Mice/pet mouse bleeding ear
QUESTION: Hi there,
I have a little female mouse that I have had for just under a year. About two weeks ago I noticed that she was more quiet than usual and took her to our rodent vet. The vet showed me that she had bloody ears and prescribed that a solution called revolution be put on the back of her ears every ten days. We have also had her on an antibiotic for the last ten days. At this point it appears that the bleeding from inside the ears has subsided a bit but she is still incessantly scratching the one side of her face, so badly that now she has a big bloody raw sore that appears to have lost a layer or two of skin. Im really worried about the sore. I feel the vet should have given me something to cover the wound so she doesn't make it worse. I have read in your other posts that one can perhaps use betadine- is this safe and do you think it would be appropriate to use on her? Would it need to be diluted at all?
Your help would very appreciated!
ANSWER: Hi Kristal,
I am assuming the vet prescribed the Revolution for mites or lice, which certainly fits the symptoms, but remember that sometimes other things can cause itching too including allergies, ringworm, or even neurological symptoms. If the itching and bleeding don't go away or get worse after a little while more of trying, it would be best to also explore other avenues to fix what's making her scratch at her face to begin with.
In the meantime, I am not sure if the vet mentioned, but it's important to combine treatments like the Revolution with a complete cage-cleaning each time, as mites can live in the bedding, too, and hop right back on after treatment. The best way to do this is to replace all bedding (new bedding can be frozen for 24 hours before using to kill mites that frequently come in from warehouses and pet shops), soap down and thoroughly clean the cage and all cage parts and toys, and replace or remove any absorbent or wooden toys. Doing this each time you put Revolution behind her ears ensures that ALL the mites or other parasites will be eliminated from her environment, and the itching should stop.
In answer to your main question of how to protect her wound, there are two great things you can do. The first is betadine like you mentioned. Betadine does not cover it, but it does painlessly disinfect it to keep it from developing a local infection. You can safely do this 1-2 times a day IF you can do so without stressing her out or getting it all over her face. If not, it would be better to stick with an antibiotic ointment, which I will review in a moment. Betadine can be diluted with warm water to the color of tea - get a small cup of plain, warm water and add a few droplets until it reaches that nice, tea-like color. Then you can use a cotton ball or tissue (never use a Q-tip around the face, as it's easy to accidentally poke her in the eye) to soak up a bit of the solution and dab it on the area gently. Let it sit for a few seconds, then use another tissue/cotton ball soaked with plain water to remove it. You don't have to get it all off as it is pet-safe, just whatever you can to keep it from getting messy or staining.
If this isn't practical to do, which sometimes around the face it just isn't, instead try washing your hands very well and putting a tiny dab of triple antibiotic ointment (just like you use for people) on one finger. Gently apply it to the wound - it does not need to be worked in and you definitely do not need very much. It's okay if she grooms this off - the ointment that remains will trap debris and the antibiotics in it will help to keep the area clean. This can be done 2-3 times a day, but remember that you don't need very much, because a lot of it will end up in her tummy. Sometimes this is easier, since you can do it while petting her, and you don't have to "cover" her with a big, scary object like a tissue.
I hope I helped, and please let me know if I can clarify or assist with anything else! Best of luck,
---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------
QUESTION: Thank you so much for your great and precise advice!! I will certainly do everything that you have suggested. I just wanted to ask you one more thing- I usually clean my mice's cages with ordinary dishwashing soap 3 times a week, but considering that there most likely are mites in the cage, would it be safe for me to use bleach in a tub of water to soak the cages in, or should I just stick to cleaning with dishwashing soap?
Dishwashing soap is wonderful, but bleach is the best when it comes to disinfecting. You don't need to use very much, either - I usually use a spray bottle of 1:10 bleach (1 part bleach to 10 parts water), which is what vets recommend to kill most bad stuff, or I fill my bathtub enough to cover the bottom of the cage and pour bleach for about one to two seconds from the jug. When cleaning with bleach it is very important to rinse it off completely afterwards, and to wear protective gloves (just like dishwashing soap, it's a base that will make your hands feel slippery as it acts on your skin). Be very careful not to splash it in your eyes, and it will bleach clothes.
You also don't need to bleach each and every time you wash the cage, since you are already washing it pretty frequently. Once every 10 days is enough to eliminate mites and any eggs, too, and you can keep using dishwashing soap as needed for normal cleanings.
No problem, and I'm glad to help!