A Wonderful Cause For Animals And People – Heifer International

Heifer International embraces the “teach a man to fish” philosophy in empowering people to raise themselves and their communities out of poverty through farm animal donations and education.  The donations are paired with love, humanity, and appreciation for the animals, while providing best practices and sustainable agricultural prosperity to areas of the world stricken with poverty, famine, and disease.

Heifer International empowers families to turn hunger and poverty into hope and prosperity – but their approach is more than just giving them a handout. Heifer links communities and helps bring sustainable agriculture and commerce to areas with a long history of poverty. Their animals provide partners with both food and reliable income, as agricultural products such as milk, eggs and honey that can be traded or sold at market.  When many families gain this new sustainable income, it brings new opportunities for building schools, creating agricultural cooperatives, forming community savings and funding small businesses.

Giving an animal is no ordinary gift.  Giving an animal in an impoverished area is like giving someone a small business, providing wool, milk, eggs and more. Animal donations can provide families a hand up, increasing access to medicine, school, food and a sustainable livelihood; while promoting the human-animal bond.

Women empowerment is a huge aspect of the Heifer cause.  If women farmers had access to the same resources as men, more than 150 million additional people would have enough food to eat. Heifer provides support for women’s groups, training in gender equality and the means to send girls to school to help empower women around the world to reach their full potential.

Heifer International Empowers WomenSustainable farming encourages restering the Earth, as caring for the Earth is vital to ending hunger and poverty, whether it’s through reforestation, organic gardening or adoption of fuels that reduce the ill effects to the environment.

The veterinary community has begun to put the full force of their influence behind this project.  Veterinary pharmaceutical companies are getting in on the cause through generous matching of veterinary hospital and veterinary purchasing group donations.  Elanco, for example, has recently pledged a $100,000 match of a donation from the animal hospitals of Veterinary Study Groups.

Individuals looking to help not only other individuals but whole families and communities may get in on the action through a donation of your own.  I encourage my readers to make your own pledge of support that fits your budget; no matter how modest every little bit of help counts.  You may learn more details of the program and donate at the link below:

https://www.heifer.org/

Dr. Roger Welton is a practicing veterinarian and highly regarded media personality through a number of topics and platforms.  In addition to being passionate about integrative veterinary medicine for which he is a nationally renowned expert, Dr. Welton was also an accomplished college lacrosse player and remains to this day very involved in the sport.  He is president of Maybeck Animal Hospital , runs the successful veterinary/animal health  blogs Web-DVM and Dr. Roger’s Holistic Veterinary Care, and fulfills his passion for lacrosse through his lacrosse and sport blog, The Creator’s Game.

Cats Meow Only At People, Not To Each Other

Cats are such an extraordinary and unique species.  They are by their nature they are fight or flight based animals that consequently can survive on their own (albeit not ideally) in the wild.  In their wild state, they most commonly choose a solitary and territorial existence.

Yet despite their fight or slight and solitary nature, they so often give and accept abundant affection and thrive in human families, even among other cats and dogs within a household.  While some cats are more talkative than others, many will communicate with their humans by meowing.  Cats will meow for some or all of the following reasons:

To greet people.

To solicit attention.

To ask for food.

To ask to be let in or out.

From mental confusion or cognitive dysfunction brought on by age.

Interestingly, while kittens will meow for Mom’s attention and vice versa, adult cats do not meow at one another.  During times of combativeness toward one another, cats they may hiss or growl and females in heat seeking to attract a mate sometimes make a characteristic yowling sound; but they do not meow at one another.  That particular form of communication seems to be reserved almost exclusively for people.

I am amazed that I just recently learned of this feline phenomenon 15 years into practicing veterinary medicine!  Once I read about it, however, I have repeatedly tested the general observation with my own cats and with cats who board at my practice.  I will often sneak in and observe from around a corner to watch them play and interact with one another and time and again with not a sound heard from them.  Once I walk in and they see me, however, I am greeted by a chorus of meows.

It seems that as cats have evolved across literally thousands of years living among and in close proximity with humans, they’ve gained an instinctual understanding that meowing at humans is an effective way to get our attention and express their wants, needs, and affections.

