14 Common Health Warning Signs in Dogs

By Dr. Karen Becker

 

When our dogs don’t feel well, or we suspect they don’t, it would be such a relief if they could just tell us, wouldn’t it? It’s incredibly stressful to have a dog who, for example, is clearly miserable judging by her hunched posture, tucked tail and sad eyes, and there’s no way to gauge what’s going on, how long it might last or how serious it is.

Even if you’re very disciplined about taking your dog for regular veterinary checkups, it’s still very important to be alert for changes in her health or behavior between visits. After all, you know your furry best friend better than anyone, and you’re her first line of defense when there’s a problem brewing beneath the surface.

The Morris Animal Foundation lists common signs to watch for in dogs that should always prompt a call to your veterinarian.1

1. Skin lumps or bumps — Most of the time, lumps and bumps on a dog’s skin are harmless, though they can be unsettling and ugly. However, it’s important to have new growths evaluated by your veterinarian. It’s rare that a growth requires emergency action, however, occasionally a mass like an abscess or cyst may require urgent care.

My recommendation when you find a growth is to monitor it. If it’s growing or changing quickly, you’ll want to see your veterinarian as soon as possible. However, if you notice, for example, a discoloration on the skin or what looks like a skin tag that doesn’t get bigger or change over the course of days, weeks or months, then just mention it to your vet at your pet’s next wellness exam.

2. Sudden collapse — this is an emergency! — When a dog collapses, it means he experiences a sudden loss of strength that causes him to fall and not be able to get back up. If a collapsed dog also loses consciousness, he has fainted. Either of these situations is an emergency, even if your dog recovers quickly and seems normal again within seconds or minutes of the collapse.

All the reasons for fainting or collapsing are serious and require an immediate visit to your veterinarian. They include a potential problem with the nervous system (brain, spinal cord or nerves), the musculoskeletal system (bones, joints, muscles), the circulatory system (heart, blood vessels, blood) or the respiratory system (mouth, nose, throat, lungs).

3. Dramatic weight gain or loss — If your dog seems to be gaining a lot of weight, it’s most likely a result of what she’s eating (e.g., a dry diet), how much she’s eating and a lack of physical activity (most dogs — no matter their size or age — don’t get nearly the exercise they need).

However, it’s also possible that a tumor in her abdomen can make your dog appear to be gaining weight or getting fat, so it’s best to give your veterinarian a call if your dog is getting bigger and you don’t know why.

On the flip side, often a loss of appetite is the first sign of an underlying illness in dogs. There can be many reasons your dog isn’t hungry or refuses to eat, but not eating can begin to negatively impact his health within 24 hours. And for puppies 6 months or younger, the issue is even more serious.

Weight loss is the result of a negative caloric balance, and it can be the consequence of anorexia (loss of appetite) or when a dog’s body uses or eliminates essential dietary nutrients faster than they are replenished. Weight loss exceeding 10 percent of your dog’s normal body weight will be a red flag for your veterinarian. There can be several underlying causes, some of which are very serious.

4. Changes in chewing, eating and drinking habits — If your dog is having difficulty chewing, there’s something painful going on in his mouth that needs investigating. Possibilities include dental or gum disease, a broken tooth or tooth resorption.

Changes in your dog’s appetite or eating habits can signal any number of underlying problems, from oral disease to a gastrointestinal (GI) disorder to cancer. If your dog is suddenly drinking his water bowl dry, it’s also cause for concern. Excessive thirst (along with excessive urination) are symptoms of several disorders, including urinary tract problems and kidney disease.

5. Non-healing sores or wounds — If your dog has a sore or wound that isn’t healing, the most immediate concerns are pain and the potential for infection. There are many nontoxic therapies that can successfully treat these wounds, including manuka honey, negative pressure wound therapy (NPWT), shockwave therapy and laser therapy.

Since sores that won’t heal can also be a sign of a more serious underlying disease such as cancer, I recommend making an appointment with your veterinarian for diagnosis and treatment.

