Time to Clean Your Pet’s Ears?

Veterinarians see a lot of patients with ear infections. In fact, it’s the second most common reason for a client visit, according to pet health insurer, VPI Pet Insurance. With ear problems prompting so many trips to the vet, should ear cleaning be a necessary part of grooming your pet?

 

Generally, cleaning a dog’s ears on a routine basis is not necessary, according to Leonard Jonas, DVM, MS, DACVIM, a veterinarian with Wheat Ridge Animal Hospital in Wheat Ridge, Colo. That’s because animals have a naturally occurring self-cleansing process.

“I’ve had pets my whole life,” Jonas said. “I don’t remember ever routinely cleaning out their ears.”

However, that doesn’t mean pet owners should never take notice of their dog’s ears. Certain breeds, lifestyles and physical characteristics will make a dog more prone to what Jonas calls “abnormal situations,” in which the pet’s normal homeostasis is disrupted. This is when something, either systemically or locally in the ear, interferes with the normal surface barrier defense system and the normal cleaning process that keeps bacteria and yeast under control.

There are signs to watch for if your pet is having an issue with its ears. These, according to Jonas, include:

  • Shaking its head
  • Flapping its ears
  • Rubbing at its ears, either with a paw or by rubbing against furniture or carpet
  • Self-massaging the ear to ease itch, pain or irritation
  • Debris and/or redness inside the ear
  • Sores inside the ear
  • Odor in the ear due to abnormal oils and bacteria

“If you [the pet owner] look in the ear, you can see sometimes a lot of debris,” said Jonas, explaining what an ear with an infection or problem may look like. “Then [you] see redness on the ear flaps (inside) or sores developing. And then there’s also odor that occurs when you have an abnormal ear.”

Breeds to watch
There are certain breeds of dogs—such as Shar Peis, bulldogs and poodles—that have narrow ear canals and have a higher chance of incurring ear issues. Poodles, especially, have more hair in the canals, Jonas explained. “The hair itself is not a problem, but if they’ve got something abnormal with their whole defense system, all that extra hair in there makes it difficult.”

Cocker spaniels are notorious for ear problems, Jonas added.

When to clean your pet’s ears
According to Jonas, it’s best to consult your veterinarian before going forward with an ear-cleaning regimen. Unlike cleaning the teeth, cleaning the ears does not need be done regularly. If a pet owner suspects that something may be wrong with the ear, it’s advised to visit the veterinarian and establish whether the dog’s ear needs to be cleaned by the owner either routinely or for an instructed period of time.

Cleaning the dog’s ears without first seeing a veterinarian is not a good idea, Jonas said, “because you don’t know what’s going on inside. You don’t know if there has been a ruptured ear drum; you don’t know if there’s a stick or a stone or something stuck down inside the ear that needs to be fished out by a veterinarian.”

A veterinarian can diagnose the problem and make the proper recommendations, which may be cleaning and/or medication.

Typically, there are two situations for which a dog’s ears would need to be cleaned regularly. The first is when a veterinarian instructs for it to be done, and the second is when the dog is frequently in water. “Water in their ears disrupts the normal defense barrier system in that ear, and can make them prone to getting infections and irritation and inflammation,” Jonas said.

If there needs to be ear cleaning
A veterinarian should show the owner how to properly clean the dog’s ears because “there are a lot of different techniques, and it depends on what the problem is,” Jonas advised.

There are a couple of precautions to always remember, according to Jonas. First, never use a Q-tip, because it tends to push the wax and debris further into the ear. Second, be sure a groomer does not pluck the hair out of the dog’s ears, unless that hair is contributing to an ear problem; Jonas believes that doing so may cause irritation.

One thing pet owners should also consider is that if the dog has an ear infection, it could be very painful for them. Forcing the dog to get its ears cleaned or putting medication in them can be a dangerous situation for the owner and the dog.

“If your pet doesn’t want you to do it, don’t, because it hurts,” Jonas said. “You’re just going to create a problem, and you need to look to alternatives.”

 

Originally published by Healthy Pet.

