Why Do Some Pets Gobble Their Food

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In domestic dogs, she says speed of eating seems to be a breed-specific characteristic. Certain breeds of dogs swallow their food in a gulp or two, while others prefer to nibble or graze. “Beagles and Labrador Retrievers are among those breeds known to be gobblers,” she says.

In addition to breed, there is considerable individual variation in eating habits. “This may be related to early experiences and feeding management, and competition, real or perceived, for food bowl access, environmental factors, including those that may leave a dog more or less relaxed while eating, and availability of food.”

Breed doesn’t appear to play a role in feline gobblers. Dr. Laflamme says there are no scientific studies to identify the reasons behind “Garfield”-type cats. But she speculates there may be several reasons, alone or in combination, for this behavior in both cats and dogs.

Those starved as strays may be more food-focused, she says. Also, young pets who are meal-fed rather than free-fed during early development may be more likely to be rapid eaters. “This is based on a limited number of animals and personal observations,” she says.

Cats evolved as solitary hunters and eaters. It’s hard to share a single mouse, after all. That means when cats must share food bowls, eat side by side with other felines, or compete with another cat or dog, they may resort to gulping food quickly or risk getting nothing at all.

Does Gobbling Have Risks?

For cats, gorging can lead to obesity, or nutritional upset if they habitually vomit. Some veterinarians describe stressed-cat eating as “scarf-and-barf.” In other words, eating too quickly from stress-related causes can result in the cat’s food coming back up just as quickly. That’s not good for your carpet, your blood pressure, or your cats.

But for otherwise healthy dogs, gulping food isn’t necessarily a bad thing, says Dr. Laflamme. Eating quickly can save time for owners of multiple dogs, when you can control the amount each dog eats, she says. “Dogs can easily consume all their food in just a few minutes, so can be quickly fed once or twice daily. Since this is a natural pattern for dogs, it may not be of any concern.”

However, part of the natural pattern in wolves and pack animals is to gorge with rapid feeding, then regurgitate and re-consume the food while they are away from the frenzy. “Most pet owners are less keen on this habit, despite it being natural,” says Dr. Laflamme.

One health concern has been linked with rapid eating, says Dr. Laflamme. Gastric dilatation volvulus, or bloat, particularly affects large breed dogs, especially deep-chested dogs.

8 Ways to Help Slow Down Pet Food Consumption

Helping dogs and cats eat more slowly comes down to managing mealtime. Dr. Laflamme offers these 8 suggestions:

1. Add water to the food to increase volume
2. Feed larger kibble or chunk sizes so pets must chew rather than gulp
3. Use an automatic feeding device that opens on a scheduled timer to access a portion of the daily ration. That can divide a single meal into multiple small meals.
4. Place one or more non-swallowable balls, large stones, or heavy chain into the feeding bowl so dogs must pick around obstacles to find kibbles.
5. Use puzzle feeders designed for the purpose. Kibbles placed inside are released a few at a time during paw-rolling, nose-nudging play. Homemade versions can be made using plastic water bottles or similar.
6. For cats gobbling out of competition or stress, consider feeding them separately.
7. Hide puzzle toys for cats to “hunt.”
8. Smear “licky mats” with canned food to slow consumption.

photo source: Pexels
source: Fear Free Happy Homes

Reasons to Walk Your Pet More

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What’s better than starting off a new year by helping not only yourself, but your furry friend as well? We couldn’t think of a better way to get off on the right foot, and there’s an easy way to do just that—walking. There are many benefits that come from walking your pet—so many, in fact, that we can’t list them all—so the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center (APCC) wants to share just a few of our favorite facts about walking.

1. Great for your health, and theirs.

Walking is good for your heart, muscles, joints, waistline and even your mental health. Plus, there’s no better stress relief than watching your pet’s eager interest and wagging tail. Walking is good for their health, too. Just like you, it helps with their waistline, joints and muscles. Healthy pet parents make for healthy pets.

2. Get social without your phone.

Getting out will help you meet people, maybe even some potential animal lovers like you. Before long, you may have a new friend to join your daily walks. If you love animals, walking is also a great time for bird (or other wildlife) watching. You can also learn more about the plants in your neighborhood or local parks.