6. Loss of energy — A lethargic dog will appear drowsy, “lazy” and/or indifferent. She may be slow to respond to sights, sounds and other stimuli in her environment. Lethargy or exhaustion is a non-specific symptom that can signal a number of potential underlying disorders, including some that are serious or life-threatening. If your pet is lethargic for longer than 24 hours, it’s time to make an appointment with your veterinarian.

7. Bleeding or discharge from any orifice — “Orifices,” or openings into and out of your dog’s body, include the eyes, ears, nose, mouth, anus and urethra. If you notice bleeding or unusual discharge from any of these openings, make an appointment with your veterinarian. Be aware that digested blood in your dog’s poop will appear as black tarry stools. Fresh blood in the stool indicates bleeding in the colon or rectum. Either situation is cause for concern and should be investigated as soon as possible.

Blood in your dog’s urine, called hematuria, can be obvious or microscopic. There are a number of serious disorders that can cause bloody urine, including a blockage in the urinary tract, a bacterial infection and even cancer. Vomited blood can be either bright red (fresh) or resemble coffee grounds (indicating partially digested blood). There are a variety of reasons your dog might vomit blood, some of which are relatively minor, but others are serious and even life-threatening.

8. Persistent cough — Coughing in dogs, unless it’s a one-and-done situation, generally indicates an underlying problem. Examples include a possible windpipe obstruction, kennel cough, bronchitis, pneumonia, heartworm disease, heart failure, and tumors of the heart and lungs. All causes of coughing require investigation, and in most cases, treatment.

9. Change in breath or body odor — A common cause of stinky breath in dogs is dental or gum disease, which is entirely preventable in the vast majority of cases. If your pet’s mouth has reached the point of emitting a foul odor, it’s past time to make an appointment with your veterinarian for an oral exam.

Poor skin and coat condition can cause unpleasant body odor in dogs, as can a yeast infection. If your pet’s normal “doggy smell” suddenly turns sour, give your veterinarian a call.

10. Persistent lameness, stiffness or limping — Mobility problems in dogs are always a sign of an underlying, often painful condition such as arthritis. There are many things you and your veterinarian can do to either resolve or effectively manage the disorders that inhibit your dog’s ability to move around comfortably, so it’s important to have him seen by your vet as soon as possible.

11. Difficulty breathing, urinating or defecating — A dog in respiratory distress will have labored breathing or shortness of breath that can occur when he breathes in or out. Breathing difficulties can mean that not enough oxygen is reaching his tissues. Additionally, dogs with heart failure may not be able to pump enough blood to their muscles and other tissues.

Respiratory distress often goes hand-in-hand with a buildup of fluid in the lungs or chest cavity that leads to shortness of breath and coughing. If your dog has sudden undiagnosed breathing problems or appears to be breathing harder, heavier or faster than before, he should see a veterinarian immediately.

Difficulty urinating includes discomfort while urinating, straining to urinate and frequent attempts to urinate with little success. If your dog cries out while relieving himself, seems preoccupied with that area of his body or is excessively licking the area, you should make an appointment with your veterinarian right away. There are several underlying causes of urinary difficulties, some of which can result in death within just a few days.

Your dog should poop at least once every day because it’s an important part of his body’s natural detoxification process. He’s constipated when he either has difficulty pooping (and the stool he produces is dry and hard), or he isn’t pooping at all. This is why it’s so important to keep an eye on those daily “deposits.” The quantity, color, texture and smell, along with the presence of mucus or blood in your pet’s feces (and urine), are all indicators of his general well-being.

Often, what passes from (or in the case of constipation, doesn’t pass from) your pet’s body is the first sign of a health problem, so you should regularly monitor your dog’s potty area and familiarize yourself with what “normal” looks like for your pet.

On potty walks, constipated dogs tend to look like they’re trying to go or need to go, but nothing’s happening. If after a few minutes of hunching and straining your dog doesn’t go or produces poop that is small, hard and dry, you can reasonably assume he’s constipated.

Sometimes constipated dogs appear bloated and painful, especially when trying unsuccessfully to poop. The stool a constipated dog does manage to pass is often darker than normal and may contain mucus, blood or strange debris. If your dog seems constipated, make an appointment with your veterinarian so she or he can check for underlying conditions.

