Posts Tagged ‘parasites in cats’

Rodent ulcer 1

Rodent ulcer in a 16-year-old cat, pre-treatment. Photo by Little Creek Veterinary Clinic.

If your cat shows up with a fat lip and she hasn’t been in a fistfight lately, she may have a rodent ulcer. Rodent ulcers (like the one shown above) typically appear on the upper lip, usually as a small swelling. Over time, and with frequent licking, the area can enlarge and ulcerate.

Rodent ulcer 2

Rodent ulcer, 13 days after beginning treatment. Photo by Little Creek Veterinary Clinic.

Rodent ulcers, also known as eosinophilic ulcers, are the result of eosinophils gone wild. An eosinophil is a type of white blood cell that releases biochemicals in response to an allergy or the presence of parasites. Sometimes, the biochemicals released by the “eos” attack the cat’s own tissue instead of an invading foreign body. The target area of the eos’ action becomes inflamed and sore.

Rodent ulcer 3

Photo by Little Creek Veterinary Clinic.

Rodent ulcers can be difficult to resolve. Anti-inflammatory medications may be called for. Recently, some veterinarians have begun using allergy medication with limited success. The patient in these photos was treated with a combination of medications, including an allergy drug, with immediate results. The patient’s ulcer reduced in size and the lip swelling decreased.

Rodent ulcer 4

Photo by Little Creek Veterinary Clinic.

Stubborn cases of rodent ulcer may require biopsy (to rule out cancer) and further study, including parasite treatments and food trials.  

If you notice a sore or swollen area on your cat’s lips or tongue, have your veterinarian check it out. Early treatment may help prevent permanent disfigurement.

Tip: remove plastic food and water bowls and plastic toys, as they can be irritants to cats sensitive to plastics.

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This post originally appeared on January 24, 2013.

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     If you’ve been following along with our Under the ‘Scope series, you know I’ve blogged about Tapeworms, Hookworms, and Roundworms.  (If you haven’t read those posts, click on the links and read them now.) 
     I mentioned in the last post that I’ve been hoping to show you photos of Coccidiae and Whipworms, as well.  As it turns out, we’ve had a recent spate of dogs, both young and old, battling Coccidiae.  This is what we’ve seen under the microscope:

This is what we see at "medium" magnification. Photo by Jennifer Miele.

     Not too helpful, is it?  Coccidiae (that’s the plural of “coccidia”) are among the tiniest parasites we search for in your pet’s fecal sample.  Now look at this photo with some of the coccidia oocysts (spores) labeled for identification:

Click to enlarge and read the labels. Photo by Jennifer Miele.

     Now look at the oocysts under higher magnification:

Two highly magnified coccidia spores. Photo by Jennifer Miele.

     Now look at the coccidia as seen under an electron microscope:

     If you’re thinking that looks an awful lot like a jellyfish at the Virginia Aquarium, you’re right.  I have no idea how that snuck in there.  My apologies to everyone who reads this blog.  Anyway, now you know where I spent my Sunday. 

     Okay, let’s try this again.  Coccidia spore under super-intense hyper-fraznik electron microscope:

EEEEEEEEK! Photo by Jennifer Miele

     All right, all right, I’m messing with you.  Little tiny coccidia spores do not grow up to become sharks.  That’s the good news.  The bad news is, if your cat or dog is infected with these protozoan parasites, it may suffer chronic or intermittent diarrhea.  Left untreated, the infection may progress to the point that your pet has bloody stools, vomiting, and loss of appetite.  In rare cases, death may occur.

     Treatment for coccidiosis (the disease cause by the coccidia infection) is effective and uncomplicated, provided the illness has not progressed to a serious level.

     Coccidia species tend to stick to dogs and cats as their hosts.  A notable exception is Toxoplasma gondii, which causes toxoplasmosis in humans.  Many women are familiar with this disease, as it is to be avoided at all costs during pregnancy. 
     Toxoplasmosis can be contracted by handling cat fecal matter or contaminated litter.  For this reason, a pregnant woman should ask someone else to clean the cat’s litterbox, or she should wear thick gloves and wash well after the task is completed.

     There is no preventative product on the market for coccidiosis.  Your pet should remain on its heartworm/intestinal worm preventative year-round, even though it will not protect against protozoan parasites. 
     Be vigilant in noticing whether your pet’s bathroom habits have changed.  If you suspect a parasite infection, notify our clinic so that we may examine a specimen under the microscope.  Who knows?  Your pet’s parasites could be the next ones featured on Under the ‘Scope!  ~~  Jen

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