3. Stay out of trouble!

Many dogs and cats tend to start looking for trouble when they get bored (the APCC knows this better than anyone!). Bored pets are more likely to get into cabinets or closets, or up onto tables, and eat things that can be dangerous for them. Regular walks not only give pets exercise—the mental stimulation is great for keeping them out of trouble when they’re back home.

Get Out and Go

If you are like most people, finding the time or energy to take your pet outside can sometimes be a challenge. With a little planning, however, your days of sitting on the couch will be long gone.

While it would be ideal to walk your pup for 30 minutes, five times a week, starting small may work better for you. Start with 10 minutes, three times a week. You may find that you and your furry friend enjoy it so much, you’ll want to walk longer and go more often.

A local park may be a nice place destination, but if you have to jump in the car to get there, you may be less inclined to go. Consider starting closer to home. Start your walk by just walking out your door. And if you find you are still struggling to make these walks a part of your daily routine, consider inviting a friend along or setting a reminder on your phone. You may also find that your four-legged friend will become a better reminder than your phone, once they get into the habit.

A Few Tips

The nice part about walking is that it doesn’t take a lot of planning or equipment, but there are still a few things to keep in mind:

– Make sure to keep your pet leashed in unfamiliar or public areas.
– Always have proper identification on your pet.
– Avoid walking in extreme weather conditions.
– Remember to bring plastic bags to clean up after your pet.
– If you are going for a longer walk, remember to bring some fresh water for you and your pet.

photo source: Pixabay

source: ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center (APCC)

Corgi Puts The Brakes On Leaving The Closed Dog Park

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For as long as his family can remember, Waffles’ two favorite things in the world have always been his toy balls and going to the park.
“We can’t even say the word ‘park’ or ‘ball’ in the house, otherwise he will bark until we take him and that’s not an exaggeration,” Michaella Sena, Waffles’ mom, told The Dodo. “Eventually he turns the bark into a constant whimper and it does not stop, so we are very careful with our words because God forbid we say basketBALL or picnic in a PARK because then we have to go that second.”
Waffles very much looks forward to his walks to the park, but last week, when he and his dad arrived at the park as usual, his dad quickly realized it was closed for a holiday event. He tried to explain to Waffles that they couldn’t stroll through the park that day — but Waffles absolutely refused to listen.
The stubborn corgi had been told he was going to the park…

… so he dug his heels in and refused to move until that dream came true.
“When we say park it means park,” Sena said. “So, he put on his corgi brakes and was parking himself there until he could go inside.”
Luckily for Waffles, the standoff didn’t last long — because his dad just can’t say no to that adorable face.
“All right, fine, but if we get in trouble it’s your fault,” Waffles’ dad said to him in a video of the standoff that he later sent to Sena.
Despite all the signs, the pair casually made their way into the park and tried to stroll around unnoticed. Even if it meant breaking the rules, Waffles was getting his walk through the park, no matter what. The whole thing actually went pretty smoothly — until they almost accidentally got trapped inside.
“When they got to the other side of the park, they turned around and noticed a woman locking up the gate, so they had to sneak out of a different lot where all the workers were parked — otherwise Waffles’ lifelong dream to live in the park would have come true,” Sena said.
To Waffles, of course, it was still an incredibly successful trip to the park, because it happened at all. A few signs were never going to stop the stubborn corgi from following his dreams.
photo source: Michaella Sena/ The Dodo
source: The Dodo

How You and You Pet Can Cope With Colder Weather

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With the United States starting to deal with colder temperatures. it’s a good time to remind clients how they can keep their pets safe during cold weather. The American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) offers these tips:

Know the pet’s limits. A pet’s tolerance for cold temperatures varies from pet to pet based on their coat thickness, body fat stores, activity level, and health. Owners should be aware of their pet’s tolerance for cold weather, and adjust accordingly. Recommend that they shorten their dog’s walks in very cold weather to protect owner and dog from weather-associated health risks.

Tread carefully. Arthritic and elderly pets may have more difficulty walking on snow and ice, and be more prone to slipping and falling. Short-legged pets may become cold faster because their bellies and bodies are more likely to come into contact with snow-covered ground.

Factor in other health problems. Consider the pet’s history. Pets with diabetes, heart disease, kidney disease, or hormonal imbalances (such as Cushing’s disease) may have a harder time regulating their body temperature, and may be more susceptible to problems from temperature extremes.