12. Vomiting or diarrhea — Unless your dog vomits or has a bout of diarrhea as the result of eating something she shouldn’t have, which you have identified, it’s cause for concern. Chronic vomiting or diarrhea are red flag signs of an underlying problem that requires your veterinarian’s attention.

13. Eating more than normal — If your dog suddenly becomes food-obsessed (or more food-obsessed than usual), a relatively unlikely but potentially serious possibility is the presence of an underlying medical condition that causes excessive hunger, no matter how much he eats.

I recommend making an appointment with your veterinarian if your dog seems to be extra hungry even though he’s eating well, and especially if he’s also losing weight.

14. Excessive drinking, panting, scratching or urination — A brewing bladder infection, other types of infection, a metabolic problem such as Cushing’s disease and diabetes can cause excessive thirst and water consumption. Some forms of cancer cause pets to drink more. If your dog is drinking more water than normal, you should have her checked by your veterinarian to rule out an underlying condition.

Normal panting typically occurs when your dog’s body is overheating and is considered a natural, healthy response. Abnormal panting, on the other hand, may be a sign that your dog has a physical or emotional issue that needs further investigation.

Abnormal panting is excessive compared to your dog’s normal panting behavior and occurs during times when she isn’t overly warm and doesn’t need to cool her body down. It doesn’t sound quite like normal panting — it may be louder or harsher, for example, and requires more exertion.

If your dog suddenly starts panting at inappropriate times or the panting seems heavier than usual, you should be concerned, but there’s no need to panic. Make an appointment with your veterinarian to discuss your pet’s symptoms and have her checked out.

If your dog is scratching a lot, there can be any number of causes, all of which deserve investigation. A chronically itchy dog feels miserable, and in addition, underlying causes of itching almost always get worse over time when they aren’t diagnosed and effectively treated.

Excessive urination in dogs typically goes hand-in-hand with excessive thirst as discussed above. Both situations are clear signs of an underlying disorder that requires a vet visit.

 

 

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7 ways to beat dog arthritis

By  Sherman O. Canapp Jr., DVM, MS, CCRT and Lisa M. Fair, VT, CCRA, CMT and comments by diane weinmann

With early intervention and a multi-faceted treatment plan, you can help get the better of the common condition of arthritis.

If your dog has arthritis, he has lots of company. It’s the most common joint disease in canines. One in every five dogs older than a year is affected, and by the time a dog is ten or older, that incidence has increased to one in two.

Managing osteoarthritis (OA) often involves the palliative treatment of well-established disease using just a few therapies. But early intervention, coupled with a multimodal treatment regime, could do a lot more to reduce the effects of this prevalent disease.

  1. Diet and supplements

Nutrition plays a role in developmental skeletal disease. An excess of specific nutrients can exacerbate musculoskeletal disorders, and fast-growing, large breed puppies are at particular risk. For these dogs, controlled growth, optimum levels of calcium, phosphorus and essential fatty acids, and specific nutrients to enhance development are all essential to reduce the risk of developmental skeletal disease. In all dogs, providing proper nutrition during growth, and maintaining a healthy weight through life, can help minimize OA.

Diets that include or are supplemented with these nutrients may reduce inflammation, slow degradation, enhance cartilage repair and provide relief from discomfort:

