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Mice/mouse dermatitis treatment ?


QUESTION: Hi Natasha
I have written to you before regarding my mice.  You were very very helpful and very well educated on mice, so I have a question regarding my mouse Pegasus.  My other mouse Pheonix unfortunately all our desperate attempts died from persistent scratching, he scratched his ear off.  We brought him to the vet and unfortunately died the next day.  Now this is Pegasus's 2nd bout with this, I have changed vets, and they changed his medication to doxyciline, which sometimes he's ok, sometimes he's not.  The vet prescribed an aointment to Pheonic but unfortunately he died before I got to use it on him.  The vet hospital told me he was misdiagnosed for mites, he actually has rodent dermatitis. Ic hanged his bedding to unscented, white fluff bedding and use only white, soft blankets and his coat was slightly oily.  It seemed to  have cleared up for awhile but now it's back, he's on doxy, and he eats white rice, a pistachio nut, he likes vanilla ice cream, a little bit of oorn (he loves corn!) and maybe a little piece of bread.  He eats very well usually but now his appetite has decreased a bit, and is not as active.  It is also very hot in my apartment and is not as active in the day as he used to be.  He'll run on his wheel most of the night usually aftermidnight and I try to be his playmate as much as possible.  But he wants to run (and he is fast!) under coaches, etc, so I cant let him completely looose.  I give him a warm bath (only water) to help keep his coat clean and hopefully relieve his itching. But he continues to scratch everywhere and I know he is bored unless I gove over to the cage.  When he gets agitated he bites me and hard at that, and then it's time to put him back in his cage.  He sleeps on his wheel, instead of his house.  I read a few articles and they said I can use an anti itch spray or benadyrl.  What do you advise?  I'm going in for knee surgery on Tues. so I need to have my husband feed properly! and I certainly love my little baby boy more than anything, but unfortunately money is so tight with this upcoming surgery on me, I would so appreciate your advice and I won't let my baby die, which is what the vet had recommended if he didn't improve.  I won't give up my little guy, he's not suffering, only squeaks out of frustration when he ggets no relief from scracthing. No open wounds or lesions, but his skin on his ears is scaly, lightly crusty and has a few bumps on his head, loves to be massaged softly which I do along his face cheeks and the his body and he loves it.  So what do you advise?
Thank you for your time.

ANSWER: Dear Marianne,

This isn't something I can do off the top of my head; however I ought to learn about it. We can do some research together. Please read through this, figure out what makes else, and write back. Let's look at a couple of factors.

I haven't gotten a sense from your letter of whether the issue is only the ears or the rest of his body.

You have gone to an "exotics" or "pocket pets" vet, right?

He is suffering quite a bit; mice don't show pain. Squeaking means it is serious,


1. I assume the vet means it is rodent ulcerative dermatitis; thus, not allergic dermatitis. This makes sense for something on the body.

Do these descriptions make sense?

Did your vet give you one of the ointments in the top chart here?

Another link of description and suggested remedies, including Vitamin E and Omaga 3 and 6:

If any or all of that fits, and if the ointment is any of those listed, then certainly use the ointment.

1a. At the same time, get some Vitamin E oil or gel caps. If you get the gel caps you have to cut one open. Take some of the Vitamin E oil and cut it with olive oil until it is a consistency you can spread onto the itchy areas (this is a two for one-- I wanted you to try oil on his skin and get Vitamin E in him). Don't use more than about half a teaspoon. And feed him walnuts and pumpkin seeds for the Omega fatty acids. Actually, putting a little flax seed oil in with the other might be good too.

If he gets runny poops stop the oils.

2.  If it is just on his ears, it is likely to be something else, especially with the other guy scratching his ear off.  Ears are affected and, in the end, can even disappear, by something somewhat uncommon called sarcoptic mange. This is actually caused by an external ear mite. The treatment for this strange affliction is simply to treat for mites. You say the vet thought the problem had been misdiagnosed; does this mean you had already treated for mites? He should get a drop of Revolution on the back of his neck to make sure. Since you have already been to the vet, I would think they would be willing to let you have a small dose without another appointment. Some vets standardly give kitten doses without appointment. You must use kitten, cat, or puppy; NOT dog. Your vet may not know you can give it to mice. You can part the fur at the back of his neck and dab on a drop. Gently rub it into the skin. This should kill anything that bites him for a month.

