Listen Up! Take Care of Your Pup’s Ears

If your dog frequently shakes his head, rubs his ears along the floor or furniture, or has foul
smelling discharge from his ears, he may be suffering from an ear infection, also known as otitis externa. All breeds of dogs can develop infections, but for some, it is a chronic condition.

Get Help

It is important to seek treatment for ear infections as soon as possible to help prevent
the infection from migrating from the external ear canal to the middle or internal ear canal. Longstanding, severe infections can invade the inner ear and result in vestibular disease, which manifests as improper balance, disorientation and head tilt. Also, ear infections are very painful. Often dogs will scratch their ears so severely to try to numb this pain that
they will cause bleeding. This will then set up additional skin infections if not treated.

Exam Time

Your veterinarian will perform a thorough ear examination as well as collect samples of debris from your dog’s ears for microscopic identification. Sometimes there are ear mites that require specific treatment. A culture and antibiotic sensitivity test may also be performed to specifically identify the species of bacteria and yeast that may be present.
Antibiotics, ear cleansers, eardrops and pain control medications may be prescribed. A professional ear flushing may also need to be performed. If your veterinarian practices complimentary medicine, acupuncture and herbal formulas may also be prescribed to
relieve the infection and discomfort.

Causes

The most important thing to accomplish is to find the primary underlying problem. Curing this underlying problem will help
prevent future infections.

Swimming

Dogs who swim often (especially those with long ears that trap water) can develop infections if contaminated water is lodged inside the ears. The combination of heat and moisture can allow normal ear bacteria and yeast to overgrow, resulting in infection. If your
dog does go swimming, it is important to gently cleanse and dry the ears afterward.
It is also beneficial to keep the fur short inside of your dog’s ears. Have your veterinarian or groomer gently shave the inside of the ears. Do not pluck the fur as it can cause inflammation and pain.

Hypothyroidism

This is a disease resulting in decreased thyroid hormone production. Thyroid hormone is important for many functions including regulating metabolism and immune system
health. If the thyroid hormone level is too low, several skin diseases can develop,
including ear infections. Dogs with chronic ear infections should be tested for hypothyroidism. The test consists of a thyroid hormone analysis as well as thyroid stimulating hormone level determination. Specific treatment for hypothyroidism is then initiated.

Allergies:

Allergies to either environmental allergens such as plants, dusts, and moulds, or allergies to certain foods, may cause ear infections. Your dog can be tested for allergies. If positive, special foods can be prescribed, as well as allergy serum injections if they are allergic to
environmental allergens. Adult dogs should be examined by a veterinarian at least once a year and seniors should visit the vet twice. It is also important for pet owners to regularly
examine their pets from head to toe, including looking inside the ears. If disease or discomfort is suspected, prompt evaluation by a veterinarian is important to prevent development of severe infections.

Diagnosis: Kennel Cough – Symptoms and Treatment

If your dog spends a good deal of time around other dogs, he may be at risk of contracting kennel cough. A common infection also referred to as tracheobronchitis or bordetella, kennel cough is a highly contagious form of bronchitis that affects a dog’s trachea. It is rarely serious, however, and often sorts itself out in one to two weeks.

Causes

Kennel cough is caused by airborne bacteria and viruses and is contracted when a dog is exposed to multiple versions of these pathogens. Therefore, dogs that spend time around other dogs, such as in dog shows and kennels (hence the name!) are most at risk.

Symptoms

Basically, your pooch will appear to have a nasty cold. Symptoms usually begin to appear three to five days after exposure. A harsh, hacking cough is the usual telltale sign, along with sneezing and retching, and some dogs will produce a foamy white discharge, your should take your dog to the vet if you see these symtoms. The average length of infection is seven to 10 days. Some dogs may become lethargic when infected, but others can carry on being their active and happy selves, eating, sleeping and playing normally.

Treatment

According to Ian Buffett, DVM, who runs a mobile service in the Toronto area, the best treatment for kennel cough is to isolate your dog from other dogs and let the infection run its course. If the infection lingers, however, antibiotics are recommended. In some cases, cough suppressants are also prescribed.

Prevention

If your dog will be spending time around other dogs, try to ensure the space is well ventilated due to the airborne nature of the infection. As well, be sure to keep your dog’s toys and food bowls separate from other dogs. Immunization is available but, because of the multiple pathogens involved, it is impossible to keep a dog fully immunized from kennel cough. “A vaccine will reduce the severity of the illness, if a dog is exposed. It won’t get as sick for the duration of protection,” says Dr. Buffett.