There are some people who do not particularly care for cats because unlike dogs they may not come when they are called, may be aloof, and as a result leave some with the impression that they do not truly love the pet owner as sincerely and completely as a dog would.  For the people that feel this way, I would point out that while cats may express themselves differently than dogs, they express themselves nonetheless with a language that they reserve almost exclusively just for us.

Dr. Roger Welton is a practicing veterinarian and highly regarded media personality through a number of topics and platforms.  In addition to being passionate about integrative veterinary medicine for which he is a nationally renowned expert, Dr. Welton was also an accomplished college lacrosse player and remains to this day very involved in the sport.  He is president of Maybeck Animal Hospital , runs the successful veterinary/animal health  blogs Web-DVM and Dr. Roger’s Holistic Veterinary Care, and fulfills his passion for lacrosse through his lacrosse and sport blog, The Creator’s Game.

 

An Easy, Cost Free, Effective, and Enjoyable Treatment For Dogs With Dementia

Dementia, or Canine Cognitive Dysfunction, is a common a far more common disease in dogs than most dog owners are aware of.  Since “senior moments” in dogs cannot be articulated as they are in people, signs of dementia tend to be more subtle at first.

We commonly hear owners describe their senior dog exhibiting “selective hearing.”  This more often than not is a subtle but clear sign of early cognitive dysfunction.  While they may not connect their name when being called with an owner intention to summons them, they may still have no difficulty in responding to more recognizable (because they are the most enjoyable events of their day) sounds like the sound of kibble hitting the bowl at feeding time.

Statistically, 30% of dogs over the age of 11 and 100% of dogs over the age of 15 are showing significant signs of cognitive dysfunction.  There are recommended holistic supplements known to be helpful in managing these cases such as omega-3-fatty acids, and SAM-E.  There is a very effective medication called selegiline that often successfully manages cognitive dysfunction by increasing levels of serotonin and dopamine in the brain.

Perhaps the most effective treatment for dog dementia is something that is also physically good for the dog, physically good for the owner, and mentally good for both: a nice neighborhood walk.  Walking provides the dog with mental stimulus that increases sensory input in the brain, increases blood flow to the brain, increases serotonin production in the brain (which reduces anxiety that commonly accompanies cognitive dysfunction).

When walking with your senior dog, be patient. Let him sniff a lot.  Sniffing is the primary method of sensory input for dogs, far more valuable to them than even  their eyes.  Sniffing other dogs, wildlife, and all of the myriad scents of nature are not only enjoyable to your dog, but provide a wealth of sensory input that exercises his brain.  The physical benefits of keeping arthritic joints moving and keeping up muscle tone to help combat arthritis are an added bonus.

So…if you think your dog may be experiencing dementia or cognitive dysfunction, a daily walk is just what the doctor ordered.

Dr. Roger Welton is a practicing veterinarian and highly regarded media personality through a number of topics and platforms.  In addition to being passionate about integrative veterinary medicine for which he is a nationally renowned expert, Dr. Welton was also an accomplished college lacrosse player and remains to this day very involved in the sport.  He is president of Maybeck Animal Hospital , runs the successful veterinary/animal health  blogs Web-DVM and Dr. Roger’s Holistic Veterinary Care, and fulfills his passion for lacrosse through his lacrosse and sport blog, The Creator’s Game.

 

The Love And Beauty Of A Senior Pet

As a society, we tend to be enamored with puppies and kittens.  To be sure, they are adorable, playful, and fun and bring with them the promise of many years of companionship.  On the other hand, they are often undeniable knuckleheads that can be destructive and a serious danger to themselves, prone to eating things that get stuck in their gut or make them sick, chewing electrical cords, and are for all intents and purposes, clueless.

On the contrary,  senior dogs and cats have a dignity and wisdom about them that is etched in their gray hairs and meaningful and deep expressions.  If we are fortunate to have the privilege to have healthy pets well into their senior years, there is a bond so deep with their humans that expectations are a given and words are often not even necessary to communicate.

While the love of a puppy or kitten is in your face, up close and center, the love of senior dogs and cats is no less unconditional and vibrant, but comes with a confidence that does not require demand nor statement.  Merely being in the same room, exchanging glances, and enjoying one another’s routines set by years of co-existence suffices.

