Archive for June, 2012

Taking Care of Your Dog’s Ears

Ear infections are very common among dogs.  Dogs can also have ear problems if they have allergies or mites.  You can help your dog have healthy ears by taking regular care of them.

 

Ear infections

Ear infections can be bacterial or yeast.  A dog with healthy ears will resist having ear infections but if his ears become compromised in some way, an infection can develop and he will start to show symptoms of the infection.  Things that can lead to an ear infection include trauma to the ear, allergies, parasites, changes in the dog’s hormones or thyroid levels, a foreign body that’s stuck in the ear, and moisture in the ear.

 

If your dog has an ear infection, there are some symptoms that will tip you off:

 

  • Bad odor
  • Changes in behavior such as irritability or depression
  • Discharge from the ears
  • Pain around the ears
  • Redness or swelling of the ear flap and/or canal
  • Scratching or rubbing of the ears and head
  • Shaking of the head or tilting it to one side

 

Dogs with long ears are particularly prone to ear infections, especially dogs with long hair such as the Cocker Spaniel.  If any moisture becomes trapped inside the ear, it can be a perfect breeding ground for bacteria and yeast.

 

Dogs with food allergies often have itching that leads to the dog scratching the ears.  The scratching can lead to trauma of the ears which then leads to ear infection.  Ear mites can also drive some dogs crazy and cause them to scratch their ears which will result in trauma and infection.

 

Ear care

Taking care of your dog’s ears will keep most of these problems from developing.  It is easier to care for your dog’s ears on a weekly basis than to try to clear up a bad ear infection.

 

Start by using a good ear cleaner.  It should be at room temperature so it will not cause your dog any distress.  You will also need some cotton balls or a soft cloth.

 

Your dog should be be sitting in front of you, ideally.  Start by placing several drops of the ear cleaner in one ear.  Do not squirt a lot of the cleaner in your dog’s ear.  It only takes a few drops to clean the ear and if you use too much it will make your dog uncomfortable.

 

Gently massage the base of your dog’s ear where the liquid has gone.  You should hear a slight squishing sound.

 

Use a cotton ball to gently start removing grit and debris that work up from the bottom of the ear.  Stroke the cotton ball around the edges of the ear canal but do not dig inside the ear.  You could hurt your dog if you go inside the ear canal.

 

Repeat this procedure with clean cotton balls until no more dirt or debris come up when you put in drops of cleaner and massage the base of the ear.  Then clean the other ear.  Be sure to give your dog a treat and praise him for cooperating.

 

You should also be sure to dry your dog’s ears thoroughly after baths and after your dog goes swimming.  When you groom your dog or take your dog to a groomer, especially if he has long, furry ears, be sure to trim the hair inside the ears to allow more air to circulate there.

 

Conclusion

Dogs can have lots of ear problems but if you clean your dog’s ears this way each week, you can keep his ears clean and prevent any problems from developing.

 

Article By Nancy Cope: Owner of Pampered-dog-gifts.com where you will find a variety of gifts for your pampered pooch.  Items include gift baskets for dogs, gourmet treats, rhinestone collars, and much more.

Heartworm disease is a serious condition that affects dogs and other animals.  It is spread by mosquitoes and it occurs in all fifty states in the U.S.  Left untreated, it can be deadly.

 

The heartworm life cycle

Heartworms have a life cycle that depends on the mosquito and a host body.  The cycle begins when an adult female heartworm releases her young into the bloodstream of a host body, such as a dog.  Then a mosquito must bite the dog, taking in blood and microfilariae (the immature heartworms).  It takes about two weeks for the microfilariae to mature to a larval stage where they can infect another animal.  When the mosquito bites another animal, such as a dog, the larvae enter the bloodstream and the dog becomes infected.  Over the course of about six months, the larvae will work their way to the dog’s lungs and heart and become adult worms.  They can live for up to seven years and grow to be up to 10-12 inches long.  A dog can have as many as 250 heartworms in his heart and longs.

 

Symptoms of heartworm disease

Symptoms of heartworm disease aren’t usually noticeable until the dog is well past the early stages of infection.  Once a dog is heavily infested with heartworms he can have a mild but regular cough, be reluctant to exercise, tire easily, have a loss of appetite, and lose weight.

 

The heartworm test

Dogs should be tested for heartworms annually.  The test is a simple blood test that detects an antigen that indicates heartworms are present or the microfilariae in the bloodstream.

 

Prevention

Luckily, there are a number of good heartworm preventives available today.  Heartgard Plus, Tri-Heat Plus, and Iverhart Max all contain ivermectin and will kill microfilariae in a dog’s bloodstream, thus preventing heartworms from developing.  However, ivermectin products should not be used by collie-type dogs such as Collies, Shelties, and Border Collies.  Some people suggest that ivermectin should not be used on any herding dogs.  Some of these breeds have a mutation in the MDR1 gene which causes ivermectin to be toxic to them.