Don’t Ignore Breathing Difficulties in Short-nosed Dogs

Unfortunately, the only thing normal about noisy breathing for dogs with “pushed-in” faces is that it is an expected response to a shortened upper jaw, which creates excess soft tissue in the back of the throat.

Some dogs are affected to the point where they experience brachycephalic (the scientific term for breeds with pushed in faces) obstructive airway syndrome or BOAS. If left untreated, problems can get worse to the point where an animal can collapse due to a lack of oxygen.

Owners of affected dogs may be putting them at risk if they do not recognize the problem and seek treatment, according to researchers Rowena Packer, Dr. Anke Hendricks and Dr. Charlotte Burn of the United Kingdom’s Royal Veterinary College.

In their 2012 study, the researchers discovered that owners of such dogs as pugs, English bulldogs, Pekingese, French bulldogs, Boston terriers, Cavalier King Charles spaniels, Shih tzus and others were not aware of the signs of BOAS. In fact, 58% of surveyed owners said their dogs did not have breathing problems even when more than two-thirds of the dogs showed difficulties during exercise.

What to watch for
According to Packer, while it is not yet known which are the best predictors of BOAS, signs to look for include:

  • Increased and abnormal breathing noise that sounds like snoring, both when the dog is awake and asleep
  • A shortness of breath while exercising or playing
  • Effortful, labored breathing with obvious abdominal movements
  • Interrupting exercise, play or eating to catch their breath
  • Inability to exercise for reasonable periods of time without becoming out of breath
  • Difficulty cooling down after a walk; panting for long periods
  • Physical collapse while exercising
  • Difficulty sleeping and/or periods where the dog stops breathing during sleep
  • Restlessness and difficulty getting comfortable at rest, stretched out head and neck position, forelegs spread and body flat against the floor
  • Gastrointestinal (GI) problems, such as difficulty swallowing, and bringing up food, stomach content or a lot of saliva.

“If you notice these signs, take your dog to your veterinarian for an assessment to learn whether they are compatible with the disease or due to a different problem,” says Hendricks.

“If left to develop,” says Burn, “BOAS can lead to secondary problems due to the effort required to breathe—putting pressure on the voice box, digestive system and heart. In addition, the more severe the breathing problems, the greater the severity of GI signs. They may reflect inflammation of the esophagus, stomach ulcers and, in some cases, hiatal hernias, when part of the stomach can become displaced into the chest cavity during breathing.”

Option for severe BOAS
If your veterinarian believes the dog may have BOAS that requires treatment, he or she may refer you to a veterinary surgical specialist. There, the dog’s airway is likely to be examined under general anesthesia to assess whether it shows the abnormalities associated with BOAS—an elongated soft palate, collapsing voice box and narrowed nostrils.

If present, these abnormalities would be surgically corrected, says Packer. That could mean, for example, that excess tissue in the nose and throat would be removed.

Surgery may improve clinical signs, she says, but the dog may never be “normal,” because of the head structure and is likely to remain susceptible to heat stress.

For severely affected dogs, where significant secondary problems have occurred—for example, severe laryngeal collapse—then treatment choices may be limited. In some cases, either permanent tracheostomy or euthanasia may be recommended.

“That is why it is vital,” says Hendricks, “that owners recognize the clinical signs of BOAS and perceive them to be a ‘problem’ as early as possible, so that these secondary changes can be avoided by early intervention.”

Options for mildly affected dogs
For all dogs, including those that have had surgery or have been determined by a veterinarian to only be mildly affected, owners can help with some lifestyle changes, says Burn. Owners should do the following:

  • Closely monitor the dog to keep it at a healthy weight. Being overweight or obese can exacerbate the condition.
  • Use body harnesses rather than collars on walks so the airway is not compressed by a neck collar if the dog pulls at the leash.
  • Avoid walking on hot or humid days. On particularly warm days, keep dogs calm and indoors in a cool, aerated room with access to water.
  • Avoid having dogs in particularly stressful or exciting situations.

 

Originally published by Healthy Pet.

Celebrate Pet Safety this Memorial Day

As the unofficial start to summer, Memorial Day is a great excuse to get outdoors. But whether you’re partying, barbequing, or just soaking up some rays, it’s important to keep your pet’s safety in mind at all times. To prevent any Memorial Day mishaps, we’ve put together five tips to help protect animals during the “Dog Days” of the season.