While the senior dog may not be able to swim, catch the Frisbee, or run like he used to, nor the senior cat climb, jump, or chase the laser pointer like he used to; they snuggle more patiently and willingly than they ever have and know you more deep and profound way than they ever have.

Senior pets require more care and special needs with regard to their health, but that is what we signed up for when we made the commitment to taking on a precious life to spend part of our life’s journey with us.  For them, there is no question that they will stick with us whether we are physically able, disabled, rich, poor, or homeless; we owe them no less.

So while puppies and kittens are cute and fun, today, my tribute is to the wonderful senior pets of the world.  May we all be so lucky to keep our pets well into their senior years to enjoy the privilege of the inner beauty of the senior pet.

Dr. Roger Welton is a practicing veterinarian and highly regarded media personality through a number of topics and platforms.  In addition to being passionate about integrative veterinary medicine for which he is a nationally renowned expert, Dr. Welton was also an accomplished college lacrosse player and remains to this day very involved in the sport.  He is president of Maybeck Animal Hospital , runs the successful veterinary/animal health  blogs Web-DVM and Dr. Roger’s Holistic Veterinary Care, and fulfills his passion for lacrosse through his lacrosse and sport blog, The Creator’s Game.

Can Fleas Be Controlled Naturally In Dogs & Cats?

The direct answer to this question is yes. However, I will state plainly and unequivocally it is not brewer’s yeast or garlic. Naturally minded pet owners need to stop living in denial about brewer’s yeast and garlic as legitimate flea preventive agents: FACE FACTS, THEY DO NOT WORK. The actual answer will be quite surprising to most naturally and holistically minded pet owners. But first, a little background is in order.

Scientists have for some time observed that plants that grow in soil laden with species bacteria called Saccharopolyspora spinosa were conspicuously devoid of insect pests. Further research determined that the reason behind the insecticidal properties of the soil was due to a secretory molecule within the bacteria called spinosad. Specifically, while posing little toxicity risk to mammalian species, spinosad is highly toxic to an adult insect’s nervous system, with contact leading to rapid and high mortality rates in many species of insects, most notably, fleas.

Pharmaceutical Eli Lilly has been able to isolate and mass produce spinosad in two of their animal health division’s marquis products for dogs and cats: monthly oral flea preventive Comfortis, and monthly oral heartworm and flea preventive, Trifexis. A spinosad derivative called spinatorem is available for cats, administered as a monthly topical flea preventive.  In either form, isolated and mass produced by a pharmaceutical, spinosad is still by in large considered to be a natural isolate and insecticide, to the extent that a garden may still be legally identified as “organic” if spinosad is applied for insect control.

This is where so many naturally minded pet owners are quite surprised at my answer when they ask me if there are any natural or holistic flea prevention/control options available. They expect me to tell them that brewer’s yeast, garlic, cedar sprays, ultrasonic emitters, and other natural modalities that are popular internet pet forum talking points but do not actually work for prevention of fleas, are the answer; when the only currently proven natural flea prevention solution comes from a multibillion dollar a year pharmaceutical company.

Dr. Roger Welton is a practicing veterinarian and highly regarded media personality through a number of topics and platforms.  In addition to being passionate about integrative veterinary medicine for which he is a nationally renowned expert, Dr. Welton was also an accomplished college lacrosse player and remains to this day very involved in the sport.  He is president of Maybeck Animal Hospital , runs the successful veterinary/animal health  blogs Web-DVM and Dr. Roger’s Holistic Veterinary Care, and fulfills his passion for lacrosse through his lacrosse and sport blog, The Creator’s Game.

Naturally Reducing The Impact Of & Maintaining Cardiac Function In Dogs In Cats With Heart Disease

Natural Treatment For Heart Disease In Dogs And CatsWith few exceptions, regardless of the many different presentations of chronic heart disease in dogs and cats, whether primarily or secondarily, there are metabolic and structural abnormalities at the level of the heart muscle. These abnormalities lead to electrical conduction anomalies, deficiencies in the strength and timeliness of heart contractions, and compromise the ability of the heart chambers to adequately fill with blood. The net result of this is a heart that is grossly inefficient and fails to circulate adequate amounts of blood to oxygenate and nourish the body.