Consider the coat. Long-haired or thick-coated dogs tend to be more cold-tolerant, but are still at risk in cold weather. Short-haired pets feel the cold faster because they have less protection,

Pause for paws. Stop and check the dog’s paws frequently for signs of cold-weather injury or damage. Look for cracked paw pads or bleeding. During a walk, a sudden lameness may be due to an injury or may be due to ice accumulation between her toes.
Keep it clean. During wintry walks, a dog’s feet, legs and belly may pick up deicers, antifreeze, or other potentially toxic chemicals. Owners should wipe down (or wash) their pet’s feet, legs and belly when they get back inside to remove these chemicals and reduce the risk that their dog will be poisoned after she licks them off her feet or fur.

Or just stay inside. It’s a common belief that dogs and cats are more resistant than people to cold weather because of their fur, but that’s not true. Cats and dogs are susceptible to frostbite and hypothermia and should be kept inside during extreme cold weather.
So until the weather breaks, maybe the best idea is for both owner and pet to snuggle up under a thick blanket, and catch the second season of the Crown.

photo source: Pexels
source: AHHA

Safety Tips To Keep Your Pet Warm This Coming Winter Season

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As fall is coming to an end, it is time for pet owners to prepare their pets for cold winter temperatures.
Exposure to winter’s dry, cold air and chilly rain, sleet and snow can cause chapped paws and itchy, flaking skin, but these aren’t the only discomforts pets can suffer. Winter walks can become downright dangerous if chemicals from ice-melting agents are licked off of bare paws. To help prevent cold weather dangers from affecting your pet’s health, please heed the following advice from our experts:
– Repeatedly coming out of the cold into the dry heat of your home can cause itchy, flaking skin. Keep your home humidified and towel dry your pet as soon as he comes inside, paying special attention to his feet and in-between the toes. Remove any snow balls from between his foot pads.
– Never shave your dog down to the skin in winter, as a longer coat will provide more warmth. If your dog is long-haired, simply trim him to minimize the clinging ice balls, salt crystals and de-icing chemicals that can dry his skin, and don’t neglect the hair between his toes. If your dog is short-haired, consider getting him a coat or sweater with a high collar or turtleneck with coverage from the base of the tail to the belly. For many dogs, this is regulation winter wear.
– Bring a towel on long walks to clean off stinging, irritated paws. After each walk, wash and dry your pet’s feet and stomach to remove ice, salt and chemicals—and check for cracks in paw pads or redness between the toes.

– Bathe your pets as little as possible during cold spells. Washing too often can remove essential oils and increase the chance of developing dry, flaky skin. If your pooch must be bathed, ask your vet to recommend a moisturizing shampoo and/or rinse.
– Massaging petroleum jelly or other paw protectants into paw pads before going outside can help protect from salt and chemical agents. Booties provide even more coverage and can also prevent sand and salt from getting lodged between bare toes and causing irritation. Use pet-friendly ice melts whenever possible.
– Like coolant, antifreeze is a lethal poison for dogs and cats. Be sure to thoroughly clean up any spills from your vehicle, and consider using products that contain propylene glycol rather than ethylene glycol.
– Pets burn extra energy by trying to stay warm in wintertime. Feeding your pet a little bit more during the cold weather months can provide much-needed calories, and making sure she has plenty of water to drink will help keep her well-hydrated and her skin less dry.

– Make sure your companion animal has a warm place to sleep, off the floor and away from all drafts. A cozy dog or cat bed with a warm blanket or pillow is perfect.
– Remember, if it’s too cold for you, it’s probably too cold for your pet, so keep your animals inside. If left outdoors, pets can freeze, become disoriented, lost, stolen, injured or killed. In addition, don’t leave pets alone in a car during cold weather, as cars can act as refrigerators that hold in the cold and cause animals to freeze to death.
photo source: Pixabay
source: ASPCA

What You Need to Know About the Long-term Effects of Pet Obesity

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Did you know you may be literally killing your pet with kindness? That’s right, those daily treats you give your pet may give the illusion that all is well, but the reality is that the extra treats and the resulting extra weight are causing lasting damage to your pet’s internal organs, bones, and joints — some of which can never be remedied even with a change in diet and exercise.

