Too much pressure can easily rupture an unhealthy ear drum.

It is important to treat ear mites by applying the drops twice daily for a week, leaving the treatment for a week and then reapplying the drops twice daily for another week.

This will treat any ear mites that hatch from eggs. Treat all affected pets in the household as ear mites tend to be very contagious. Some anti-parasitic drops will kill ear mites too.

We are able to dispense these skin drops as part of the ear mite treatment.

*broad spectrum antibiotics.

*painkillers or anti-inflammatory tablets to reduce the swelling and alleviate the itching in allergic pets.

*long-term management of itchy ears may benefit from anti-histamines and essential fatty acids or a dietary change to a non-allergenic diet if the cause is a food allergy.

*keep your pet free of parasites by regular flea and mite treatment

*use good general parasite control against fleas in allergic pets as once they start scratching, they tend to end up scratching their ears too.

 

Endocarditis


Endocarditis is inflammation of one or more of the valves within the heart due to infection by bacteria. Thankfully it occurs rarely in cats. If severe, the affected valve stops working properly and so the animal begins to show symptoms of heart failure.

Endocarditis occurs when bacteria spread from another part of the body to the heart via the blood.

Infections of the mouth and teeth are of particular importance so good dental hygiene and regular dental checks may help to prevent endocarditis from occurring.

Symptoms

The symptoms are extremely variable depending on how bad it is. If the infection is very mild then there may be no signs.

If a valve is severely affected then the animal will show signs of heart failure ie coughing due to fluid on the lungs, breathlessness and excessive fatigue.

The bacteria can break off the valve in a particle called a "thrombus" and spread to other sites in the body: this can be fatal since the thrombus or clot can block blood vessels, preventing blood from reaching important organs such as the brain.

Treatment of Endocarditis

The infection can be treated using antibiotic injections which must be administered by your vet. Antibiotic tablets will then be required for at least 4 weeks since endocarditis is a particularly difficult infection to clear. If there are already signs of heart failure then the prognosis is poor.

Recurrent infections are a problem in spite of long term antibiotic therapy, and there is always the risk of a clot formation.

 

Eosinophilic Granuloma or Rodent Ulcer


This is a sometimes painful ulcerative area occurring on the lips of cats, usually where the skin joins the lining membrane of the mouth. The affected area may gradually become larger.

It is usually found in the region between the mid-line cleft of the lip of the cat and the canine tooth on the upper lip.

The problem may occur on one side or both and occasionally may be seen elsewhere. The edges of the ulcer are hard and raised and the broken skin irregular. The base of the ulcer is pink.

In most cases the problem is a visual one rather than presenting any real problem for the cat, but sometimes very deep ulcers may cause pain and reluctance to eat, and the affected cat may be unable to groom itself.

A wide variation of treatments have been applied in cases of eosinophilic granuloma, reflecting the lack of any one successful treatment. It would seem that the most successful approach is a four to six week course of the steroid prednisolone.

This may resolve the lesion, but, if not, it may be followed by surgery or cryosurgery where the affected area is frozen. Whatever treatment is used, recurrence is common and the treatment may have to be repeated.