Our medical technology in treatment of heart disease has effectively retained quality of life and significant longevity for canine and feline patients with chronic heart disease. Just in my 12 plus year career alone, the advances in medical management of heart disease has progressed by leaps and bounds. However, the supplemental side of nutrient therapy to aid in the treatment of heart disease has progressed painstakingly slowly. What’s more, heart healthy supplements have for too long been ignored as a means to effectively prevent or stave off heart disease in dogs and cats.

L-Carnitine

L-Carnitine is an amino acid that is not considered an essential amino acid, as a normal body can produced all it needs by the liver utilizing the amino acids lysine and methionine, in combination with Vitamin C, B1, and B6. Carnitine is required for transporting long chain fatty acids into the mitochondria of cells, tiny cellular structures that are consider the powerhouse of the cell. Once transported into the mitochondria, the fatty acids are converted into the ultimate chemical energy source of the body, known as adenosine triphosphate (ATP). Mitochondria are abundant in the cells of all organs that have a large energy requirement, including the heart.

Although the normal pet is able to manufacture all of the L-Carnitine it needs under normal circumstances, it may not under different circumstances, where there may be an inherited deficiency in manufacturing this amino acid. It has actually been long theorized that this is the mechanism behind a specific kind of heart failure called dilative cardiomyopathy.

There is also credible evidence that even in chronic heart disease patients that manufacture adequate levels of L-Carnitine, that providing additional L-Carnitine has shown considerable benefit in management of progression and severity of disease. Thus, L-Carnitine should be an integral supplement taken by all patients afflicted with any stage of chronic heart disease. What’s more, for all breeds where dilative cardiomyopathy is seen more commonly – Cocker Spaniels, Great Danes, Doberman Pinschers, and all giant breed dogs – these dogs should be started on a regular regimen of L-Carnitine early on.

Coenzyme Q10

Coenzyme Q10 is also present in the mitochondria of the cells. It is involved in the conversion of oxygen into energy for the cell. It is especially important for the cells of organs that have high oxygen requirements, such as the heart and brain. Given its affinity for oxygen and other oxidizing compounds, Coenzyme Q10 is also a very potent anti-oxidant that protects tissues and organs from oxidizing chemicals and metabolites. All of this considered, it should come as no surprise that research suggests that Coenzyme Q10 is an invaluable supplement for management of heart muscle damage and debilitation.

Taurine

Taurine is an essential amino acid that has particularly high concentrations in the eyes and heart. It is considered essential to heart health, as deficiencies of it are directly linked to a dilative cardiomyopathy in cats and dogs. However, Taurine deficiency is not necessarily a dietary deficiency, but it could be an inherited abnormality in a dog’s or cat’s ability to absorb and assimilate the nutrient from the diet.

In most cases, dogs and cats fed animal meat based diets will satisfy their Taurine needs. With regard to cats, I have not actually seen a case of dilative cardiomyopathy in a cat fed a feline labelled diet, or home prepared diet heavy in meats. I have, however, seen many cases of heart disease in dogs fed canine diets with adequate crude protein requirements, or home prepared diets heavy in meats.

As such, like Coenzyme Q10 and L-Carnitine, Taurine should also be an integral component to management of chronic heart disease in dogs and cats. Also like L-Carnitine and Coenzyme Q10 in dog breeds known to be predisposed to dilative cardiomyopathy, they should be started and maintained on supplementation from a young age.

Dr. Roger Welton is a practicing veterinarian and highly regarded media personality through a number of topics and platforms.  In addition to being passionate about integrative veterinary medicine for which he is a nationally renowned expert, Dr. Welton was also an accomplished college lacrosse player and remains to this day very involved in the sport.  He is president of Maybeck Animal Hospital , runs the successful veterinary/animal health  blogs Web-DVM and Dr. Roger’s Holistic Veterinary Care, and fulfills his passion for lacrosse through his lacrosse and sport blog, The Creator’s Game.

Is Holistic Therapy For Epilepsy In Dogs & Cats Possible?