Worried yet? According to veterinarians across the U.S., more obese pets than ever are showing up in their clinics and the trend does not appear to be slowing. It is not surprising that excess weight can take as much of a toll on an animal’s body as it does on a human’s body. While some of the effects of obesity can be reversed through attentive diet changes and increased physical activity, there is some damage that can only be mitigated by the change of habits. Some damage will remain for life, and the longer the excess weight is on the body, the more severe the damage to the body will be.

Research is the first step toward making the changes that will grant you and your pet longer lives in which you can enjoy each other’s company. Here then, are some ways to identify whether your pet is overweight or obese, along with a few beginning steps on how to reverse the damage before it’s too late.

What Kinds of Changes Should You Look Out For?

Many pet owners will not notice their dog or cat has been gradually putting on extra weight until the animal starts slowing down significantly. More often it is the animal’s regular groomer or veterinarian that will notice your pet’s physical changes. To do a check on your pet, feel around its midsection while your pet is standing. The ribs and spine should be easy to feel, and on most pets there should be a tucked in, or slight hourglass shape to the waist. If you cannot easily feel your dog or cat’s ribs or spine, and the tucked-in waist has thickened considerably enough to give the animal a more tubular shape, it is time for you to consult with your veterinarian about a weight loss regimen for your pet.

What Harm Can a Few Pounds Do?

According to recent findings by the Association for Pet Obesity Prevention (APOP), more than 45 percent of dogs and 58 percent of cats can be classified as overweight or obese. A gain of even a pound or two of additional fat on some dogs and cats can place significant stress on the body.

Some of the conditions that can occur as a result of excess weight are:

– Exercise intolerance, decreased stamina
– Respiratory compromise (breathing difficulty)
– Heat intolerance
– Hypertension (high blood pressure)
– Diabetes or insulin resistance
– Liver disease or dysfunction
– Osteoarthritis (lameness)
– Increased surgical/anesthetic risk
– Lowered immune system function
– Increased risk of developing malignant tumors (cancer)

What Can Be Done to Alleviate the Damage?

In many cultures, the sharing of food is regarded as a loving gesture, but the most loving thing you can do for your overweight pet is to put it on a diet. This is the only way to ensure that your pet will have the best opportunity for a life that is full of activity and good health. Besides, there are lots of healthy treats available, and lots of loving gestures you can share with your pet without worrying about them leading to weight gain. Talk to your veterinarian about a good reduced-calorie food and exercise plan that will specifically benefit your pet’s age, weight and breed, and you will be on your way to getting your pet on the road to recovery before it is too late.

photo source: Pixabay

source: Pixabay

What’s Are the Most Common Household Toxins for Pets?

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As a pet owner, you want to keep your furry friend safe and healthy, but your pet’s curious nature can sometimes get him into trouble. Animals investigate the world with their mouths and can accidentally ingest poisonous substances.

The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) Animal Poison Control Center is open 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, to advise pet owners about potential pet toxicities. To help you take precautions and ensure your pet stays safe, the ASPCA has compiled a list of the most-frequent offenders, many of which can likely be found in and around your home.

Pets and over-the-counter medications

In 2018, the ASPCA received 213,773 calls, almost 20% of which were related to ingestion of over-the-counter medications, such as ibuprofen, naproxen, cold medications, and herbal supplements. Even a medication that does not require a prescription can be extremely dangerous to your pet. Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatories such as ibuprofen and naproxen can cause acute kidney failure and should never be given to pets. Do not try to treat your pet’s medical problems without consulting an AAHA-accredited veterinarian, and never give him a medication that is not approved for veterinary use.

Human prescription medications and pets

ADHD medications, antidepressants, and heart medications were most commonly ingested by pets, although your pet can suffer significant side effects from any human medication he eats. Keep all medications, both prescription and over the counter, safely stored inside a medicine cabinet or cupboard or up high where your pet cannot reach them, and ask all your visitors to do the same.

What foods are toxic to pets?

Many foods that are safe for people can be deadly to pets. Keep the following toxic foods away from your beloved companion:

– Chocolate
– Xylitol (often found in sugar-free gum)
– Macadamia nuts
– Grapes and raisins
– Onions
– Garlic
– Alcohol
– Caffeinated drinks
– Raw yeast dough
– Raw or undercooked meat

Never leave food where your pet can reach it, and keep pets out of the kitchen when children are eating to prevent them from gobbling up dropped food.