3. Benadryl will help if it is an allergic reaction. There is no reason not to try it. He can have one drop of liquid Benadryl several times a day. If the vet thinks it might be an allergy, they can give him prednisone.

4. Why is he eating such a strange diet? He should be on a mouse seed mix. Did the vet know about his diet? Dietary deficiencies can cause all sorts of horrible ailments. Give him a mouse food mix but take out the corn (a common allergen) and peanuts (contain toxic molds).

5. I don't know why the vet put him on doxycycline. That is an antibiotic. Perhaps he thought this might be exacerbated by or exacerbating an immune deficiency and wants to make sure the mouse doesn't fall prey to any other infections. No need to stop it anyway.


So, my immediate recommendation -- after "go back to the vet with this information," which I am pretty much obligated to say, since it is always the best thing to do and far better than talking to me-- if it were my mouse I would do the following:

1. One drop Benadryl 4x a day
2. One drop Revolution on back of neck once
3. One mini oil bath (Vitamin E, olive, and flax seed oils) once a day; no water baths - stop the oil if he gets runny poops.
4. Start him on a normal mouse mix sans corn or peanuts; do give him roasted walnuts.

These remedies all treat every factor except the mange directly itself. I will have to do some more research with knowledgable friends to figure appropriate ointment that you can get OTC. It looks, by the links I gave you, like it is hard to treat. So let's see if these steps clear it up first.

You may be wondering: "but if it goes away with these remedies, how will we know that works?" which is a very valid question. However, when a mouse is really suffering, I let the mouse trump the science. Relieve the mouse and then figure out what did it. I don't have to talk about that part yet because we are not there yet, and you will be writing me again :)

You can write me back right away or you can wait a few days to see now he does. I don't know how long you will be in the hospital. You or your husband can contact me during that time anyway. But hopefully the mouse seems a little better with the suggestions I am offering.

In the meantime, I will see what I can find out about treatment for rodent ulcerative dermatitis, if any of my vet tech friends can find out for me :)

As for out time and escaping, throw a bunch of little boxes, TP rolls, small towels, a wheel... into the dry bathtub with a towel on the bottom. If you make it a little different every day, he should like it.

Best of luck and health to little Pegasus!