  • EPA and DHA, two components of Omega-3 fatty acids, reduce inflammation and reduce pain associated with OA. EPA suppresses the enzymes associated with cartilage destruction.
  • Glucosamine is a precursor for glycosaminoglycans (GAGs), a primary component of joint cartilage. It may influence cartilage structure and restore synovial fluid. GAGs may aid in the prevention of OA.
  • Chondrotin sulfate is an important structural component of cartilage and helps it resist compression. It may reduce inflammation, stimulate synthesis of proteoglycans and hyaluronic acid, and decrease catabolic activity.
  • ASUs (avocado/soybean unsaponifiables) help protect cartilage from degradation. Studies have shown a synergy when glucosamine hydrochloride, chondrotin sulfate and AUS are combined. They help inhibit the expression of agents involved in cartilage breakdown.
  • MSM (methylsulfonylmethane) may have anti-inflammatory effects. Research suggests there may be increased benefits when MSM is combined with glucosamine and chondrotin.
  • SAM-e (S-Adenosyl methionine) can reduce discomfort associated with OA. Some studies even found it to be as effective for relieving pain as NSAIDs.
  • Vitamin E is an antioxidant. Oxidative damage caused by free radicals can contribute to degenerative joint disease. Vitamin E inhibits oxidation, but the levels must be higher than minimal requirements to achieve these benefits.
  • Vitamin C is well known for its antioxidant activity. Although dogs can synthesize enough to meet minimal requirements, supplementation may improve antioxidant performance. It is important to note that vitamin C supplementation can contribute to calcium oxalate crystal formation in susceptible dogs.
  • DLPA (DL-phenylalanine) is a natural amino acid used to treat chronic pain. It inhibits several enzymes responsible for the destruction of endorphins, pain-killing hormones. DLPA can be used as an alternative to NSAIDs.
  • Traumeel is a homeopathic formulation of 12 botanical substances and one mineral substance. It is purported to have anti-inflammatory, anti-edematous and anti-exudative properties. Traumeel is often used as an alternative to NSAIDs.
  • GLM (green-lipped mussel) contains anti-inflammatory components that may benefit joint health. Clinical studies of GLM powder added to diets showed it to be effective in reducing symptoms.
  • Several herbs have anti-inflammatory and analgesic properties, including boswellia, yucca root, turmeric, hawthorn, nettle leaf, licorice, meadowsweet and willow bark. Consult with a veterinarian experienced in using herbs.
  • Hyaluronic acid (HA) has been shown to slow the progression of osteoarthritis and decrease inflammation within the joint. Specifically, it increases joint fluid viscosity, increases cartilage (GAG) formation, and decreases degrading enzymes and cytokines. Over 70% of dogs have been reported to respond well to HA and improvement can be noted for over six months following administration. My clinical impression is that HA used alone is useful for synovitis and mild to moderate OA.
  1. Weight management and exercise

Obesity is a known risk factor for OA. Dogs with excess weight should be placed on a diet management program, which may include food and treat restriction, a change of diet, exercise and behavior modification. Weight management alone may result in significant clinical improvement.

Light to moderate low impact exercise is recommended to reduce stiffness and maintain joint mobility. Specific exercise requirements vary based on the individual dog, but short walks (15 to 20 minutes) two to three times daily are typically recommended. Swimming is an excellent low impact activity that can improve muscle mass and joint range of motion. Consistency is critical – exercise should be performed on a routine basis. Excessive and/ or high impact exercise should be avoided.

  1. Acupuncture and chiropractic

Dogs have approximately 360 acupuncture points throughout their bodies. Response varies, with some dogs showing significant improvements in discomfort and mobility. Some experience no obvious benefits and a few do not tolerate needling. Consulting a veterinarian trained in TCVM provides the best chance of successful treatment. TCVM can help with weight management as well as joint issues.

Chiropractic can improve comfort and mobility in dogs with OA. These dogs often develop improper spinal biomechanics secondary to gait changes. Adjustments can restore proper bony relationships and re-set receptors responsible for maintaining correct posture, balance and mobility.

  1. Rehabilitation therapy

This may be used in conjunction with other therapies. In some cases of mild to moderate OA, it may actually eliminate the need for additional medical therapies. The goals of rehabilitation therapy for dogs with OA include pain relief, maintaining or building muscle strength, flexibility, and joint range of motion, core strengthening and overall conditioning.

