Thursday, September 23, 2010

Wet Behind the Ears

Summer can be loads of fun for water-drawn dog, and a day at the beach can seem like the canine equivalent of Disneyland. Ironically, breeds that love to swim often have floppy ears that are prone to infection, especially when moisture gets in. To guarantee maximum summer fun, here are a few tips for diagnosing, preventing, and treating ear infections.

Diagnosis:

Inspecting your dog’s ears weekly can help with early diagnosis. Look for signs of infection including muck, discharge, and smell. A pussy discharge may indicate an infection, while a dark discharge is a sign of mites. Other indicators of an infection include excessive earwax, redness, scratching, rubbing ears on things, and shaking of the head.

Prevention:

Unfortunately, some breeds are predestined for ear troubles due to the floppy nature of their ears. So dogs such as Spaniels, Hounds, and Labradors tend to have more issues with their ears than breeds whose ears stick straight up, such as Dobermans and Shepherds. To prevent infection, try these tactics:

1. Hair Removal. If your dog has excessive hair in the ear, it may need to be removed (from the root, by plucking) to prevent chronic ear problems. Talk to your vet concerning hair removal in the ear.

2. Drying. Keeping your dog’s ears dry is essential to preventing ear infections. Be sure to swab moisture out of the ear after baths, swimming, and activity in the rain. Even humidity can bring on an ear infection in some breeds.

3. Cleanse and Inspect. Clean your dog’s ears regularly if they are prone to infections. You can buy an assortment of ear cleaners and powders specially formulated for dogs at your local pet store, but talk to your vet before establishing a cleansing routine.

4. Understanding Aggravators. Determine the cause of the infection to prevent further problems. Chronic infections can lead to, are avoidable by diagnosing the cause of the infection early. Talk with your vet to help determine the cause, and avoid repeating treatments that are not effective.

Treatment:

Certain over the counter ear cleansers and antiseptics can be used for some ear infections and mites, but only your vet can properly diagnose an ear infection and recommend proper treatment. Vet treatment usually includes an ointment of antibiotics and anti-inflammatories, which is squirted inside the ear canal, rubbed in, and swabbed out. Oral antibiotics are also available depending on the circumstance.

A big thank you goes out to Amber Blount for providing some wonderful information. Amber is a dog blog writer for Ruff Wear, Inc. and freelance blog writer from Bend, Oregon. For more information about outdoor adventures with your dog, visit dogblog.ruffwear.net, or contact @oregonamber on Twitter.

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