Diseases of an inflammatory nature are perhaps the most common both in medicine and in veterinary medicine. The nature of this phenomenon is always different, but sometimes there are really interesting cases. These include eosinophilic granuloma in cats.
What it is?
Summarizing, we can say that this term refers to a wide group of inflammatory diseases of the skin of animals. There are various clinical forms, in many cases significantly differing in the nature of their course, but nevertheless, an inflammatory reaction is almost always noted. Most often, the skin is affected in some part of the body, as well as the oral cavity (in the photo).
Initially, it was believed that this disease can be initiated by dozens of reasons, including parasites, poor-quality food, stress and environmental influences, but today scientists are inclined to think that in almost all cases of granuloma is a peculiar manifestation of a local and general allergic reaction. Skin lesions in most cases itch very strongly, and therefore the animal constantly licks and scratches them.
Often, this pathology is somehow connected with flea dermatitis. Since the owners for a long time do not attach any importance to the constant licking of their pet, the disease can go very far.
What happens this disease?
Currently, veterinarians distinguish several forms of this pathology, including mixed cases. But we will consider the most common and typical:
- Eosinophilic ulcer (painless lesion). These neoplasms are found on the edge of the cat’s upper lip (both on one and both sides of it). It should be noted that in this case, the ulcer forms relatively quickly, covers a significant surface, and the affected area can noticeably swell. In especially difficult situations, damage captures almost the entire cat's face, and in the future, symptoms of eosinophilic granuloma in cats can be seen anywhere on the body.
- Eosinophilic plaque. They can develop anywhere, but most often they are found in a cat on its stomach. Appearance - extended, flattened "cakes" on the body, their surface is usually red or dark pink. As a rule, hair does not grow on the plaques themselves, they itch very badly, which is why the cat constantly licks them. Gradually, these lesions spread over the entire surface of the abdomen.
- Eosinophilic granuloma. They can also appear on any surface of the body, but almost always they appear on the tongue and palate, on the lip, as well as the hind limbs (especially on the inner surface of the thigh). As a rule, lesions are not particularly pronounced, at first a slight thickening of the skin appears, and only then neoplasms "grow" at this place. At the same stage, massive hair loss is recorded.
Most often, single nodules are found on the skin surface, the surface of which is very dense and even rough. Sometimes lesions take the form of nodules or sores. Significant tissue edema in the same place is noted quite often. Redness is observed, ulcers appear, but there is no soreness. As we already said, the whole body can be affected, but the “favorite” places of occurrence are the muzzle and the inner surface of the hind limbs. In many cases, examination reveals swelling of the local lymph nodes.
If lesions develop in the mouth, the animal cannot eat and drink normally, and therefore signs of exhaustion and dehydration quickly increase.
The veterinarian must definitely distinguish this pathology from many other skin diseases that have similar symptoms. Fungal, bacterial or viral infections, tumors of benign or malignant etiology, abscesses, idiopathic diseases can cause a similar clinical picture. To confirm the diagnosis and exclude other causes, a professional histological examination of the tissues is required. In this case, the specialist will identify the characteristic signs of inflammation, as well as the presence in the tissue of a huge number of eosinophils. These are blood cells associated with the manifestation of the inflammation mechanism. In addition, they are often detected with allergies.
Thus, microscopic phenomena with eosinophilic granuloma are relatively typical, and therefore there will be no particular difficulties in diagnosis. The difficulty lies only in the differentiation of various forms of this disease, but in practice the need for this is very doubtful. Of course, an experienced veterinarian can confidently make a diagnosis based on visual signs.
When the diagnosis is made, the specialist should focus on identifying the root cause (especially allergic etiology). Very often, this disease develops after something insignificant: a cat’s fleeting contact with household chemicals, an insect bite, and the introduction of a new type of food into the diet. So before prescribing treatment, an allergic test must be performed.
