Knee Arthritis

Knee Arthritis

The two most common causes of pain in cats are ARTHRITIS PAIN and DENTAL PAIN.


Arthritis affects up to 70% of senior cats (as well as dogs), but most people don’t think about that.  Most people don’t believe that their cat is any pain at all.  Cats are so good at hiding their pain that it’s easy to make other excuses for their inactivity: “he’s never been very active”, “she’s always hidden under my bed– that’s where she feels safe since…(the new dog, my daughter moved away, etc)”, “he’s just getting old and slowing down.”  But, a careful observer will notice the tell tale signs that something is really amiss:


  • Sleeping more often/ longer
  • False starts while trying to jump up
  • “Misjudging” a jump
  • Decreased grooming/ poor coat condition
  • Weight loss/ dehydration (can’t get to food/ water)
  • Accidents around/ outside of the litterbox

Arthrtis in cats CAN and should be treated.  After all, we don’t tolerate debilitating pain for ourselves, why would we ignore in our life companion kitty cats?  Newer medications are safe and very helpful in giving cats back their mobility!

We recently gave a cat patient a series of Adequan injections: after the 6th injection, the owner reported that her kitty was jumping up on her lap like he used to years ago!  2 weeks later, she reported that he was now defending her lap from the other cat in the house like the “good old days” of his  youth!  He is also on oral medication that his owner hides in his food. He doesn’t even know that he’s being medicated!  It’s so amazing to see “old” cats find their inner kitten again!

Arthritis in cats is most reliably diagnosed with a combination of physical exam findings and radiographs.  Schedule your kitty’s Arthritis Screen exam as soon as possible, if he shows any of the above signs!  By the time she’s showing you signs like these, it’s already serious.


Recognizing dental pain in cats takes some careful observation, and knowing that what your seeing means something– pain:

  • Grinding Teeth
  • Lip smacking/ licking excessively
  • Decreased grooming/ poor coat
  • Eating less/ becoming finicky
  • Dropping food while eating
  • Tiny crumbies of food left over in the bowl*

* I just figured this one out recently when my own cat developed a bad tooth! Who knew?

Dental disease can be difficult to impossible to identify, even by a veterinarian, without sedation and dental radiographs as cats are prone to developing very painful lesions in their teeth under their gumlines called “”resorptive lesions”.  The place to start is a thorough physical exam by a veterinarian experienced in spotting the subtle signs of resorptive lesions when they  appear at the gumline and who has the ability to perform dental radiographs.

We all know what a painful tooth feels like!

OvOLD DOG WALKERer 70% of dogs develop osteoarthritis in their Golden Years.   This most often affects the knees, hips or spine ,causing lameness and weakness from muscle loss.  Pets may have difficulty standing up or sitting down.  They may be reluctant to jump on furniture or in the car.  They may lie around more and play less.

While most owners are aware that these are common signs of age- or injury- related arthritis, most owners are NOT aware that these same symptoms can be signs of HEART DISEASE,  especially in large breed dogs (the same dogs likely to get hip and knee arthritis)!

Large breed dogs, especially Standard Poodles, Portugese Water Dogs and Others are susceptible to Cardiomyopathy.  When this disease is slowly progressive, organs and muscles are slowly starved of oxygen and blood nutrients. * This causes deterioration and weakness of muscles farther from the heart (the rear limbs).

It is easy to assume that the dog “just has arthritis”.  Veterinarians can even be deceived since the signs of cardiomyopathy can be very subtle.  The heart can sound normal to a stethescope, initially.  However, an EKG may detect arrhythmias (abnormal heart electrical conduction).  A skilled veterinarian can detect femoral pulse weakness– but this is very subjective and based on individual experience, skill and talent.

Radiographs of your dogs’ rear limbs and (especially lower) spine can be taken to determine whether his / her lameness or weakness is due to arthritis.  If she has such severe arthritis that she has trouble standing up or has lost muscle mass, the arthritic changes should be apparent on radiographs.  If there are no arthritis changes, ask your veterinarian for a Cardiac Work Up.