For dogs that are at risk of exposure to kennel cough, vaccination once a year is recommended. In fact, many kennels require proof of vaccination. It is a good idea to vaccinate your dog a few weeks before the potential exposure in order to allow immunity to build up. Dr. Buffett also reminds pet owners that a dog with a strong immune system has a better chance at fighting infection. Optimum nutrition and exercise go a long way in keeping your pet happy and healthy.

The Pearly White

Puppies have two sets of teeth: deciduous (baby) teeth and adult teeth. The baby teeth fall out by the time your puppy is six months of age. Caring for your puppy’s teeth from the beginning can help make the adult teeth last a lifetime.

Helping your puppy get comfortable

It is recommended that you brush your puppy’s teeth, but most dogs won’t just open up and say “ahh” as you come towards them with a toothbrush. Just like bathing and grooming, use a gradual approach.
Start by handling your puppy’s mouth. Lift her lips and stroke her gums with your fingers. This is easier when you approach her from behind, with your puppy in your lap or on the floor between your knees. If she nibbles on your fingers, try making a high-pitched squeal to startle her and stop the behaviour. This will help her to learn not to bite.

Toothbrush and toothpaste

After a few days of practice, you can introduce a toothbrush and a toothpaste made for dogs (toothpaste comes in chicken or beef flavours).
If you have a large puppy, you can use a child’s toothbrush.

There are also toothbrushes made just for dogs that come in different sizes.
Do not use toothpaste made for humans on your puppy’s teeth; it can be harmful if your puppy swallows too much. Dogs tend to dislike mint flavour, anyway.

With a pea-sized amount of toothpaste on the toothbrush, slip the toothbrush under your puppy’s lip on one side. Stroke the outer surfaces of the upper and lower teeth on that side. You don’t need to brush the inner (tongue) side of the teeth. And don’t forget the front teeth!
Brushing your puppy’s teeth every day can make a big difference. But brushing twice per week is better than not brushing your puppy’s teeth at all. If you can’t bring yourself to brush your puppy’s teeth, there are special kibble foods you can give her that help fight plaque. There are also a variety of oral rinses that can help with dental health. Marti Hopson, DVM

How to Choosing a Veterinarian for Your Dogs

Your puppy’s veterinarian plays an important role in health and well-being.

Choosing a veterinarian


Here are some things to think about:

Can friends who are dog owners recommend a veterinarian?
Is the clinic located close to your home? Do the clinic’s hours work for your schedule?
How does the clinic handle emergencies after hours? There are after-hours hospitals in many large Canadian communities. In small communities, check whether the clinic partners with other clinics or hospitals for after-hours care.
Is the clinic or hospital clean and tidy? Does it smell fresh? Is it quiet and comfortable? Can you take a tour?
How long has the veterinarian practised?
Does the veterinarian keep her (or his) knowledge current (when it comes to new treatments, for example)? Does she have specialty degrees or special interests? Are there any conditions she won’t handle?
Is the clinic or hospital able to provide quick test results (either from an inhouse or outside laboratory)? Does it have adequate technological equipment? What does the veterinarian do when special services or exceptional care are needed?
Veterinarians are trained to examine and treat a variety of animals, but everyone has preferences. Does the veterinarian enjoy working with dogs, and does she work primarily with dogs?
Do you feel comfortable with the vet? Is she open to questions? Does she mind explaining things about your dog’s health so that you understand? Are staff friendly and helpful?

Trust your instincts. After you choose a veterinarian, try to develop a positive relationship. It’s good for your puppy’s health!

Your puppy should be examined by a
veterinarian as soon as you bring him home – ideally within 24 hours.
The vet will check for congenital defects, for major health problems that could be expensive to treat, or whether your puppy is generally unhealthy. If there are major problems, you may be able to go back to the seller.
You also need to make sure your puppy has no health problems that can affect the health of your family and any other pets.

The first time you visit the veterinarian, she will do a thorough examination. She will also want to know about your puppy’s health care todate. The vet will weigh your puppy, check tha this pulse and breathing rates are normal, andlisten to the heart and lungs. She will examine his eyes, ears, mouth and teeth, glands, genitals and anal region, and check for hernias.
The veterinarian will vaccinate your puppy and give deworming medicine or parasite control, if necessary.
After the first visit, you will need to return
for booster vaccinations every few weeks until four months of age. When your puppy has grown into an adult, he should be examined by the vet about once every year, unless health problems come up that need to be treated.