  • Cold therapy causes vasoconstriction to reduce inflammation, muscle spasms and pain. It benefits dogs with acute exacerbation of chronic arthritis.
  • Heat therapy causes vasodilation. It reduces muscle tension and spasm, improves flexibility of joint capsules and surrounding tendons and ligaments, and provides pain relief.
  • Transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS) reduces pain. It stimulates large cutaneous nerve fibers that transmit sensory impulses faster than pain fibers. TENS also increases the release of endorphins, which block pain perception.
  • Neuromuscular electrical stimulation (NMES) involves the stimulation of muscle fibers for strengthening. Dogs with OA typically lose muscle mass due to weakness and disuse. NMES may help minimize atrophy, and provide proprioceptive, kinesthetic and sensory input directly to the muscle as well as give pain relief.
  • Therapeutic ultrasound (TUS) uses sound energy to affect biological tissues. It provides deep heating of tissues and can increase blood flow, collagen extensibility, metabolic rate and pain thresholds. It can also decrease muscle spasm.
  • Low level laser therapy (LLLT) may have positive effects on injured cartilage and may also reduce pain.
  • Extracorporeal shock wave therapy (ESWT) uses sound waves characterized by a rapid and steep rise in pressure followed by a period of negative pressure. Mechanical and chemical effects on a cellular level may stimulate healing and modulate pain signals.
  • Manual modalities:

Stretching – Most dogs with arthritis have some inflexibility due to shortened muscles and joint restriction. Performing gentle passive range of motion therapy and stretching can increase overall range of motion. Heat therapy applied prior to these therapies enables collagen fibers to be maximally stretched.

Joint mobilization – May help improve joint range of motion and decrease pain in dogs with mild to moderate OA. It involves low-velocity movements within or at the limit of the dog’s range of motion.

Massage – Decreases myofascial pain, adhesion formation and muscle tension, and increases vascular and lymphatic circulation. Can help reduce edema, improve blood flow, decrease muscle stiffness and improve muscle flexibility and joint mobility.

  • Therapeutic exercises can be of significant benefit. Most dogs with OA have moderate to severe muscle atrophy and loss of motion within affected joints. Therapeutic exercises maintain and rebuild muscle mass, strengthen muscle force, maintain and improve joint range of motion and overall function and conditioning.
  • Hydrotherapy includes underwater treadmill and swim therapy. It encourages range of motion, and improves muscle tone and mass with reduced stress to joints and tissues. Hydrotherapy can help relieve pain, swelling and stiffness, improve muscle mass and tone, increase joint range of motion, and improve circulation.
  1. Regenerative medicine therapy
  2. a) Stem cell therapy

Published literature supports the use of stem cell therapy (SCT) to treat OA in dogs. Most veterinary research has focused on adult stem cells, specifically mesenchymal stem cells. MSCs decrease pro-inflammatory and increase anti-inflammatory mediators.

  1. b) Platelet-rich plasma (PRP)

The concentrated platelets found in PRP contain bioactive proteins and growth factors. These work by binding to cell surface receptors and activating intra-cellular signaling cascades. They promote cell proliferation, cell migration and differentiation, and work as antiinflammatory factors counteracting the inflammatory cytokines at work in arthritis.

SCT and PRP are often administered together.

6. Assistive devices

These provide assistance with mobility. Booties can provide traction for slippery surfaces. Orthotics provide support to joints and can improve comfort. Slings and harnesses can be used to assist dogs when rising, walking, climbing stairs and during elimination. Carts provide independent mobility for dogs that have difficulty walking.

7. Conventional medications – NSAIDs and corticosteroids

NSAIDs have been the conventional foundation for treating symptoms of arthritis. They have anti-inflammatory, analgesic and antipyretic properties. However, serious adverse effects can occur, especially with chronic use. These most commonly include gastrointestinal, renal, hepatic and coagulation disorders. The goal is to use the minimal effective dose when other treatments are not successful.

In the treatment of severe arthritis, an intra-articular corticosteroid may be beneficial.

It can provide pain relief for end-stage osteoarthritis. Response to treatment is typically seen within a week and benefits may last a year or more.

Once established, canine osteoarthritis is incurable. But if joint problems are diagnosed early on, and managed with a range of integrative therapies, you can help stave off the debilitating effects of arthritis, and that means greater longevity and quality of life.

As an animal communicator and holistic healer for pets, Diane Weinmann recommends NuJoint Plus and NuJoint DS (double stuff) for a dog who has arthritis.   Here is some information regarding the product below:

NuJoint Plus® K-9 Wafers

Hip and Joint Support

 

MSM supplies biologically active sulfur to animals’ joints. Use of MSM has been shown to reduce the rigidity of cells in the soft tissues of the body. By reducing this rigidity, fluids are able to pass more freely from the cell and this helps to reduce cell pressure.

