Q & A- April 13, 2011
It’s that time again. Time to field some questions from my Twitter friends. Here we go!
1) From @AJEbsary “Why is there no cure yet for rat mycoplasma?”
First, I have to admit I have not thought about rat medicine since vet school… so this will be reaching back into the files in my brain…
Mycoplasma is the most common and well-known cause of respiratory infections in rats. Most respiratory infections in rats are assumed to be related in some way to Mycoplasma infection. It is very common and it is suspected that most rats obtained from places such as pet stores have already been exposed and may already be carriers. Mycoplasma itself is a fairly fragile organism and there are antibiotics that are effective against it, though it is difficult to completely eliminate the organism from animals, so many may remain carriers for life even without symptoms of illness. Also, it is often not the only infectious organism involved in respiratory illness, and when symptoms are noted it is often because the animal is also infected with other organisms, many viral, at the same time. Since viruses can not be treated directly, the illnesses are often not eliminated by just treating with antibiotics for Mycoplasma. Also, many animals that are having severe signs may also have other medical or immune issues causing the mycoplasma organism to make them clinically ill. The organism does not tend to live long outside the host, so keeping the environment and bedding clean and the area well ventilated is very helpful. The buildup of ammonia from dirty bedding can irritate the respiratory tract and make illness more likely. Use materials for housing that are easy to clean and disinfect such as plastic as opposed to wood.
Although the author is not a vet, I have read good things about this website with info about rat health and care from veterinarians who specialize in their treatment.
I hope this helps!
2) From @tweet4animals: “From my mom… How long does a cat stay prego?”
First- I like your mom’s style. You can tell her I said that.
To answer her question, the normal gestation for a cat is 63-65 days, though Siamese cats may go a couple of days longer. A vet can often diagnose pregnancy by palpating the abdomen at around 3-4 weeks along. At 6 weeks and on, x-rays can be used to confirm as well as predict the number of kittens. Most, but not all, cats will seek seclusion when they are ready to give birth. Many become restless and may refuse food and water for 12-24 hours prior. Most cats do not require assistance, but it is important to make sure the membranes are removed from the kittens’ noses and mouths so that they can breathe. You may require veterinary assistance with the birth if you notice a kitten is stuck in the birth canal, the mother has strong contractions for 30 minutes without producing a kitten, there is a discharge with no births within a few hours, or there is mild labor for several hours with no kittens born. So… there you go!
3) From @mimismutts: “Dear Cranky Vet, what 2 use for ear mites in dog that won’t burn her, she has never had them before she’s 4yrs old and much loved”
Itchy dirty ears are a very common problem of dogs and cats. While there are many over the counter products for ear mites, contrary to popular belief, ear mites are relatively uncommon in adult dogs and cats except for stray and feral populations. If you notice your dog has red, itchy, dirty, or smelly ears, it is more likely a bacterial or yeast infection. Some breeds such as cocker spaniels and basset hounds are predisposed due to their heavy, floppy ears which do not allow good air flow and trap moisture. Ear infections are also a very common manifestation of food and seasonal allergies, so a multi-faceted treatment approach may be necessary. The most important thing to do first is identify what is causing the infection. This can easily be done at a veterinarian’s office with an otoscopic exam and a look at the organisms under the microscope. Mites, yeast, and bacteria all have a unique appearance and can be readily identified. Cultures can also be taken of the material in the ears to determine the exact identity of the organism and the most effective medication to treat it. Usually, a deep and thorough ear cleaning is needed to remove all of the debris to allow any topical medications that may be prescribed to work more effectively. I would advise that you have a veterinarian examine the ears first to make sure the ear drum is intact before applying any cleaner or medication into the ear. Depending on the severity, oral medications for inflammation, allergies, and infection may also be needed. Left untreated, chronic ear infections can cause many long-term problems, including neurological problems, hematoma of the ear flap, and calcification of the ear canal and permanent damage that can not be reversed. There are no effective medications to treat bacterial or yeast infections available over the counter. Here is a great link with reliable information about ear infections in dogs.
Thank you for your question!
4) From @sizah1: “Did you hear about the miracle chihuahua of Dublin, VA? http://tinyurl.com/3bgrldn”
I hadn’t heard about that. Lucky dog! Though, I don’t tend to do warm and fuzzy commentary…
This concludes another fascinating entry of Ask the Vet Q & A. Thanks for reading!