Burn Figure 1

Figure 1: Electrical burn of the mouth in a 10.5-month-old female rat (Scampers).
Case history and photos

History

Scampers is a healthy 10.5-month-old intact female rat that is provided supervised free-range time.
At some point during free-range play she was observed sprawled flat with legs out behind her chewing on an electrical cord. It looked like she was trying to pull away but was unable to do so, and the buzz of the electricity could be heard. I was able to quickly remove her from the cord, but found her unresponsive. My wife began to vigorously rub Scampers’ thorax while talking to her. She gradually responded to the rubbing. We quickly wrapped her in a towel to keep her warm, and rushed her to a local emergency veterinarian for immediate care.

Clinical Signs

  • Initial unresponsiveness resolved with vigorous rubbing to the thorax.
  • Inside of mouth and tongue burned with swelling to tongue and face.
  • Singed fur on right side of face below the chin.

Diagnosis

Electrical burn to oral mucosa resulting in inflammatory response and developing eschar.

Treatment

The vet monitored heart rate, did a burn assessment, and checked lungs. Prescriptions were given for the antibiotic Trimethoprim-Sulfa, along with an anti-inflammatory and pain medication Metacam. The vet also recommended the application of Aloe Vera Liquid several times a day for the mouth.

I was instructed by the vet to do the following:

  1. Watch her closely for the next 48 hours for fluid build up on her lungs.
  2. Feed soft foods and offer fluids (e.g. water) with a syringe.
  3. Return for follow-up visits for check-up on progress.

Follow-up

First evening / the day of burn

I remained up during the night to observe, and to give her some thin baby cereal to eat every 2 hours. She did manage to eat but did so very slowly. While she did not attempt to drink water, the baby cereal provided fluid nourishment.

First day post burn

Some improvement is seen. The swelling in her tongue has slightly decreased. She is moving around more, and exploring.

I have scheduled another vet appointment for a follow up. The Animal ER Center calls to check up on her in between visits.

Second day post burn

She is still not eating well, which is to be expected, but it appears the swelling has gone down little bit more. I am applying Aloe Vera Liquid for her mouth per vet recommendation, to help sooth and heal.

Fourth day post burn

Swelling of her face has come down a lot, and appears nearly normal. She isn’t grooming herself. She tries but as yet doesn’t seem to have the strength. I was able to give her a little sponge bath.

She is a bit more active, and wants treats that she can’t have yet. She must remain on a soft diet until there is more healing. She ate quite well today: about a teaspoon each of chicken and noodles baby food and some ice cream.

I have noticed that her right leg seems to be a bit weak. She will walk and then stumble with that leg, but just on occasion.

The animal ER has continued to call and check on her progress. Both vets that worked on her didn’t think she would survive at first with the extent of injury, and are very excited by her progress.

Her lungs remain clear; however we still have to keep watch for the presence of infection in her mouth.

One week post burn

She is pretty much back to her normal self. The vet has given the approval to take her off the pain meds and antibiotics, and she can now start eating more semi-soft foods. She still has some evidence of dead tissue that hasn’t fallen off yet, but there are no signs of infection. The swelling of her tongue has resolved, but a small amount of scar tissue is present. She has some excoriation to her anal area from diarrhea (we think due to the antibiotic). The vet has recommended the application of vitamin A & D Ointment, and prescribed Endosorb liquid.

Two weeks post burn

At 1:00 am I was getting ready to settle her for the night, and as I put her in her cage I noticed blood on her fur and around her mouth. I rushed her to the emergency vet where they sedated her and checked her. It turned out that she had merely scratched of the scabs at the corner of her mouth from the burn.

Two weeks, three days post burn

She is doing better everyday, and her mouth and tongue are healing nicely. She is still very sensitive to noise, but the weakness in her legs and stumbling has disappeared.

She is still on a semi-soft diet, and will know at her next check up, in one week, if she can start back on lab blocks. We have noticed that she has experienced some over all hair loss and we are attributing that to the stress she has endured.

Three weeks post burn

She had her final vet visit today and will not be seen again for follow-up until 6 months. She has healed nicely and only has a slight scar on her tongue and around the left side of her mouth. She has also stopped losing fur, and is back to eating a normal diet.

Outcome

The burns have healed with minimal scarring. The only residual effect noticed is a small “drooling” problem related to the burned area at the left side of her mouth. We are hoping that will eventually resolve.

We have also taken more precautions to ensure she has a safe environment.

Photos

pre-burn

Photo 1: Shows Scampers prior to electrical burn to mouth.
  post burn day 1

Photo 2: Day one of post burn. Swelling of the muzzle can be clearly seen.

Day 4 post burn

Photo 3: Day four of post burn. Able to eat soft foods.
  2 weeks post burn

Photo 4: Second week post burn . Area below mouth and to the left where fur was singed off and tissue white.

3 weeks post burn

Photo 5: Third week post burn. Due to some remaining weakness Scampers props self while grooming.
  healed

Photo 6: Additional view third week post burn. Facial swelling resolved.

Case history and photos courtesy of Harold and Scampers.

Acknowledgment to the following veterinarians on their superb treatment and caring response of Scampers:
Emergency veterinarian: Dr. Gretchen Humphries, http://www.animalercenter.com/
Primary veterinarian: Andrea M. Maceri, DVM, http://www.vetselect.com/

Cross-references

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