Glucosamine provides the joints with the building blocks needed to for good health.. Acting as a catalyst, Glucosamine helps animals synthesize new cartilage caused by wear and tear. Hip and joint discomfort can happen when normal wear and tear break down cartilage.

Chondroitin attracts and holds fluid within cartilage tissue helping to lubricate joints and increase mobility. Chondroitin neutralizes the destructive enzymes that are known to damage and destroy cartilage. Chondroitin aids the entry of Glucosamine which is the building block of healthy joints.

Vitamin C plays a vital role by supporting immune function, helping white blood cells function normally, and it also promotes cartilage growth and tissue repair. Aging dogs may especially benefit as they become less proficient at producing their own supply of vitamin C.

Ingredients

Glucosamine Sulfate 250 mg
Chondroitin Sulfate 125 mg
MSM (Methylsulfonylmethane) 125 mg
50 mg Vitamin C (Ester-C®) 50 mg

Flavored with Real Chicken Liver

 

Recommended Daily Dosage

 

 Daily Dosage

Pets Weight
1/2 to 1 wafer under 10 lbs
1 wafer 10-24 lbs
2 wafers 25-49 lbs
3 wafers 50-100 lbs
4 wafers over 100 lbs

To jump-start your pet’s immune health and provide maximum support, please contact our Customer Service department for additional dosage recommendations.

 

NuJoint DS® K-9 Wafers

Hip and Joint Support

MSM supplies biologically active sulfur to animals’ joints. Use of MSM has been shown to reduce the rigidity of cells in the soft tissues of the body. By reducing this rigidity, fluids are able to pass more freely from the cell and this helps to reduce cell pressure.

Glucosamine provides the joints with the building blocks needed to for good health. Acting as a catalyst, Glucosamine helps animals synthesize new cartilage caused by wear and tear. Hip and joint issues can happen when normal wear and tear break down cartilage.

Chondroitin attracts and holds fluid within cartilage tissue helping to lubricate joints and increase mobility. Chondroitin neutralizes the destructive enzymes that are known to damage and destroy cartilage. Chondroitin aids the entry of Glucosamine which is the building block of healthy joints.

Vitamin C plays a vital role by supporting immune function, helping white blood cells function normally, and it also promotes cartilage growth and tissue repair. Aging dogs may especially benefit as they become less proficient at producing their own supply of vitamin C.

Ingredients

Glucosamine Sulfate 500 mg
Chondroitin Sulfate 250 mg
MSM (Methylsulfonylmethane) 250 mg
50 mg Vitamin C (Ester-C®) 50 mg

Flavored with Real Chicken Liver

 

Recommended Daily Dosage

Daily Dosage Pets Weight
1/2 to 1 wafer under 10 lbs
1 wafer 10-24 lbs
2 wafers 25-49 lbs
3 wafers 50-100 lbs
4 wafers over 100 lbs

To jump-start your pet’s immune health and provide maximum support, please contact our Customer Service department for additional dosage recommendations.

CALL NOW TO ORDER

800-474-7044

Order Code: 82416

or click here

https://www.nuvetlabs.com/order_new2/nujoint.asp

How to Check for Dog Ear Problems

How to Check for Dog Ear Problems

 

By Teresa K. Traverse and comments by Diane Weinmann

Having a dog ear infection or other dog ear problem can cause a great deal of discomfort, so it’s important for pet parents to notice when there’s an issue. Most pet parents are probably not in the habit of peering into your dog’s ears every day.

 

To help protect the health of your dog’s ears, it’s smart to get into a routine of checking them at least once a week. That way you are able to spot any potential dog ear infections or problems, and you can take proactive measures before these issues develop into more serious dog ear problems.

 

Getting your dog used to having their ears handled as a puppy will make it easier to handle them when checking for or treating dog ear infections in the future.

 

Here’s some advice from veterinarians on how to check your dog’s ears, what to look for and how to keep them healthy.