Of course, in many cases, identifying a specific allergen can take a really long time (up to several weeks). But this is really important, since this approach allows you to correctly prescribe symptomatic treatment and avoid the use of those drugs that may be dangerous. Unfortunately, some cases of eosinophilic granulomas can be associated with autoimmune diseases, which can be very difficult to identify and diagnose.
Be careful! The fact is that the same lichen that is transmitted to humans, in some cases, can cause similar clinical signs. So in case of any inconvenience with your cat's skin, urgently contact a veterinary clinic, otherwise an unpleasant surprise may be waiting for you!
How is it treated?
Until now, there is no convincing evidence that some microorganisms can cause the development of eosinophilic granulomas. But it is precisely known that microbes sharply worsen the course of this disease due to the development of a secondary bacterial infection. In all these cases, a course of antibiotic therapy may help. Antimicrobials will not eliminate the cause of the disease, but they will significantly alleviate the condition of the animal. The duration of taking antibiotics is at least two to three weeks.
Treatment of eosinophilic granuloma in cats largely depends on the degree of neglect of the process and the underlying cause of the disease. If it is not possible to identify any predisposing factors, use symptomatic therapy. In the case when all visible manifestations are represented by one or two small ulcers, then they can generally be left (provided that they do not interfere with the cat). When the process initially shows a tendency to further spread, treatment should begin immediately.
Glucocorticoids (steroids) are the most common and highly effective drug that is almost always used for granuloma. They well eliminate inflammatory phenomena and, in addition, significantly relieve itching. Duration and dose vary depending on the physiological condition and age of the cat. Sometimes old cats have to prescribe long-term treatment with steroid drugs in small doses, as in their case it is difficult to achieve long-term remission of the disease.
But this is dangerous, since side effects with long-term use of hormonal drugs can be very serious. If long-term treatment is needed, it is best to consider alternative methods. They include the following:
- Antihistamines, which can help in almost all cases, since they effectively relieve itching. This treatment is available at home, but you should still consult your veterinarian first.
- Immunosuppressants such as cyclosporine or chlorambucil. They are useful if the granuloma has developed amid autoimmune diseases.
- Administration of hydrocortisone. This drug also belongs to the hormonal category, but its use does not cause dangerous side effects.
It is believed that the appointment of methylprednisolone acetate contributes to the onset of long-term remission of the disease in the cat. The introduction of these drugs is continued until all injuries have completely healed. Immediately tune in to the fact that it can take up to eight weeks. Visible and well-defined improvements can be seen in the first month. Only when all the lesions finally heal and completely disappear, do they stop prednisone administration, and do it gradually.
In cases where significant improvements cannot be achieved in eight or more weeks, all the necessary laboratory tests should be carried out again, since the reason is probably the allergen that was not previously identified or another cause of the disease. Methylprednisolone is indicated in these cases (to avoid process deterioration), but it is prescribed once every two to three months, not more often. In this way, side effects of hormone therapy can be avoided. Alas, it is only possible to cure granuloma with hormones, since there are no other means for this. Here's what to treat this pathology.
Forecast and Tips
What is the prognosis and prospects of a sick animal? If the granuloma was caused by an allergen, and it was possible to establish and localize it, then everything is guaranteed to be fine. In cases where skin lesions were more serious, some animals may require a long course of antihistamines. In this case, the prognosis may be inclined towards the questionable, since such skin lesions may not heal for a very long time. In general, this often happens after prolonged use of steroid drugs, due to a weakened immune system.
What can I advise the owners of such animals? Firstly, even after recovery, it is necessary to constantly monitor their health status in order to notice signs of a relapse of the disease in time. Secondly, it does not hurt to consult with an experienced veterinary dermatologist and allergist in order to choose the most harmless diet. If possible, it is better to use special feeds that contain no allergens.
Thirdly, if your cat is sick, and the process is complicated by a secondary infection, pay attention to maintaining hygiene: regularly remove the exudate that is secreted, cut the lumps of wool that are glued together. Any antiseptic ointment may also be used. Finally, regularly take your pet to the veterinarian so that he often conducts a routine examination of the animal.