Epilepsy is a seizure disorder seen in dogs and cats, where an abnormal nidus in Natural Therapy And Alternative Medicine For Treatment Of Epilepsy In Dogs And Catsthe brain forms that fires electric pulses on its own and leads to convulsive activity. Conventional treatment for epilepsy can range from nothing for mild cases, to one or more maintenance anti-convulsive medications. What many pet owners with dogs and cats that suffer from epilepsy do not know, is that alternative, holistic therapy is often very helpful in these cases. While alternative options for treatment of epilepsy may not necessarily preclude all dependence on anti-convulsive medications, they can go a long way toward minimizing drug doses, or need for multiple drugs, and may be effective therapy alone for mild to moderate cases of epilepsy.

Regular anti-seizure acupuncture has clearly clinically proven efficacy in reducing the severity and frequency of seizures. Acupuncture is an ancient Chinese form of healing that has been around for thousands of years. The Chinese credit its efficacy in maintaining health and effectively treating a variety of ailments to increasing the flow of a life force through the body, they call Chi. Per Chinese medicine, the blockage of Chi is the root cause of disease in the body, and re-establishing its flow through the body by careful placement of needles along meridians resolves many health issues and optimizes health. From the Western point of view, that is, many Western practitioners of human and veterinary medicine that acknowledges the health benefits of acupuncture, acupuncture works by increasing circulation and nerve conduction.

Whatever one chooses to credit acupuncture’s benefit, there is no question that it works. This is especially evident in animal patients that are not prone to “placebo effect,” the ability of a patient to convince him/her self that a treatment is working solely because he/she wants it to. In animals, it either works or it does not, and acupuncture clearly works in cases of epilepsy. For pet owners seeking alternative medicine for their pet’s epilepsy, seeking a certified veterinary acupuncturist should be the first order of business.

With regard to epilepsy, it is also well documented that mental stimulation (fear, excitement, stress, etc.) can set off seizures. Thus, keeping a dog or cat afflicted with epilepsy calm can be beneficial. Dogs and cats thus may benefit from products that are naturally calming. Supplements that have the calming amino acid tryptophan, as well as calming roots and herbs, such as ginger root, kava, and valerian can help reduce the frequency of seizures in epileptics.

This can be taken one step further with cats, that respond favorably to a calming pheromone that can be placed in sprays and aerosolizing diffusers that is soothing to cats, while not detectable by the senses of people. There are several products available on the market, but be sure to do your research before buying one. The alternative medicine industry for both people and pets is largely unregulated, fake or poor quality products are unfortunately quite common.

Dr. Roger Welton is a practicing veterinarian and highly regarded media personality through a number of topics and platforms.  In addition to being passionate about integrative veterinary medicine for which he is a nationally renowned expert, Dr. Welton was also an accomplished college lacrosse player and remains to this day very involved in the sport.  He is president of Maybeck Animal Hospital , runs the successful veterinary/animal health  blogs Web-DVM and Dr. Roger’s Holistic Veterinary Care, and fulfills his passion for lacrosse through his lacrosse and sport blog, The Creator’s Game.

Dog Or Cat Fart A Lot? Something May Be Wrong.

Even under the best of circumstances, it is unrealistic to think that dogs and catsDog And Cat Farts, Excessive Gas will live free of flatulence. An occasional stinky toot here and there is normal. However, a constant, unrelentingly, gassy pet is not normal, and it usually indicative of an underlying gastrointestinal problem.

Excessive gas most commonly occurs as the result of a food allergy. Food allergy means that there is a dietary sensitivity to one or more ingested proteins in the diet that lead to inflammation of the lining of the gut, subsequent malabsorption, and fermentation of unabsorbed food in the hind gut. Gas is a byproduct of fermentation.

Food allergy is most commonly linked to animal meat protein, the most common of which are beef and chicken. Some pets may also react to large proteins that are present in grass grains, such as wheat, barley, and corn.

Thus, the first step in addressing an excessively gassy pet is to engage in a hypoallergenic food trial. Hypoallergenic diets must have the following qualities.

1.) They must present a novel animal protein source, that is, a protein source that the pet has never been fed before. The body gets sensitized to allergenic proteins over time from repeated ingestion of it, hence the need to present the pet with a completely new protein source. Good choices include venison, rabbit, and duck.

