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Eosinophilic Granuloma Complex in Cats

By: Dr. Mark Thompson

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  • A food trial. Placing the cat on a hypoallergenic diet for a period of time may be utilized to assess the role of food allergens in some cats with eosinophilic granuloma complex.

  • Specific tests. Skin testing to identify offending inhaled allergens or specific blood tests for allergy may be recommended to evaluate some affected cats for atopy.

    Optimal therapy of any serious or persistent medical condition depends on establishing the correct diagnosis. Eosinophilic granuloma complex occurs in several forms and may have several potential underlying causes. If possible, the underlying cause should be identified before specific treatment is recommended. Medication with anti-inflammatory drugs likely will be recommended for affected cats. Your veterinarian will determine if treatment is warranted, and if so which specific medication is indicated.

  • Treatment is usually aimed at suppressing the inflammatory response to the allergic stimulus. Corticosteroids often are used for this purpose. Short-acting oral corticosteroids like prednisone may be safer than long-acting injectable steroids like methylprednisolone acetate, but often the injectable form is used because it is more convenient in that the owner does not have to administer pills repeatedly to the cat. It is also effective as there are a few injections of corticosteroid that often cause the lesions to regress with minimal or no adverse effects.

    Methylprednisolone acetate is given every two weeks until lesions are healed. Adverse effects of corticosteroids can occur in cats but are less common and less severe than observed in dogs. Identification and treatment of underlying allergic conditions may be necessary to prevent recurrence of the eosinophilic granuloma complex lesions. Other drugs that suppress eosinophil function may be necessary if corticosteroids are not effective or cannot be tolerated.

  • Antibiotics may be required to treat lesions that do not respond to steroid therapy alone, especially when secondary bacterial infection is suspected. Indolent ulcers in particular may be helped by antibiotic treatment.

  • Fatty acid supplements may be helpful and may decrease the amount of steroids needed.

  • Progesterone-like hormonal drugs such as megestrol acetate often are effective, but adverse effects are relatively common and can be severe. These may include uterine infection and mammary tumors. Therefore, these drugs currently are not recommended to treat eosinophilic granuloma complex.

  • Treatment for fleas is essential and should be performed in all cats, regardless of whether or not fleas actually are seen. Flea allergic cats can be very good at removing fleas by grooming themselves, and fleas and flea dirt are uncommonly seen. Flea medications that kill adult fleas before they can bite are required for adequate protection.

  • Allergy injections based on skin allergy testing (hyposensitization) may be recommended in cats that have recurrent eosinophilic skin lesions that do not respond to flea control.

  • A food trial may be needed to identify an underlying food allergy. During the trial, the cat must be fed a diet that contains only ingredients to which the cat has not been previously exposed.

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