Essential oils to treat severe feline oral and tissue trauma

This case study explores how integrating a variety of essential oils into a treatment plan for a young DSH female cat with severe oral tissue injuries.

A one-year-old DSH female cat was presented for severe injury to the mandibular bone, gingivae, and surrounding soft tissues. The trauma was caused by an embedded nylon collar; an elastic band holding two pieces of the collar together had slipped over the cat’s chin, entrapping the nylon behind her lower canine teeth. Substantial necrosis of the tissue covering the mandibular bone had occurred, exposing the bone for approximately 1” on both sides. Granulation tissue had already begun to form over the embedded collar, making surgical removal necessary To complicate the case further, deep-seated infection had set in. Copious purulent discharge was found throughout the necrotic tissue and where the collar had invaded the soft tissues of the oral cavity.

Cat sedated and ready for excision of collar/elastic band.
Cat sedated and ready for excision of collar/elastic band.

Poor prognosis

Lateral view of exposed mandibular bone and extensive swelling of chin.
Lateral view of exposed mandibular bone and extensive swelling of chin.

The prognosis was very poor to grave, due to possible osteomyelitis, sepsis and loss of soft tissue of the chin due to compromised blood supply. However, the caretaker for the cat’s elderly owner insisted we try heroic measures because the cat “was all she had to live for” Referral to a specialty center was discussed, but the family did not have the funds for this. Complications and prognosis were discussed in detail with the elderly woman’s family and her caretaker, but they still wanted to proceed with conservative treatment.

Essential oils a key part of treatment

Day 4: no more exposed mandibular bone; chin size has returned to normal.

The cat was sedated and prepped for surgery. After carefully excising the collar from the gingival and sublingual tissues, the wounds were lavaged with a highly diluted cleanser containing essential oils of cinnamon, clove, rosemary, eucalyptus and lemon. Short-acting penicillin and cefovecin (Convenia) were injected subcutaneously to control infection. Subcutaneous fluids were given to rehydrate the cat. Next, cotton applicator sticks were saturated with essential oil Blend “A” (clove, lemon, cinnamon bark, eucalyptus and rosemary) and applied to the open wounds. Blend “B” (helichrysum, wintergreen, clove and peppermint) was placed on top of the oils in the first blend. Then, an ointment containing mink oil, beeswax, lanolin, wheat germ, carrot and rosehip oils was packed into the wounds to help seal in the essential oils. Buprenorphine was given SQ for pain control.

Dramatic recovery

  • The next morning, the cat was ingesting a soft prescription diet for post-surgical patients without difficulty, even though she had not been able to eat or drink for days.
  • Three days of treatment with once-daily injections of penicillin and essential oils applied topically resulted in dramatic tissue regeneration and restoration of soft tissue.
  • On the fourth day, the cat was discharged without any take-home medications, since the caretaker and elderly owner could not treat her.
    Day 4: ventral view of healthy granulation tissue; no sign of infection
    Day 4: ventral view of healthy granulation tissue; no sign of infection.
  • At her two-week checkup, the cat was doing remarkably well. There were no signs of infection or tissue sloughing, and she continued to heal completely.

Therapeutic grade, pure essential oils can be successfully and safely used in cats, providing certain usage guidelines are followed. In this case, the oils were not diluted at the beginning, then dilution was performed at a ratio of one drop EO to three drops carrier oil. The severity of the wounds and resulting infection necessitated aggressive therapy. In the author’s opinion, tissue regeneration and infection control were greatly enhanced by the use of essential oils. Healthy new tissue covered the mandibular bone in just four days, and the grossly swollen chin tissue returned to normal in the same time frame.

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