What about prescription veterinary products?

Prescription animal medications are often flavored to increase palatability, so pets may mistake them for treats and eat more than prescribed. Inquisitive pets may even eat pills that aren’t flavored, so keep all medications out of your pet’s reach. Remember, animals can chew through plastic bottles, so child-proof may not mean pet-proof.

What other household items are dangerous to my pet?

Products such as paint, glue, and cleaning chemicals are often left out on the assumption that pets won’t eat these bad-tasting substances. But sometimes pets lap up liquids because they feel good or have an interesting texture. Household products can contain dangerous chemicals, and some household glues expand in the stomach and can cause a life-threatening blockage.

Rodenticides

Products designed to kill rodents are particularly dangerous to pets, who may be tempted to eat the tasty bricks, granules, or pellets left out for mice and rats. Rodenticides kill rodents by causing internal bleeding, high calcium levels, brain swelling, or toxic gas production. Never put rat bait out where your pet can find it, and keep your pet confined to your yard to prevent him from eating your neighbors’ rodenticides.

Insecticides and pets

Ant baits, bug sprays, and foggers can be poisonous to your pet. Read labels to ensure you use these products properly and prevent pets from exposure during and after use. Store all insecticides on high shelves out of a pet’s reach.

Plants toxic to pets

Plants found in flower beds, vegetable gardens, and indoor planters and arrangements can be toxic to pets. Cats, who particularly like to munch on greenery, are sensitive to many plant types, but dogs can also be at risk. A complete list of toxic and nontoxic plants can be found on ASPCA’s website, but the most common toxic plants include:

– Autumn crocus
– Azalea
– Cyclamen
– Daffodils
– Dieffenbachia
– Hyacinth
– Kalanchoe
– Lily of the valley
– Lilies
– Oleander
– Sago palm
– Tulips

If your pet eats leaves, flowers, or stems, take him, along with a plant sample, to your AAHA-accredited veterinarian immediately. Although toxicity signs may not be apparent, removing poisonous material as soon as possible to prevent toxin absorption into the body is vital.

Garden products and pets

Many products used on lawns, gardens, and flower beds can cause toxicity in pets. Fertilizers made from bone meal or blood meal are tempting to pets and can cause pancreatitis, or may clump in the intestines or stomach and cause a blockage. Other fertilizers and herbicides applied to lawns also may contain toxic chemicals.
photo source: Pixabay
source: AAHA

Hot Weather Safety Tips for Pets

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As temperatures rise, everyone (and their pets) flock outside to spend time in the nice weather. But warmer weather can be rough on your pets if you’re not prepared. Hot weather-related conditions like heat stroke and dehydration are more common as temperatures rise, so it’s important to pay attention to the signs and use your judgment if it’s safe for your pet to be outdoors. Here are a few hot weather safety tips for pets.

Keep them cool

When the weather is hot, make sure your pet has plenty of options to stay cool. Cats and dogs only sweat through their paws, so it’s easy for them to overheat. Their primary method of cooling off is through their respiratory tract by panting (especially in dogs). Puppies and kittens have an even harder time self-regulating their temperature. Short-nosed (brachycephalic), overweight, and senior pets are just some of the groups that are at a higher risk of overheating and getting heat stroke.

If you’re spending time outside, set up a resting place in a shaded area, encourage your pets to take breaks when they’re playing, encourage them to rest in a raised bed that allows for air circulation underneath, or allow them to rest comfortably inside while you enjoy the sun.

You can also create frozen treats with a Kong or ice cube mold. It can be as simple as freezing water or broth (without onion or garlic) with yummy treats inside. This also aids in keeping your pet hydrated.

Keep them hydrated

Just like humans, cats and dogs can become dehydrated quickly in hot weather—and even a short amount of time outdoors can cause mild dehydration. Make sure to provide plenty of water around the house and bring water (and a bowl) with you if head outside. You can also boost hydration by feeding them canned food or adding water to dry kibble at each meal.