 

You can also use Interceptor or Sentinel to prevent heartworm.  These medications contain milbemycin oxime.  Revolution contains selamectin.  Advantage contains moxidectin.  All of these preventives will keep heartworms from developing in your dog after a mosquito has bitten him.  There are no preventives which can guarantee that your dog will not be bitten or receive heartworm larvae into his bloodstream.  Preventives work by killing off the larvae that is in your dog’s bloodstream each month before it can go to your dog’s heart and lungs.

 

Products for heartworm prevention must be obtained by prescription.

 

Treatment

If your dog does develop heartworms there are treatments but they can be difficult for your dog and they are costly.  It is much easier to prevent heartworms than it is to treat them later.

 

Conclusion

Heartworm disease is a serious and often deadly condition in dogs.  Talk to your veterinarian about which method of heartworm prevention is best for your dog so you can protect him.

 

Article by Nancy Cope, owner of the popular online dog boutique, Pampered-dog-gifts.com where you will find a wide range of products to pamper your pooch.  Select from gourmet treats, gift baskets, designer apparel, toys and more.

No matter how much you love your dog or how careful you are, it’s likely that your dog might need emergency care at some time.  Accidents can happen in life.  Your dog could be stung by a bee or eat something he shouldn’t eat, for example.  If something unforeseen should happen, it’s important that you are prepared and know what to do.

 

Prepare in advance

You can prepare in advance for an emergency by talking to your veterinarian.  Find out if he or she keeps emergency hours.  Many vets today do not but your vet can recommend a local emergency vet clinic near you.  You should know your vet’s days and hours of operation as well as those of the emergency clinic.  Know where the emergency clinic is located and how to get there quickly.  Keep these phone numbers handy.  You could put them up on your refrigerator, for example, or put them in your cellphone.  Having this information readily available can save you valuable time if your dog has an emergency.

 

First aid kit

It’s a good idea to keep a basic canine first aid kit at home.  You can buy a first aid kit that is already stocked or you can assemble one with some basic items.  You will need the following supplies:

 

  • Adhesive Tape
  • Antibiotic Ointment
  • Cold Pack
  • Cotton Balls
  • First Aid Spray
  • Gauze Pads
  • Hydrocortisone 1%
  • Hydrogen Peroxide
  • Iodine Swabs
  • Ipecac Syrup
  • Magnifying Glass
  • Muzzle
  • Scissors
  • Stretch Gauze
  • Styptic Powder
  • Syringe
  • Thermometer
  • Tweezers

 

This may look like a long list but you can easily find all of these things in your local drugsstore.  It shouldn’t cost too much to put together.  You can keep everything in a small bag or a tackle box.  It’s a good idea to keep things as organized as possible so you can easily locate items when you need them.  With a first aid kit like this you can treat minor wounds or make your dog regurgitate something bad he’s eaten, among other things.

 

When your dog needs emergency care

While you can treat a minor cut or wound at home, if your dog suffers a more serious injury or accident, you need to seek professional treatment.  Signs that your dog needs to see a vet include the following:

 

  • Appears to be paralyzed
  • Change in body temperature
  • Excessive bleeding
  • Loss of consciousness
  • Pale gums
  • Rapid breathing
  • Seizures
  • Trouble standing
  • Weak or rapid pulse

 

If your dog is displaying some of these symptoms, do not panic.  It is important that you stay calm.  Do get your dog to your vet or emergency clinic as quickly as possible for assessment.

 

Other emergencies

Other common emergencies include stings by bees and dogs ingesting poisons.  Bee stings are often self-evident.  Some dogs have only a slight reaction to a bee sting while others have a strong allergic reaction.  If they have been stung on the face or mouth, as often happens, their head may start to swell which can affect their ability to breathe.  If this is the case with your dog, or if he is stung multiple times and has a strong reaction, you should take him to your vet right away for treatment.  Don’t waste any time.  His breathing could become impaired.  If your dog has an allergic reaction like this you could ask your vet for a prescription for an epi-pen containing epinephrine for your dog so you will have it handy in case he is stung by a bee again.

 

Dogs can also poison themselves sometimes.  They are curious and they can eat or drink things that are harmful to them.  You should keep all cleaning products, anti-freeze, and other things that could be harmful to your dog well out of your dog’s reach.  Try not to plant flowers in your yard that could be harmful to your dog if he eats them.  Keep prescription medication and over-the-counter drugs away from your dog. These are all things that dogs often consume which can poison them.

 

If your dog does eat something that poisons him, or if he appears to be poisoned, call your vet immediately for instructions on what to do.  Do not try to make your dog vomit unless you talk to your vet and he or she tells you to proceed.  If your dog has ingested something corrosive then vomiting will make the condition worse.  Be prepared to take your dog to your vet right away for treatment.

 

Conclusion

The best way to help your dog in an emergency is to be prepared.  Start planning what to do before anything ever happens and things are much more likely to turn out well for you and your dog.

 

Article by Nancy Cope:  Owner of Pampered-Dog-Gifts.com and online pet boutique where you can find products such as gift baskets for your pooch, apparel, unique toys, gourmet treats and much more.