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Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Loki's Abscess

Loki's abscess on his thigh. It is hard to see because
it is covered with fur, but hard and flat to the touch.

Today, I brought Loki in to the vet because of an abscess on his right thigh. He also has other skin problems - he scratches a lot to the point of scabs and his fur has a rougher feel to it. While this is frequently a sign of mites, not all scratching is caused by mites. Loki has always had some skin issues - being a rex probably doesn't help this any - and while mites were a definite possibility, I suspected something else - dry skin or infection or something.

The vet confirmed that Loki's lump was in fact an abscess - she drained some pus and found bacteria present. He also appears to have a skin infection (the abscess probably being related to the overall skin infection).

Loki behaved himself very well at the vet's - which was quite a relief. I am always worried he will bite if afraid or in pain, but so far, he has only bitten when he smells another rat.

An abscess is a collection of pus in the skin and they are quite common in rats if they scratch themselves or cut themselves. They can often be distinguished from tumors because they are actually in the skin - so they move with the skin. Skin usually passes over tumors, and thus you can move the skin around over the tumor without moving the tumor itself.

Treatment involves draining the pus. You can sometimes do this at home using warm compresses. I like to go to the vet so that I can also get an antibiotic to help make sure infection doesn't recur. I also fear the risk of pushing infected fluid back into the body - I just feel it is safer to let a vet handle this.

Loki is currently on Baytril and we are treating his skin topically with chlorhexidine wipes that we will use twice a day to try to eliminate the skin infections. If the wipes alone don't do the trick, he may need medicated shampoo. We are trying to avoid that option because Loki hates baths, and with his unstable temperament, we are nervous about forcing him into the situation.

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