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Matthew Sisk: Ear mites cause Leai to scratch her hair off
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My hair is thinning. Not too rapidly (knock on wood), but it is happening.

It began years ago, and luckily for me, is a slow process.

My significant other offers me words of denial, but that’s more a sign of the goodness of her heart than a confirmation of my locks.

Most cats never have to deal with such a genetic destiny. So imagine my interest when Leia’s appointment this morning is for “feline pattern baldness.”

Leia has lost all the hair on her ears, as well as a small area around each ear base.

The skin is red and itches. So much so, that when I give her my customary feline patient head rub, she goes into uncontrolled foot-tapping, and scratches her ears with a violent thrumming of her rear foot.

A glimpse inside her ear canals shows me a classic sign. Leia’s ears are filled with thick dark brown discharge. They itch intensely, so much so she’s scratched off all the hair in the area and is beginning to damage the skin.

An examination of a sample from the ears reveals a classic feline ear problem: ear mites.

Microscopic creepy crawlies that cause intense itching and can predispose to secondary infections, ear mites should be covered by the parasite prevention we dispensed for Leia months ago. But subsequent questioning reveals the issue.

Two weeks ago, Leia’s owner moved to a new home. Leia now has a large back porch to lounge on. But during the move, her medication was lost.

An employee at a local pet supply store assured Leia’s owner the over-the-counter medication they offered was just as good as Leia’s previous medicine. It wasn’t. The over-the-counter medication did not cover ear mites.

Leia’s porch offered an entryway for the mites, and she contracted them and has now scratched herself raw.

I prescribe medications to help with the itching, as well as to kill the mites. We refill the preventive medication, and the owner vows to never again trust medical advice from teenagers.

Leia head-butts me and is on her way.

Matthew Sisk is a practicing veterinarian from Habersham County. Have questions about your pet? He can be reached at mattsisk2003@yahoo.com

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