Monday, April 25, 2016

Canine Ear Health

Ear problems are probably one of the top reasons dog owners visit the vet. A dog's ears should be regularly monitored in order to keep them healthy and infections at bay. Once an infection starts, it can become time-consuming for the owner and agony for the dog. Often, a two-prong attack is what is needed to find out what is causing a dog's ears to become infected and to provide relief. The owner needs to 1. consult a veterinarian for medication that will provide immediate relief and 2. Examine what environmental factors are causing the dog's ears to become irritated. It is important to stay on top of your dog's ear health. Prolonged ear infection can cause permanent damage to you furry family member's hearing.

A veterinarian's medication will provide immediate relief for your dog's ears, but if the environmental factors that are causing the problem are not fixed, ear infections will become chronic. Often, an ear infection is caused by a dietary allergy. Bacteria and yeast are naturally present in your dog's gut, but can get out of whack from excess amounts of grain and sugar. Another factor that can cause excessive bacteria and yeast is moisture. If your dog is a swimmer, it is important to dry out your dog's ears after swimming. Also, check your dog's ears for grass seeds after hiking. These little babies can get lodged into the ear causing your dog A LOT of pain. Sometimes, surgical removal is required. Often your veterinarian might suggest using an oil to soften the lodged seed. But this should only be done if recommended by your vet.

If your dog is showing signs of an ear infection, it is important to take your dog to the vet for a diagnosis of what is causing the infection. If an antibiotic is prescribed, it might be beneficial to supplement your dog's diet with a probiotic to keep your dog's gut in balance. Healthy ears will not require frequent cleaning. In fact, over cleaning your dog's ears can cause infections as well! If you need to clean your dog's ears, please make sure you only clean the visible part of the ear. Like humans, it is not a good idea to stick a q-tip or anything else inside the ear. This could cause damage or blockage.

There are many good ear cleaners on the market, but you can also make your own ear cleaner at home. I have pinned a few examples here. Frequent monitoring of your dog's ears will keep those ears floppy as well as perking up in all directions!

Monday, April 18, 2016

What To Do When Your Dog Vomits

Let's face it, if you own a dog or cat, you are used to vomit. Usually when an animal throws up, it is benign-- your animal is trying to expel something unwanted from their stomach. But when the throwing up suddenly becomes unrelenting, it could be a sign of a serious condition that ranges anywhere from head trauma, toxin exposure, obstruction, cancer or a myriad of other conditions that a veterinarian will need to diagnose. So how are you to tell when it's time to go to the vet? Let's look below:

First you need to decide if your dog is vomiting or regurgitating food:

Pay close attention to these signs in order to easily tell your veterinarian for a quicker diagnosis. Whether it is vomiting or regurgitation, if it is happening frequently, you should probably seek a vet.
If it is not frequent, then you can administer these steps:

  1. Do not give your dog food and take away the water bowl for 12-hrs after "the incident".
  2. Give your dog ice cubes to lick or 3 Tablespoons of water every 1/2 hr.
  3. After 12 hours, reintroduce the water bowl with clean water (you may want to go as far as washing the water bowl).
  4. After 12- 24 hours of initial vomit, give your dog a mixture of rice and chicken. The ratio of rice per chicken should be 1 part chicken: 5 parts rice. Do not over do the feeding though, only give your furry friend 2-3 teaspoons as a test run. If no vomiting occurs, give 2-3 teaspoons every hour or two. 
  5. If no vomiting happens after a day of the chicken/rice diet, you can return to a normal diet.
If for some reason your dog continues to vomit, it's time to see the vet. If you notice any of these signs with vomiting, please see your veterinarian RIGHT AWAY:

A sick, vomiting dog also runs the risk of dehydration or shock. It is a good idea to frequently check for these symptoms while Fido is under the weather:

Again if you notice any of these signs, seek veterinarian advice. Your dog may need to have IV fluids administered. Once your dog is on the mend, it is good to take preventative measures to avoid more mishaps:
  • Diet changes should be gradual. 
  • Monitor chew toys for broken bits and pieces that your dog may want to eat. These can cause obstructions.
  • Dog bones and raw hide bones are a prime culprit of obstructions and vomiting. 
  • Try to keep your dog from scavenging. This can cause a serious case of "garbage gut".
Remember, a dog throwing up every now an then is perfectly normal and there is no need to panic. A dog throwing up constantly, should go to the vet. Always be watchful of what your dog is doing (and eating!) to keep your pup's stomach as even as possible.

Helpful links: