Reprinted with permission of Dr. Wendy Brooks and the Veterinary Information Network
Abridged by Simon Yen VMD
As demonstrated by the picture below, the dog’s ear canal has a vertical and a horizontal component. This structure predisposes dogs to ear infections as debris must work its way upward rather than straight out.
Ear disease usually stems from over-production of wax, which occurs in response to irritation. Allergic skin disease affecting the ears is one possible cause, especially in recurring cases; other causes of ear infections include ear mites; foreign bodies such as grass awns or foxtails; or hair growth deep in the canal, which is especially common in poodles and schnauzers. The moisture of the wax promotes bacterial growth and infection. Soon wax in the ears is joined by pus.
It isn’t long before the pet is seen scratching at his ears, shaking his head or holding one ear slightly dropped. Discharge and odor may be noticeable to people.
Treating Ear Infections
Step 1: Most ear infections are cleared up simply with professional cleaning followed by medication at home. If there is only mild debris in the ear canals, simple disinfection and washing of the ear is adequate; however, in many cases, a full ear flush is needed to even examine the eardrum. For patient comfort, we recommend sedation for this procedure as the ears are sore and the instruments can be damaging if the pet jumps at the wrong time. A sample of ear discharge is commonly examined under the microscope to assist in selecting medications for home use. After a couple of weeks of home treatment, the ear canals are rechecked to be sure the infection is gone. In most cases this completes treatment but for stubborn cases, we must proceed to the next step.
Step 2: Some dogs have chronic ear problems in which the infection is not controlled by general medication or returns when general medication is discontinued. In these cases, the ear discharge should be cultured so that the precise organism can be pinpointed and treated specifically. Regular treatment at home with disinfecting ear washes should become part of the pet’s grooming routine.
Further testing may be in order to determine why the infection continues to recur. Allergy is the most common reason for recurrent ear problems but hormone imbalances can also be underlying causes.
Step 3: Some ear infections simply cannot be controlled with the above steps. These cases have transcended medical management and must proceed to surgical management.
Ear infections can be especially frustrating as they have the ability to draw out for months, even years, even with the best of treatment. It is important to have a logical approach, to know what sort of infection is in the ear, to do proper home care regularly, and to have regular recheck appointments. If a patient has a history of particularly stubborn ear infections or numerous recurrences, treatment focus shifts to prevention, such as weekly ear disinfection, once the acute infection is eliminated.
If you have any additional questions, please do not hesitate to call us at Campus Veterinary Clinic at 510-549-1252.
By Simon Yen VMD with information provided by the Veterinary Information Network
Ticks are skin parasites that feed on the blood of their hosts. Ticks like motion, warm temperatures from body heat, and the carbon dioxide exhaled by mammals. Ticks can transmit diseases like Lyme and Erhlichia and can cause tick paralysis.
Most types of ticks require three hosts during a two-year lifespan. Hard ticks have four life stages: egg, larva, nymph, and adult. We usually see adults in the fall that attach to dogs and cats. We typically see the small nymph stage attach to dogs and cats in the spring.
What are the best ways to deal with these blood-sucking parasites?
Environmental Control: Treating the yard is an important tool in the arsenal against ticks. There are products containing fenvalerate, that can be used to spray the outdoor area.
Prevent Ticks from Attaching: It takes up to 24 hours for an attached tick to transmit disease, so owners can usually prevent disease transmission to their pets by following a regular schedule to look for and remove ticks.
Using a residual insecticide like Frontline plus (fipronil), applied to the skin between the shoulders of a dog or cat can kill ticks. Revolution (selemectin) is labeled to kill only one tick in dogs. Preventic collars are very effective in repelling and killing ticks in dogs, but is toxic if ingested and toxic to cats. Topical permethrin products can repel and kill ticks in dogs but are fatal to cats.
DEET, found in many over-the-counter insecticides, is toxic to both dogs and cats
Find and Remove the Ticks: The best way to find ticks on your pet is to check them every time your pet comes back from an area you know is inhabited by ticks and run your hands over the whole body.
The safest way to remove a tick is to use rubbing alcohol and a pair of tweezers. Dab rubbing alcohol on the tick and then take hold of the tick as close to the dog’s skin as you can; and pull slowly and steadily. Do not apply hot matches, petroleum jelly, turpentine, or nail polish because these methods do not remove the ticks and they are not safe for your pet.
After you pull a tick off, there will be a local area of inflammation. If it is red and inflamed for longer than a week, it might have become infected and a visit to your veterinarian is warranted. Ticks can transmit diseases, but by preventing them from embedding or removing them quickly, your pets should cruise right through the tick season with no problems.