---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------

QUESTION: Hi Natasha thank you so very much for answering me with such great detail, I am so lucky to have found someone who knows so much and who cares about these little guys.
Unfortunately, I can't contact a vet at all today, and the hospital I brought him to doesn;t have a vet for exotic pets that treat mice until Wednesday and this poor little guy needs some relief.  You are a wealth of knowledge and I absolutely donate to all causes for animals.  However the hospital wanted to do further examination at that time, with a biopsy and scaling of his skin which would cost upwards of $500 and we just cant do it right now (bad timing) due to my upcoming surgery which is a huge financial cost even with insurance.  So I called Petco, searched on line to further educate myself on what exactly he has, since he and my other mice have been msidiagnosed ( I work in the medical field myself for over 20 yrs and due to misdiagnosing MY problem for so many years and a whole lot of money, that now I knee major surgery which I am not surprised, the medical industry will ALWAYS lead you to wait for the higher cost of procedures, a sad FACT, trust me.  So I am not so surprised that I am given all kinds of different info on animals as well.  I left out a lot of information re: Pegasus simply because I was just trying to give you just details to correct the problems ASAP without a long email and being annoying.  His diet varies, as much as humans dislike the same diet ALL the time, so do animals, so I try to keep it varied and since they are nocturnal, it's quite hard to see exactly how he is doing while he is up and about.  He in general has a good appetite and was originally the one who I bought sick with my other mouse Pheonix, but Pegasus bounced back each time, and unfortunately despite every attempt to curing Pheonix, he died which tore my heart out because not only my love of animals, and I gave it my ALL.  And always will to animals.  Once I am healed I promised that I would change fields and devote the rest of my life (I"m only 51) to animals because as you live, you learn and love more.  They have no voice, therefore, I vowed that at this time in my life, I dedicated a whole of my time and knowledge to the medical field, now it's time for my time being devoted to animals.  I volunteer as much as possible to animals currently and once I'm healed, and move to Florida in the next few months, I will take a job and donate my time to animals, rescue, training and release (if they are wild animals).  I plan to rescue at least one horse for the slaughter house once I make the move and a puppy and kitten.  So I can appreciate and value your time to me and my issue because this is the direction I am going in to.  It isn't all about money.  So he's diet is this: oatmeal, rice, corn, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, pistachio nuts (unsalted and cleaned) and walnutts, plus small pieces of fresh cleaned cucumber, peas, carrots, corn, a small piece of lettuce and 2 cheerios, even a tiny bit of vanilla ice cream which both my mice love and tolerate very well and cooked brown rice..  I have another mouse, Athena, which is an albino fancy mouse and she is fine, but a picky eater and a few months younger than  Pegasus.They are housed seperatel, although I do allow them to visit each other while I hold one at all times, because I don't want them to reproduce.  And they preen each other until Athena gets bored and walks away.  I sometimes give them extra protein in the water with a powder especially made for mice who are picky eaters that I bought at Petco and they both tolerate it well.  So both their diets are well mixed and varied.  I was NOW told to change from white unscented bedding and get the grey Cleanfresh bedding, which I think is made out paper.  I was also told a bit of molasses if they are finicky, rolled in the oatmeal and cereal and a tiny piece of bread.  I know have him up to keep him active and to keep an eye on him and he is running all over the table with white unscrented fresh soft blankets a few tubes and other small toys.  I was told to continue to doxy only, Everything is always clean and disinfected as directed by vets as well as mice experts such as yourself, which i value greatly.   i was a;ways told to go into any field that concerns the treatment and care and more than anything to have the passion, dedication and especially the love of what I do, and was told to be either a doctor or vet many times.  I was told to discontinue to the prednisone and batryl and keep him only on doxy for now so after exhausting my every resource including every bit of information I can get, it gets confusing, very confused when so much information is given to me, and meds, because I do everything possible.  I interact with both them as much as I could, and I love doing so with any animal, I just want him to be comfortable as possible, possible diagnosed correctly (ideally would have the biopsies done but financially I'm not able to as now) so I reach out to every resource I can find.  So I am at a loss with him, and I cant put him down because he doesnt always exhibit discomfort.  He loves to play when I can, is very curious despite his itching, which is still a good sign, still loves his food, no matter how much he eats, as long as he eats.  IF it doesnt taste good to them, it is of no benefit if they are not going to eat it and get nutrition at all.  So I just re-eaxmined him, and he not used to be up this time of day, but he was all for play time and running around, but still scratching, so I just put him down back in his clean cage to sleep hopefully.  Sometimes he's lethargic and other times he's not.  And sometimes he squeaks and other times when I hold him he's very quiet and settled.  I will try the Vitamin E capsules and re-intriduce slowly, his diet, as it varies anyway.  I just can't seem to locate what he is allergic to.  And as I said he was examined under a microscope for parasites as well as I did, and it was ruled out for mites, ticks or anything else.  I see no bloody spots, no dark spots, nothing moves on his skin (I have a powerful microscope as well). I hope that covers everything, and I so appreciate any help whatsoever to help my little guy.  And I certainly don't want him to die, not before his natural time or if there is no cure in sight which I don't believe yet, then and only then will I do the humane thing and put him down.   I know when enough to stop and relieve suffering of any nature, I have gone thru many personal and professional experiences to know when enough is enough.  I can't give up on him as yet.  And he's certainly not giving up.  I was also told never to use the 8 in 1 on mice at all under any circumstance by vets, yet some people say to try it. I'm trying not to poison him, overdose him, etc.  And he just may pull thru and live out his life healthy as can be albeit a very short life span. He's come this far already.  