Watch out for signs that your pet is dehydrated, like:

Less energy
Dry nose or gums
Panting
Loss of appetite

Protect their paws

Walking on hot pavement can cause your pet’s paw pads to burn. If it hurts to touch the pavement with the back of your hand, it’s too hot for your pet’s paws. Try exercising your pet in the early morning or after the sun goes down to minimize the burn risk. If you need to be outside with your pet during the hottest parts of the day, consider investing in booties that will protect their paw pads from burns and blisters. Try to do as much of your walking on grass and dirt, as opposed to sidewalks and asphalt (which can get extremely hot!).

Keep the pests away

Spending time outside exposes your pet to more pests that can cause harm. Fleas and ticks thrive during warm temperatures, as do mosquitoes (which can carry and transmit heartworms to your dogs and cats). Make sure your pet is on a good, broad-spectrum parasite preventative medication. This includes indoor-only pets too, as parasites make their way inside through screens and even on the bottom of your shoes.

By The Zoetis Petcare Team

Where Fleas and Ticks Hide in the Fall?

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Fleas and ticks are a year-round nuisance for most of us but, when it comes to the infestations of our yards and our homes, the fall seems to be a particularly terrible season. Here are few areas fleas and ticks like to hide and how to best limit your pet’s exposure to these pesky parasites.

Leaf Piles

The autumn season is probably best known for the beautiful changes it brings to the colors of leaves just before they begin to fall to the ground. Though they may be a pretty sight and a blast for kids (or pets) to play in, leaf piles can also be a haven for fleas, which prefer to congregate in humid areas away from bright sunlight.

Solution: Rake up fallen leaves regularly and immediately bag and dispose of them in a secure trash receptacle.

Tall Grasses/Trees

Ticks love to climb up tall grasses so that they can grab onto a passing animal or human.

Solution: Mow your lawn regularly and trim back branches so they don’t jut out toward walking areas.

Outdoor Feeding/Sleeping Areas

Does your pet frequently sleep outdoors or do you leave out food and water bowls for them? Fleas and ticks recognize these high traffic areas—whether they are trafficked by your pet or a wild animal like a raccoon or possum—and lie in wait until they can latch onto a host.

Solution: Regularly clean out sleeping areas, especially if there are pillows inside. Also, if possible, remove food and water bowls after your pet uses them and/or before nighttime. Raccoons and possums are opportunistic feeders and will eat or drink anything left out. They also are frequently teeming with ticks and fleas.

What if My Pet Doesn’t Go Outdoors Much?

Even if your dog stays close to home, fleas and ticks are canny creatures, and they have ways of making it into your home and onto your pets, even with preventions in place. All it takes is a few fleas or ticks to get established in your yard before you have a full-scale infestation on your hands.

Be Proactive

Visit your veterinarian for advice on the best preventive medications and the safest way to use them. Your doctor will be able to show you the proper way to apply these flea and tick medicines for dogs and recommend just the right dose for your pet’s age and weight. Some people also choose flea and tick preventatives based on their personal preferences or the lifestyles of their pets.

photo source: Pixabay
source: Pet MD

Tips for Preventing Ear Infections in Dogs

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If your pup has floppy ears, allergies, or happens to be an avid swimmer, you’re probably no stranger to canine ear infections. Ear infections in dogs are not uncommon, but using simple, preventive tips can help stop ear infections from developing.

If you suspect your dog has an ear infection, call your vet. “Prompt veterinary care is essential to avoid more serious consequences such as a ruptured eardrum, middle or inner ear infection, and hearing loss,” says Dr. Alli Troutman, a holistic veterinarian at Integrative Veterinary Service in Brookfield, Wisconsin.

Symptoms of ear infections in dogs are hard to miss. “The affected dog is usually shaking his head frequently, may tilt his head with the sore ear usually on the ‘down’ side, and there is often a sour odor coming from the ear,” says Dr. Beth Boynton, Professor of Wellness at Western University College of Veterinary Medicine in Pomona, California. “It may look swollen, red, and full of moist discharge.”

Spare your dog some needless suffering and avoid the expense of extra vet trips with these safe and effective vet-approved tips for preventing ear infections in dogs.