2.) They must be grain and preservative free.

3.) They must be species appropriate nutrient balanced.

The easiest method to accomplish this is to purchase a prescription hypoallergenic diet from your veterinarian that meets these criteria. Another way to accomplish this is home feed with fresh ingredients, if time and schedule permit the commitment. For both species you will want to use fresh meat sources for home prepared diets. Your pet may benefit from raw feeding, but if you go this route, be certain to use companies that specialize in providing raw meat for pets that have good reviews. This will minimize the potential for raw meat bacterial food poisoning. My favorite raw meat sources for pets are those that ship the meat frozen, the customer receives the product still frozen, to then be thawed out and fed on an as needed basis.

You should provide good complex carbohydrate, fiber, and antioxidant sources from fresh vegetables. Green beans, cooked spinach and sliced carrots are good options to feed. If your pet is not crazy about veggies, you can make them more palatable by pureeing them into paste. Under normal circumstances, I am a fan of feeding broccoli, but given its tendency to ferment in the hind gut, it would be best to avoid broccoli for the gassy pet. I advise feeding dogs 50% meat, 50% vegetables, whereas cats should be fed 100% meat, or 80% meat, 20% vegetables (some cats benefit from some fiber in the diet).

Whether you choose to feed prescription veterinary diet or home prepared, you should feed the hypoallergenic diet exclusively for 8 weeks. If the gas problem resolves, then you have your solution: continue to feed it exclusively for life. If the gas continues unabated or is still excessive to some degree, then try adding probiotics and digestive enzymes to the diet. Probiotics provide “good” bacteria essential for normal digestion, whereas digestive enzymes aid in the breaking down of nutrients into optimally absorbable forms to maximize digestive absorption. Both supplement types will help to increase digestion and reduce gas.

If none of the above helps, then the dog or cat may have a condition that is more severe than produced from simple food allergy and malabsorption. These difficult cases should be seen by a veterinarian, as something more serious like inflammatory bowel disease chronic parasites may be present.

Dr. Roger Welton is a practicing veterinarian and highly regarded media personality through a number of topics and platforms.  In addition to being passionate about integrative veterinary medicine for which he is a nationally renowned expert, Dr. Welton was also an accomplished college lacrosse player and remains to this day very involved in the sport.  He is president of Maybeck Animal Hospital , runs the successful veterinary/animal health  blogs Web-DVM and Dr. Roger’s Holistic Veterinary Care, and fulfills his passion for lacrosse through his lacrosse and sport blog, The Creator’s Game.

Therapeutic Massage For Dogs Has Proven Health Benefits

Massaging your dog will no doubt be an enjoyable and bonding experience for the both of you, but it also has proven health benefits just as it does in people.  Per the Mayo clinic, therapeutic massage in people can help to treat digestive disorders, anxiety/stress, soft tissue strains and sprains, rheumatoid arthritis, osteoarthritis, insomnia, muscle pain, seizure disorders, allergies, and more.

Physiologically built similarly to people, dogs naturally enjoy these same health benefits, while providing your furry family member who loves you unconditionally with some TLC and pampering.  What dog does not deserve that?

Please see the chart below for massage regions that facilitate health for various organ systems.  You can do this daily and rotate the spots to facilitate well rounded health for your canine companion.  Best of all, its costs you nothing but a few minutes of your day.

Therapeutic Massage Has Proven Health Benefits For Dogs

What’s more, petting one’s dog causes proven health benefits for people.  Per the Mayo clinic, the act of petting a dog reduces stress and anxiety, hastens recovery rates, and reduces dependence on medication.  So…when you commit to massaging your dog, you are helping your own health as well.  It is a win-win for all parties!

Dr. Roger Welton is a practicing veterinarian and highly regarded media personality through a number of topics and platforms.  In addition to being passionate about integrative veterinary medicine for which he is a nationally renowned expert, Dr. Welton was also an accomplished college lacrosse player and remains to this day very involved in the sport.  He is president of Maybeck Animal Hospital , runs the successful veterinary/animal health  blogs Web-DVM and Dr. Roger’s Holistic Veterinary Care, and fulfills his passion for lacrosse through his lacrosse and sport blog, The Creator’s Game.