 

Signs of Dog Ear Problems

 

You should check the ears about once a week, especially if your dog has had skin or ear issues in the past. If you have a hanging ear dog breed, be sure to lift up the flap and check on their ears more often to watch for infection or disease. Dr. Loft says you can shave around the ear opening so it’s not as hidden.

 

Before you get out the dog hair clippers, though, make sure to ask a professional groomer or veterinarian how to shave this area properly to avoid rashes or wounds that can lead to infection and irritation.

 

Some surefire signs that your pup is suffering from a dog ear problem are:

 

  • Pungent odor
  • Discharge
  • Blood
  • Irritated or red skin
  • Inflammation

 

Dr. Goetz cautions that if part of your dog’s ear feels like a pillow or balloon, he might have an aural hematoma. Essentially, the dog has broken blood vessels underneath the skin, which causes the ear flap to start to fill with blood. If you notice that your dog’s ear flap has started to look inflated or swollen, you should take them to your veterinarian right away. They will examine the ear and decide on an appropriate course of treatment.

 

If you notice any of this in your dog’s ears, then it is time to make a trip to your veterinarian.

 

Common Behaviors That Indicate Dog Ear Problems

 

If your dog is excessively scratching or pawing in the ear, tilting his head or excessively flipping his head, it may also be a sign that he is experiencing discomfort, says Dr. Matthew Goetz, DVM, medical director for the Arizona Animal Welfare League and SPCA in Phoenix.

 

If your dog is turning in circles, off balance, ataxic or uncoordinated, tripping over objects, or showing signs of vertigo, it could be a sign of a middle or inner ear infection, which is serious and should be treated immediately, says Dr. Klaus Earl Loft, DVM, a veterinary dermatologist at Angell Animal Medical Center in Boston, Massachusetts.

 

Another sign of a dog ear problem that you may not have expected is if you notice other dogs continually sniffing at your pup’s ear. Dr. Loft suggests that this could also be a sign of ear infections in dogs.

 

How a Vet Might Treat Your Dog

 

If your pup’s ears show any signs of infection, or you’ve noticed any of the behaviors that indicate an infection, you need to take your pet to see the vet before trying any type of treatment at home.

 

“The reason why it’s really important that you go see your veterinarian before you start any medication is that it’s important that the vet be able to look into your dogs’ ear and make sure that the ear drum is still intact. If you have a ruptured ear drum, and you put certain medications in there, it can cause deafness,” says Dr. Goetz.

 

A vet will perform an ear swab first. The ear swab tests for yeast, bacteria, ear mites and white or red blood cells. If you suspect an ear infection, heading to the vet is important.

 

A vet might need to send test results to a lab to determine the best treatment, depending on the infection. Most veterinarians can look at the sample through a microscope and determine the cause of acute and external ear infections. Chronic and middle/inner ear infections often need a culture that is then submitted to a lab for evaluation.

 

Dogs will typically receive antifungal or antibacterial medications, says Dr. Goetz. For a really severe ear infection, Dr. Goetz may prescribe oral antibiotics. If you’re having trouble administering ear medication, Dr. Goetz advises asking your veterinarian about long-lasting ear medications, which can last for 10-14 days.

 

How Often Should You Clean Dog Ears?

 

When it comes to cleaning dog ears, Dr. Loft warns pet parents that too much ear cleaning can actually damage your pet’s ears.

 

“I’m not encouraging people to clean the ear every day and do it as a precautionary, because that sometimes will render the ear more susceptible to maceration [when the skin breaks down after exposure to moisture] or infections,” says Dr. Loft.

 

Although you shouldn’t be cleaning your dog’s ears often or as a preventative method, there may be instances where you will want to clean them. This should be done after you’ve consulted your vet and discussed treatment.

 

If your dog is prone to ear infections, you may want to consider cleaning his ears weekly or monthly. You will also want to take extra precaution if you take your dog swimming or submerge his ears during a bath. Try drying them out afterwards or even cleaning them, since moisture in the ear can cause infection. Most veterinary recommended ear cleaners contain a safe drying agent which allows residual water to evaporate, which lessens the risk of infection after swimming or bathing.

