Monthly Archives: November 2010


This is also called Aural Hematoma. It is a firm, blood-filled swelling that usually occurs on the concave or anterior portion of a dog or cats ear flap (pinna).  Much less frequently does it occurs on the posterior portion of the ear pinna. It often is small but left untreated it can fill up the entire ear pinna very quickly.  Most of the time it occurs as the result of  intense scratching or violently shaking of the head and  ears. There are many tiny capillaries under the skin of the ear and when some rupture blood oozes out between the cartilage of the ear and the skin.  It does not interfere with hearing, but is very troublesome to the dog or cat as they continue to shake their head and scratch at it. The underlying causes of hematomas include  infections, allergies, insect bites, self-inflicted trauma to the ear, ear mites, fleas, ticks, dog or cat fights, etc. The treatment is  empirical: treat the underlying cause, stop the head shaking/scratching, and fix the hematoma. This usually requires general anesthesia and surgery. Unlike all other surgeries which require the skin to be sutured together, this surgery 1st requires drainage of the hematoma of all blood, blood clot removal and cessation of bleeding capillaries. But,  the skin is not sutured together– the space is obliterated by suturing the ear through and through, front to back. That means sutures go from the anterior portion of the ear, through the cartilage, to the posterior portion of the ear. This obliterates the space so there is no place for any oozing of blood to accumulate. The incision made to drain the hematoma  is long and narrow and ideally slowly closes itself so healing occurs from the inside out. Bandages, Elizabethan collars, pain medications all are utilized to relieve discomfort until the healing process has occurred. This often takes several weeks. It is a highly successful and common operation and is done by most veterinarians. If left untreated, the ear usually shrivels up as scar tissue sets in, and  becomes a very unsightly thick and wrinkled ear that can predispose the dog to additional ear problems as the ear canal becomes compressed.

Getting a New Pet? Things to consider

This is the time of the year when many people are “in the market” for a new puppy or kitten. There are many things to consider before you make this commitment and I am going to list just a few of them. 1. Do you have the time to properly care for and raise a new pet? 2. Do you have the financial resources to care for it properly? 3. Are your children old enough to understand the responsibility of pet ownership and help care for the new pet? 4. Do you have enough room inside for the size of the dog when fully grown and enough space outside for proper exercise? 5. Are you familiar with the personality and characteristics of the breed you chose and its ability to adjust to your lifestyle? 6. Do you know enough about the place you plan on making the purchase or adoption at? 7. Have you checked out the “animal shelters” and “pet rescue centers” before making a pet store or breeder purchase. It could save a life. 8. Are there any allergies in the household? These are just a few of the things to consider. I have written many articles to help you in your decision making. These include: “Where to Get Your Pet”, “Designer Dogs”, “Why Pets are Beneficial to Children”, “Pets and Allergies” and “Are Pets Healthy for You”, etc. I strongly urge you to read them first because too many times mistakes are made, especially with impulse buying. Just recently a client realized that too much of her time was being taken away from raising her young children by the needs a young puppy and training. She chose to give up the puppy and we helped her find it a good home. These scenarios occur too often, and with a lot of heartache and expense. There are definite guidelines to follow. For instance: researchers have indicated that age 4 is the youngest a child should be for proper understanding of the responsibility of pet ownership.

Bedbugs–You and Your Pets

There are several reasons that bedbugs have become a national epidemic recently. These include an increase in travel, especially international travel, a decrease use of pesticides in the house, the elimination of DDT and similar pesticides from the market, plus a resistance developed to pesticides in general. Infestations are all across America, and the world, and have been for centuries, but they are more prevalent in hotels, dormitories and high turnover residences. These bugs not only harbor in mattresses, but also hide in bed frames, cushions, and cracks and crevices near couches. They are also found in luggage, clothing, furniture and automobiles. They are not dangerous, and so far there has been no evidence that they transmit any diseases to humans or animals. Unlike fleas and ticks, they can not live  on your pet. They can and do bite and cause an intense itch and redness at the site, and usually cause allergic reactions. They are blood suckers, and primarily feed at night for only a short time. But, they can go for months, up to a year, without eating. They are reddish-brown, oval and flat much like a beetle, only smaller, larger than a flea and more oblong than a tick.  In humans, most bites are of the torso, but they can and do bite anywhere, especially if the infestation is severe. Flea bites in humans often are of the lower legs around the ankles. Lately, veterinarians are suspicious of bedbugs  if a dog or cat is scratching and there is no evidence of any live fleas,  flea dirt, or ticks.  If people in the household are itchy and loosing sleep at night because of the desire to scratch, then bedbugs are considered to be a cause. Some clients confused bedbugs with ticks, but most ticks are attached to the skin of the host, while bedbugs do not attach themselves to the skin.  The natural predators of bedbugs are cockroaches, ants, and spiders. You don’t want any of these in your house either, so  if you suspect bedbugs you should call in a licensed exterminator.  Vacuuming the premises, especially the mattress, bed frame, etc. helps as it sucks up the live bugs,  eggs, feces and immature forms of the bugs, which should be put with the garbage and burned. If you use a professional exterminator, make sure you remove all pets from the premises as some pesticides used are very toxic to dogs, cats and birds, etc.

Rodent Ulcers

This is a lesion of cats, not of rodents. They are also known as  Indolent Ulcers. They fall into a category known as the Eosinophilic Granuloma Complex that we see frequently. This complex manifests itself in 3 forms: the rodent ulcer, the eosinophilic plaque and the eosinophilic granuloma. The underlying cause of this complex is allergy. Allergy to something, or many things, or a lack of an innate ability to fight off an allergic reaction.  This is known as immuno-deficient, a genetic problem. The most common form is the ulcer which manifests itself as an erosion of the edge of the upper lip. The plaque is less common and shows up on the skin of the lower abdomen or inner thighs. The granuloma form is even less common and manifests itself as a swollen lower lip or line of erosion  down the inner thigh or raised patches on the pads of the feet.  All  3 forms of this complex have one thing in common: a high concentration of a type of blood cell known as the eosinophil.  These cells only manifest themselves in cases of parasitism or allergies. The concentration of eosinophils cause an intense itch and constant licking, rubbing and scratching are the primary symptoms. Some cats will pull their hair out and even bleed.  As in human medicine, there is no cure for allergies unless the offending substance is found and eliminated from the environment, which is rare. Some common causes are plastic/rubber feeding and water dishes, the feeding of dairy products, and foods high in carbohydrates.  Sometimes a “food trial” is recommended if food allergy is suspected. Blood tests and/or intradermal allergy testing for airborne allergy might be also recommended. Any breed of cat is susceptible as  well as the mixed breeds. Fortunately, as with other allergies, this complex is successfully treated but not curable. Many treatments have been tried with varying success. They include progesterone, chemotherapy, radiation,  cryosurgery, and even  gold salts. The most success has been obtained with steroids. The lesions respond well to injectable  repositol steroids. These are long lasting for up to 6 months. During this time the cat is comfortable and does not show any intense licking, scratching or rubbing symptoms. Although there is a down side of using steroids for long periods of time, the majority of cats seem to tolerate it well, especially if treated in the early stages.  Some cats only need 1 or 2 injections in their life  but the majority of the time these lesions do recur