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Ask Dr. Michael Salkin Your Own Question
Dr. Michael Salkin
Dr. Michael Salkin, Veterinarian
Category: Cat Veterinary
Satisfied Customers: 28934
Experience:  University of California at Davis graduate veterinarian with 45 years of experience.
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My gerbil has a bloody nose. The first time it went away,

Customer Question

My gerbil has a bloody nose. The first time it went away, but is back again and he is scratching at his face. Nothing about his environment or food has changed.
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: Cat Veterinary
Expert:  Dr. Michael Salkin replied 1 year ago.

Facial eczema, sore nose, and nasal dermatitis all describe a common skin condition seen in gerbils. Clinical lesions adjacent to the external nares (nostrils) appear erythematous (reddened) initially; these lesions progress to localized alopecia and then to an extensive moist dermatitis. The cause is believed to be an increase in the secretion of porphyrins (chemical dyes) by the Harderian gland (of the eye) which acts as a primary skin irritant. Various staphylococcal species may act synergistically to produce the dermatitis. Stress may cause excessive harderian gland secretion. Two examples of stress are overcrowding and exposure to environmental humidity of greater than than 50% which causes the fur coat to stand out and appear matted. Gerbils require sand baths to keep their coats from becoming oily. Keeping Oreo in a dry environment, cleaning his face and providing soft clay or sand bedding instead of abrasive wood chip bedding will usually alleviate the problem. For severe dermatitis a pocket pet vet can prescribe either topical or systemic antibiotics.

Please respond with further questions or concerns if you wish.

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Thank you. He has sand for two litter boxes and for bedding plain shredded paper bedding (sold by pet stores). If I put a chinchilla sand box in for baths and a dehumidifier, will that help? Thank you
Expert:  Dr. Michael Salkin replied 1 year ago.

I think that that's a terrific idea. Don't forget to gently wash his face (chlorhexidine in the form of Hebiclens in your local pharmacy) and then apply a very thin film of a triple antibiotic ointment such as Polysporin twice daily. Please continue our conversation if you wish.