Thank you again Natasha, it is so much  appreciated for people like you that will tap into other resources, go beyond, ask for help for anyone you know, after all this is how we ALL learn.  I know in my heart, that he can be cured.  Otherwise, I would never allow him to suffer at all.  He just needs to get over this hump somehow.  

If there is a phone number I can reach you at or anyone else at that may be able to help, I would greatly appreciate it since I know emails sometimes does not allow every question to be answered.  And I certainly have to be able to educate my husband on how to care for him in particular right now following my surgery on Tuesday.  I have to have knee surgery and they just don't know how bad the knee is until they get inside, but I will certainly on my feet as soon as I can, I'm not a good patient at all and hate being idle for any reason.  I love what I do,I love the medical field and I still have much to do in terms of my life......know what I mean?I played drums (rock n roll, music from Led Zeppelin and such)and I had to put my drumsrticks down because of my arthritis in my hands unfortunately and playing that hard for 30 yrs I knew when enough was enough, Very hard decision to make. But I did.  I need my hands for other uses and now I lend my knowledge and experience to other beginner drummers who want to know the "tricks of the trade" and am very happy to do so.  This is who I am, just to give you a better understanding of myself as well as my need to help this little creature.  I had to put my dog and my cat down, which they both lived a very happy and well life, both living into late teens.  And the vet knew I knew when it was time, they both lived well beyond even what the vet expected them to.  It was one of the hardest things to do, extremely hard but they knew they were loved in the end.  And that makes me happy.  



So he is not better.

1.  Have you been giving him the Benadryl?

2. Have you gotten him some Revolution? Even though the vet checked, sarcoptic mange is very different from other mites and would have to be tested for specifically-- and I doubt the vet thought of that.

3.  However, you also haven't told me whether he itches all over or just on or near his ears?

And do make him up his oil treatment.

I have always listened to my breeder, and so when he recommended 8 in 1 flea and tick spray, I recommended it too, and it works. I also found that it is extremely painful for some mice, and so I often recommended the bird version, which is half as strong as the rodent one. Later he found he preferred using a very diluted liquid ivermectin. I managed not to have mites between when he told me that, and when I first got some Revolution (my mom had it for the cat), so I never used it. But apparently it does not have the painful side effects that the 8 in 1 spray does. In any case, Revolution is always best. You do not have to soak the mouse, and you only have to repeat it once a month if trouble reappears. And the mouse never knows you did it. I would not recommend the 8 in 1 for him at all. I do not know how well the ivermectin could work if it was sarcoptic mange. I really recommend the Revolution. But in general, yes, one can use 8 in 1. it is still unpleasant for all involved.

So.. Please try everything I suggested, all at once, to see if we can help him. He is not a happy mouse.

It is wonderful that you want to give yourself to animals.

I have the policy not to give my phone number out; however if you are on Facebook I am the only Natasha Millikan on there. I run a group called Rats and Mice are Awesome, though the Facebook name omits the mice: Rats are Awesome.

I see Facebook messages quickly. I usually look for mouse questions 3-4 times a day-- though I might not answer them immediately;  and I might check my email twice a day, later losing your message. If you aren't on Facebook, send me a private message and I can give you my email there.




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I can answer questions about raising mice and caring for them as pets, with knowledge from my 38 years of having fancy mice as pets. I have NO MEDICAL TRAINING and you should take a sick mouse to the vet; but if you simply can't, I will try to help you. I LOVE PHOTOS!!! I ALSO LOVE UPDATES! Let me know how the little tyke is doing later on, for better or worse, especially orphans. It also helps me to help the next person. Please first search first: use 'Natasha Mice Mouse' with whatever else your question includes. Or check out these links: **** YOUR FIRST MOUSE (my video; rough draft): **** TEN VIDEOS ON RAISING ORPHANS: **** SEXING MICE: **** And some GREAT MOUSE INFO SITES:


I have had mice for 40 years (since I was 5!). I raised them when I was a child but now I keep all females, and never fewer than three so that if one dies the others are not devastated, because they have each other.

I run Rats and Mice are Awesome on Facebook. The official name is Rats are Awesome.

B.A., M.A., M.A. in Linguistics: Yale University and University of Connecticut

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