Party Smart

Barbequing is one of the best parts of Memorial Day, but remember that the food and drink you serve your guests may be poisonous to pets. Keep alcoholic beverages away from animals, and remind guests not to give them any table scraps or snacks. Raisins, grapes, onions, chocolate, and avocado are all common at barbeques—and they’re all especially toxic to animals.

Be Cool Near the Pool

Don’t leave pets unsupervised around a pool or lake—not all dogs are expert swimmers! Introduce your pets to water gradually and make sure they wear flotation devices when on boats. Also, try to keep your dog from drinking pool water, which contains potentially dangerous chemicals like chlorine.

Skip the Spray

Unless specifically designed for animals, insect repellant and sunscreen can be toxic to pets. Signs of repellent toxicity include drooling, vomiting, diarrhea, excessive thirst, and lethargy. DEET, a common insecticide in products for humans, may cause neurological issues in dogs.

Made in the Shade

Pets can get dehydrated quickly, so if you’re spending time outside, give them plenty of fresh, clean water and make sure they have a shady place to get out of the sun. Note that animals with flat faces, like Pugs and Persian cats, are more susceptible to heat stroke since they cannot pant as effectively. These pets, along with the elderly, the overweight, and those with heart or lung diseases, should be kept cool in air-conditioned rooms as much as possible.

IDs, Please

Time spent outdoors comes with the added risk of pets escaping. Make sure that your pet is fitted with a microchip or ID tag with identifying information, or both. It’s always better to be safe than sorry.

 

Source: http://www.aspca.org/blog/celebrate-pet-safety-memorial-day

Thanksgiving Safety Tips for Pet Owners

Most pets do not tolerate spicy seasonings very well or large quantities of food. Avoid giving pets a sampling of everything on the human menu.

 

On the morning of the holiday, exercise the dog to try to wear it out before guests arrive.

 

Make sure to dispose of turkey bones where the pet cannot get to it. These bones will splinter when chewed. Bones can get caught in a pet’s esophagus or intestinal track and could be life threatening.

 

Rancid food is full of bacteria and can make a pet very sick, so make sure garbage is not accessible to the pet.

 

Turkeystuffing may contain onions, garlic, or raisins—all toxic to dogs, so resist the urge to feed your dog human food.

 

Remind guests not to offer table scraps or appetizers to the dog.

 

If the family pet is skittish around people, noises, sudden movement then containing the dog away from the stimulation is recommended.

 

Offer special chew toys during the time people are buzzing around.

 

An open door or open garage may be an invitation for your pet to bolt. Keep your pet contained while guests are coming or going.

 

Make sure your pet has ID and license on a collar just in case it bolts out an open door.

 

Source: http://veterinaryteam.dvm360.com/10-thanksgiving-safety-tips-clients-and-pets

Two National Pet Stores Pulling China-Made Treats

Two major national pet stores are pulling all dog and cat treats made in China off of their shelves as years of complaints to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration pile up that jerky treats from China were possibly making pets sick.

Vice President of Merchandising for Petco John Sturm said they are voluntarily removing these products after consumers voiced concerns.

Another major pet food retailer, PetSmart, is pulling Chinese-made jerky treats from its stores in the U.S.and Canada.

The treats have been linked to more than 1,000 dog deaths and nearly 5,000 other pet illnesses.

The FDA said it’s still working to determine the exact causes of the illnesses.

While the products won’t actually disappear from PetSmart shelves until March of 2015, Petco plans to pull the products by the end of this year.

http://www.cnn.com/video/data/2.0/video/bestoftv/2014/05/22/newday-petco-pulls-china-made-dog-treats.cnn.html

Source: http://newday.blogs.cnn.com/2014/05/22/two-national-pet-stores-pulling-china-made-treats/

 

February is National Pet Dental Health Month

Brushing your pet’s teeth can be a battle at times, especially if they were not trained to get their teeth brushed from a very young age. Our team can suggest some tips and tricks for getting them acclimated to brushing. Check out this great video from the American Veterinary Medical Association with some tips on at-home dental care for pets.