Allergic Causes respond to Diet + Medication

Question:
Our 4 year old Maine Coon cat, Pippi, has suffered with indolent ulcers that are under control with Hill’s z/d. In January, she had reddened gums. Our veterinarian put her on an antibiotic. Within three days she had severe loose stools, so we discontinued the antibiotic. Since then she has formed stools for weeks and then loose stools for a few days. Lately, she is experiencing seasonal allergies that cause severe itching. She startles with the itching and then frantically grooms her lower abdomen and the insides of her legs and arms. She has worn her once gorgeous coat to stubble. Is it time for prednisone?

Dr. Nichol:
Is this Pippi Longstocking? We better help this child. Having the trots and being goosed by sudden itches are certain to curtail her youthful adventures.  It’s time for a fresh approach.

To separate fact from suspicion a stool sample can be checked for parasites and bacterial overgrowth. But Pippi’s itching, overgrooming, and diarrhea may stem from food allergy. While hydrolyzed chicken diets like z/d (cq) are often helpful some kitties react with diarrhea.  I recommend a new diet trial with Royal Canin Rabbit and Green Pea. A daily, good-tasting, probiotic called Forti Flora (cq) can help by repopulating her intestines with healthy bacteria.

That indolent/rodent ulcer in Pippi’s history is an important clue. These stubborn erosions on the margins of the upper lips of cats may have both genetic and allergic causes. Some respond to a hypoallergenic diet; others need a medication called Atopica (cq). There may be a link between Pippi’s old lip lesion and her intermittent diarrhea and mad itching.

For an update on indolent ulcers I contacted skin specialist Dr. Rebecca Mount of Dermatology for Animals in Albuquerque. The good doctor’s response: “Indolent ulcers are part of a large group of clinical signs known as eosinophilic granuloma complex (EGC). EGC is most commonly due to an underlying allergy. Although prednisone would likely help in the short term, dogs and cats tend to progress with their allergic disease with age and generally require long term treatment. In Pippi’s case I would consider Atopica instead of prednisone.” You are doing the right thing to pursue a thorough diagnosis. Problems like Pippi’s are complicated but usually manageable.