1. Rule Out Underlying Causes

An ear infection is typically a sign that something else is going on with your dog, says Dr. Alexandra Gould, a veterinarian in Tacoma, Washington. “It’s only through treating these underlying causes that ear infections can be prevented.” Causes, she says, include allergies, foreign objects stuck in the ear (like foxtail grasses), hormonal and autoimmune diseases, and tumors.

Very often, allergies are responsible. “Skin allergies bring inflammation to the surface of the body which causes irritation and warmth. The confined space of the ear canal breeds yeast and bacterial growth that further increases the inflammation,” and can lead to ear infections explains Dr. Michael Lund, veterinary staff manager for ASPCA’s Community Medicine Department in New York.

Like us, dogs can react to any number of allergens in the environment, like pollen, grass, mites, and fleas (another reason to protect your dog with proper flea and tick prevention). And what you feed your dog may be the problem, says Boynton. Some dogs have food allergies or food sensitivities, which can predispose them to ear infections. “Dogs in the United States most often react to beef, dairy products, and wheat,” she says.

2. Keep the Ears Dry

“Yeast and bacteria thrive in warm and moist environments—and many dog ears prove to be the perfect Petri dish,” says Lund. This is especially true for breeds like Cocker Spaniels and Retrievers, whose floppy ears trap moisture.

He says the best preventive for these types of dogs who are predisposed to ear infections is cleansing and drying the ears every five to 10 days. If your dog is a swimmer or is bathed regularly, clean his ears as soon as possible after water exposure. “This ensures the moisture is adequately removed to prevent yeast and bacteria from getting a chance to colonize the ear canals.”

Dr. Jill Abraham, a board-certified dermatology specialist with Blue Pearl Veterinary Partners in Midtown, New York, suggests placing a cotton ball in the ears during bath time to keep them dry. “You don’t have to push the cotton ball in deep, it can rest at the opening of the ear.”

After the bath, remember to remove the cotton ball and dry the ears. “After a bath, you can use a dry paper or cloth towel to dry the inside flap and around the opening of the ear canal.”

3. Keep the Ears Clean

To clean the ears, Abraham suggests the following routine. Lift up the earflap, then fill up the canal with a vet-recommended solution, or soak a cotton ball with solution and squeeze the liquid into the canal. After gently massaging the base of the ear for 20 to 30 seconds and letting your dog shake his head, use dry cotton balls or soft towels to wipe off debris. “You can use cotton-tipped applicators in the folds inside the ear flap, but don’t insert any into the ear canals,” she says. “This could push wax and infection deeper down and damage the ear drum.”

What Is the Best Ear Cleaner for Dogs?

Lund advises against home-made ear-cleaning solutions like diluted hydrogen peroxide, vinegar, and rubbing alcohol. “At-home remedies are often half water, and water in the ear is what can predispose many dogs to ear infections.” Instead, ask your vet for a recommendation based on your pet’s specific needs.

4. Consider Supplements

Of course there is no substitute for a nutritionally complete diet made from high quality ingredients, but the following supplements may be used as part of your strategy for preventing ear infections. Always check with your veterinarian before feeding your dog supplements.

If allergies are at the root of your dog’s ear infections, a daily omega-3 fatty supplement can help. These supplements can reduce inflammation, which may lessen the risk of ear infections, says Lund. Omega-3 fatty acids, like those found in fish oil supplements may “decrease inflammation associated with skin allergies that often appear in a dog’s ears and feet.”

A malfunctioning immune system can make your dog more prone to infections, so maintaining balance is essential. A probiotic supplement can balance the normal bacterial flora within the intestinal tract and promote an appropriate immune response. “A healthy gut is a happy gut, and a happy gut is a healthy immune system,” says Troutman.

5. Reconsider Plucking Ear Hairs

Plucking your dog’s ear hair can be beneficial, but it’s not appropriate for every dog. “I stick by the old adage, ‘If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it,’” says Abraham. If a dog has healthy ears and has not had infections, she often advises pet parents not to pluck. “But, if a dog with very hairy canals keeps getting ear infections then it can help to keep the canals free of hair.”

If you do decide to pluck hair from your dog’s ears, this is probably not something you want to try at home, unless you’re experienced. Overly-aggressive plucking could lead to pain and cause more ear problems.

“I don’t advise pet owners try plucking ear hairs at home on their own. This is best performed by a groomer or veterinary professional.”

photo source: Pixabay
source: Pet MD