 

Natural Ear Infection Prevention In Dogs And Cats

How To Prevent Ear Infections In Dogs And CatsDogs and cats have anatomical ear considerations that differ significantly from the human ear, that facilitate wax build up and secondary infections with great frequency. This difference includes much wider diameter external ear canals, especially taken in consideration of their proportional diameters in comparison to the much smaller overall body mass of dogs and cats. There is also an acute bend in the ear canal as it courses down from its superficial opening, making an almost right angle turn toward the ear drum. This combination makes it easier for allergens and microbes to enter, but more difficult for the body to get them out. Adding in pendulous ears and prevalent skin allergies that many dog breeds are predisposed to (e.g., cocker spaniels), and you have a recipe for a perfect storm of poor ear health.

In approaching the management of ear disease in dogs and cats, it is important to first understand that in most cases, there is no definitive cure for chronic ear disease. Chronically diseased ears are more often than not, a constant work in progress that mandate ongoing maintenance and attention from the pet owner. With that in mind, below are the most important goals in maintaining health ears and preventing ear infections in dogs and cats.

Keep Ears Clear of Wax

Wax builds up in canine and feline ear canals just as it does in people, only usually more abundantly. Knowing that we regularly need to remove wax from our own ears with cotton tipped swabs; we must understand that the same applies to dogs and cats. However, as previously noted, in the case of dogs and cats, wax production is often far worse, as moisture and environmental allergens that come in contact with those big external ear canals, often leads to over-secretion of wax. An overabundance of wax significantly increases the potential for secondary infection.  Thus, selectiing an ear cleanser that breaks up wax well is pivotal in preventing ear infections.  

Cleansers that have small percentages of acetic acid and alcohol acomplish the breakdown and removal of ear wax well.   

Keep Ears Dry

Moisture left within ear canals enables a watery environment that many species of bacteria and yeast thrive in. This is very important in consideration of dogs and cats that are regularly groomed and bathed, as well as dogs that swim. Drying ears thoroughly after bathing and swimming is therefore very important.  I would also advise a “drying” cleanser to follow up after physically drying the ears canals.    

Keep Ears Acidified

Microbes that commonly over grow in ears and lead to ear infections in dogs and cats, proliferate most effectively in an alkaline environment. Thus, creating an acidic pH – the opposite of alkaline – within the ear canal is an effective strategy for inhibiting microbial growth and limiting the tendency for a pet to develop ear infections.  Cleansers with small eprcentages of acetic acid and salicyclic acid often effectively maintain an acidic environment within the ear canals.   

Manage Skin Allergies

If your pet is developing ear infections because of a confirmed skin allergy, controlling the allergy is paramount. Nutritionally, consider natural anti-inflammatory therapy with mega-3-fatty acid supplementation. For 30 percent of skin allergy patients that have a food allergy component to their sensitivities that manifest in the skin, a prescription, hypoallergenic diet can be key in preventing ear infections.

Home cooked diets are also a good choice, as the pet owner has full control of the ingredients.  Select fresh vegetables and a protein source the pet has never been exposed to (venison, rabbit, duck are good choices) and avoid grassy grains, such as wheat, barley, oats, and corn.  Dogs should be fed 50/50 meat to veggies, whereas cats should be fed 80/20 meat/veggies.  A pet multivitamin that does not have any animal bi-product is generally advised with home prepared diets to optimally round out nutrition needs unique to dogs and cats.   

For pets where natural management may fall short, talk to your veterinarian about maintenance on anti-allergy medication, such as antihistamines or Atopica.

Dr. Roger Welton is a practicing veterinarian and highly regarded media personality through a number of topics and platforms.  In addition to being passionate about integrative veterinary medicine for which he is a nationally renowned expert, Dr. Welton was also an accomplished college lacrosse player and remains to this day very involved in the sport.  He is president of Maybeck Animal Hospital , runs the successful veterinary/animal health  blogs Web-DVM and Dr. Roger’s Holistic Veterinary Care, and fulfills his passion for lacrosse through his lacrosse and sport blog, The Creator’s Game.