 

How to Clean Dog Ears

 

According to Dr. Loft, “It’s best to stay away from harsh products like alcohol, vinegar or peroxide, which can make a bubbly sound inside the ear and scare your dog.” To clean your dog’s ear, you should always use an ear cleaner that is made specifically for dogs.

 

Never use cotton swabs on or in your pet’s ears for any reason. This can lead to serious injury and a trip to the emergency vet.

 

Here are the steps:

 

  1. Dr. Loft recommends holding the bottle over the ear canal and gently squeezing the solution into the ear. He advises not putting the bottle or tip in the ear directly.
  2. You then massage the base of your dog’s ear to loosen up the debris within the ear
  3. Let your dog shake their head. By shaking their head, your dog is bringing the softened wax and debris to the front of the ear canal, which makes it easier for you to clean away.
  4. Use a large cotton ball to wipe away all the wax and debris. Be gentle when wiping inside your pup’s ears. The skin within the ear is very sensitive and can be injured if you continually wipe at it.

 

Chronic Dog Ear Infections

 

Goetz says having your dog’s ear infections treated early is important for ear health. This is especially crucial for chronic ear infections.

 

Some chronic infections are so bad that surgical removal of the ear canal is the only option left for pain control—total ear canal ablation (TECA) surgery.

 

“If you have chronic ear infections that go untreated, you’re definitely going to be predisposed to having hearing loss earlier in life,” says Goetz.

 

Diane, animal communicator and holistic healer for pets highly recommends a product called Canine Ear spray by Dr. Melissa Shelton that will help reduce ear infections on your dog if used regularly.  Many of my clients have had great success with regular use. Here is the info about the product below:

 

Ingredients:  Fractionated Coconut Oil, Water, Grain Alcohol, Essential Oils of Copaiba (Copaifera officinalis) , Lavender (Lavendula angustifolia), Lemongrass (Cymbopogon flexuosus), Melaleuca alternifolia, Citronella (Cymbopogon nardus), Clove (Syzygium aromaticum), Helichrysum (H. italicum), Rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis Verbenone Chemotype), Lemon (Citrus limon), Frankincense (Boswellia carterii)Canine Ear Spray is intended as a spray to be used with a variety of ear conditions in dogs.  Essential oils contained within this product exhibit anti-parasitic, anti-fungal, anti-bacterial, anti-tumoral, and anti-inflammatory properties.  In our veterinary hospital, the use of this spray has proven incredibly beneficial for dogs with chronic ear conditions, and especially those that are resistant to many traditional drugs and antibiotics.  Many of our patients were near surgical removal of the ear canal (Total Ear Canal Ablation or TECA surgery) prior to starting on the Canine Ear Spray.  In clinical use, we see great comfort with the use of the spray and also vast improvements in infection, swelling, and pigmentation.  A major benefit to a spray such as this – is that is actually supports a healthy immune system, instead of shutting the immune system off – as in the case with steroid use.

There are many factors that may contribute to your dog’s chronic, recurrent, or first time ear condition.  Please read more about other changes you can make in your dog’s lifestyle that will help you to combat chronic ear infections and allergies.

Directions for Use:

Shake well before each use.  Spray 1-3 pumps into the ear(s), once to twice a day.  You are not trying to saturate the ear canal or drip the solution into the ear canal directly.  Coating the outer surface of the ear and upper part of the exposed ear canal, will result in the “traveling” of this solution to deeper parts of the ear.  Monitor the ear tissues for any signs of irritation, and stop use if noted.  Generally this recipe is used for 2 weeks or longer.  Work with your veterinarian to determine frequency and length of use, based on response and recheck ear smear results.

This recipe has been used long term, for several months at a time or more when needed.  However, if irritation occurs, please discontinue use.  Although this new formulation of the Canine Ear Spray rarely creates irritations, if it does occur, placing Fractionated Coconut Oil into the ear and onto any irritated surfaces will help decrease any issues.  Fractionated Coconut Oil is safe for use in the ear – however we do not recommend filling the entire ear canal with it.

If your dog is very resistant to having a “spray” in the ear, you can spray the product onto your fingers and wipe gently into the ear and ear canal.

 

To order

http://www.animaleo.info/canine-ear-spray.html