'Ear Ye, 'Ear Ye!

Now that I’ve covered itchy, flaky skin, I thought I’d touch on the subject of ear infections. Ear problems seem to run rampant with dogs in my dog park. Surefire indicators of an ear infection are constant shaking of the head, incessant scratching of the ears, a stinky smell emanating from the ears, and worse, a nasty, slimy discharge. If your dog is exhibiting any of these symptoms, chances are he or she has an ear infection – and chances are it’s a yeast infection. My first recommendation is to trot off to the vet as soon as possible. Your vet will likely prescribe a short term cure, which is something you want sooner rather than later. Once the infection is under control, it’s time to think of maintenance.

It bears repeating (again and again and again, if you read my blogs) that the key to a healthy pet is a healthy diet. A healthy diet breeds a strong immune system, and a strong immune system is essential to the fight against bacteria and disease. It follows that a strong immune system is what’s likely to keep that nasty ear infection at bay, too. I know, I know, you buy “the best” food… Eukanuba or Science Diet, you say. Well, if you are feeding these foods, you may want to read and then interpret the ingredients, and then do a bit of research to learn what constitutes a truly healthy diet.

As always, I advocate healthy, home-prepared organic meals. That said, most folks simply don’t have the time or the inclination to get into the kitchen and rattle those pots and pans. If you love whipping stuff up in the kitchen, here are a few recipes to get you started. If you just don't have the time or energy, there are dozens of fantastic commercial foods on the market, many of which I suggest here. I often tout the virtues of raw diets. This is because dogs and cats tend to do extremely well on them. I used to have “issues” with feeding raw, but I soon realized that the issues were my own. “Eww,” to play around with raw meat! The truth is that keeping your pet healthy is about your pet, not you. If you still have concerns about feeding raw, there are several stores that carry a huge array of the wholesome foods I mentioned. Sunset Pet Supply in San Francisco and Wags & Whiskers in Walnut Creek are two of my favorites. If you feel that you just can’t afford to purchase a better but more expensive food, ask yourself how much you’ve been spending on visits to the vet. Switching to a healthy diet will save you on vet visits – trust me on that one!!

Along with switching to a healthy diet, I recommend beginning a regimen of regular ear cleaning. I love Opie & Dixie’s Organic Ear Wash because it doesn’t contain the witch hazel that so many ear washes have. Many dogs are sensitive to witch hazel, which is why we’ve chosen to use organic peppermint, organic spearmint, organic lemon eucalyptus, organic tea tree, organic rosemary and simple spring water in our non-medicated formula.

If you’d like to zap your pet’s ear problems once and for all, try my suggestions. What have you got to lose?