Saturday, January 31, 2015

Astonishing Secrets - My Cat's Ears are Orange and other Mitey Stories

Astonishing Secrets is about sharing tips about how to help your pet, before you are able to take them into a vet hospital to be checked over thoroughly.
"How Mitey are you?"

This one is focusing on a common question I (and I am sure other vets too) get asked, about whether mites could be a cause of their pet's skin problem.

And the answer is .... yes, they could be, but no, I can;t tell tell if that is what is causing the problem in your pet!

Many of the mites that our pet's suffer from are not visible with the naked eye, and strangely, many of them do not make our pet itchy at all.

For example - demodectic mange is not itchy in dogs ,but it is in cats. It isn't an infectious type of mite either.  Sarcoptes mite is an infectious mite, but dogs in the same household aren't always infected.  Ear mites are highly infectious and notoriously difficult to get rid off (if the number of ear mite infections I see from reputable breeders is any gauge, as I am sure they are doing all they can to eliminate the infection)

Below, I am sharing a few of the "mitey" problems we have seen at Russell Vale Animal Clinic.

The photos and videos below are taken from my own patients. 

The Chigger Mite...

This is one of the more visually impressive mite, because even though they are not visible to the naked eye on their very own, as a collective group, they are bright orange!

In other words, there is nothing else that would produce an orange layer on your pet's ears.

Microscopically, they are easy to see through a superficial scraping and examination under a microscope.  Even your own supermarket bought microscope would pick these ones up.
Trombiculid Mites -  taken 2015 using my microscope camera

Other names: Chigger Mite
Harvest Mite
Trombiculid Mite

The infection is often called Trombiculiasis.

Avoidance of the bushy environment is ideal, otherwise re-infection is common.
I use Frontera Spray over the entire body, as this often provides up to three months of protection against re-infection.

The Red Mange...

In all of Dr Herriots books, the talk of this mange brought frustration as it was either incurable, or cleared up on its own.   These days, the situation hasn't changed that much, as in some dogs, the condition is incurable, simply because of how the immune system is intrinsic to whether the condition is cleared or not.


Video taken in 2006 using an Olympus camera on my microscope

Demodectic mange is the most common, easily diagnosed cause of hair loss (or dermatitis) in young dogs.  Whilst it can occur in older dogs too, the way it shows in those dogs is usually in the feet only.  Younger dogs can have patches of hairloss anywhere over the body.

It is classified into various forms, but put simply
- localised only - less than 3 spots
- localised, pustular - less than 3 spots that look red, and likely itchy (because of the secondary bacterial infection)
- generalised  - more than 3 spots
- generalised pustular  - more then 3 spots but itchy red sores
- adult onset non pustular - no infection but dogs are older than 2 years of age
- adult onset pustular - itchy dogs with red sores that are older than 2 years of age

Diagnosis is fairly straightforward through multiple skin scrapes and assessment under a microscope.

Treatment is not so easy, as there is a range of treatment options, with your local vet able to advise you of their preferred option.   When our dog, Piper was diagnosed with demodectic mange, we chose the weekly injections of Dectomax for 15 weeks.  Other common options include daily ivermectin.

I am Dr Liz, and I am the vet from Russell Vale Animal Clinic.  If you have any concerns of your pets having mites, then they need a vet check and a skin scrape taken as soon as  possible.  In most cases, diagnosis is straight forward after a few skin scrapes (with the exception of a Sarcoptes  mites).

Thank you for reading.

If you have any questions, you can email me directly, or through posting comments below.