Treating underlying heart disease will not only help your pet feel better and be more active, it will help him live longer!

Demand Arthritis Screening Radiographs to be sure your dog has arthritis, rather than another condition, before committing your dog to years of arthritis/ pain medication that won’t help your pet feel better (and will make your wallet ache with the  waste of dollars).

More about Heart Disease in Dogs ( and cats!)

Colorado RiverToad‘Tis the season for the toxic Colorado River Toads to come out of hibernation– with the arrival of our desert monsoons. 


Dogs can be poisoned by licking Colorado River Toads.


Signs of Poisoning include:

  • Foaming at the mouth/ Hypersalivation
  • Pawing at the mouth/ face
  • Vomiting
  • Collapse
  • Seizures

First Aid at Home includes:

  1. Lie your dog on his/ her side and run a stream of water from a hose or kitchen sprayer through your dog’s mouth from side to side. Wiping the gums and teeth with a paper towel or cloth will help to remove the mucus while you are flushing.  Try to keep your dog from swallowing as much of the water as possible.
  2. Call your vet or the nearest Veterinary Emergency Service.  They will give you further advice.

If possible, relocate the toad, without touching it to someplace far, far away!



What goes Squish in the night? It may be a hairball, but it’s probably a sign of something more serious!

Cats will vomit whatever happens to be in their stomachs when they are nauseated.  If that happens to be hair, they will vomit a hairball.  But that is not necessarily the primary reason for the nausea!

Does your cat vomit whole food or right after eating?

This sound like “Scarf ‘n’ Barf”– eating too much too fast!  If limiting your cat’s meals to 1/4 cup of food and feeding in a BrakeFast Bowl doesn’t solve the problem, there is probably a medical problem.

Do you notice your cat grooming excessively, missing or broken hairs?cat alopecia rump

Cats will lick themselves excessively due to itchiness from allergies, fungal infections or parasites such as mites or fleas. Ingestion of hair, when it is excessive cn cause enough irritation to the stomach to cause vomiting.

Your cat may have  Delayed Gastric Emptying.  

A delay in the emptying time of the stomach allows the hair to sit in the stomach long enough to cause irritation.  This could also be a clue to constipation issues.

Food Hypersensitivites and Inflammatory Bowl Disease are common causes of vomiting in Cats

Often vomiting is the only symptom in cats with food hypersensitivities and IBD.  Your veterinarian can prescribe an Anallerenic or Hydrolyzed Protein Diet trial to check for these problems.

There are many common, TREATABLE metabolic conditions that cause vomiting in cats:

Pancreatitis, diabetes, thyroid disease, kidney and liver conditions can all cause vomiting of fluid, food, hair, or whatever may happen to be in the stomach at the time nausea strikes.

Does your cat frequent the litterbox, vomit after being in the litterbox or straining to eliminate in appropriate locations?

Bladder pain (infection, bladder stones, inflammation) and constipation can both make cats vomit because of the severe discomfort.

It’s improtant to remember that Cats are masters of hiding their illnesses!

Being unique among species as both a prey and predator, it is very important that they show no weakness.  So ANY time a cat shows you any sign of illness, including vomiting—even “just hairballs”, it’s important to have it checked it out!  chances are, there is something that your veterinarian can recommend to minimize finding those squishy surprises in the middle of the night!

Tips For Getting Your Tiny Tiger to theVet

Pancreatitis is an inflammation of the Pancreas.  Pancreatitis can be mild and intermittent (the cat who vomits “hairballs”, food or fluid sometimes), to mild and chronic (the cat who vomits hairballs, food or fluid routinely) to Severe and Life Threatening (persistent vomiting, lack of appetite, inactivity) .  In a recent study, 80% of older cats who died of causes unrelated to their pancreas had some degree of pancreatic inflammation– it’s THAT Common!

The primary jobs of the pancreas are 1) to secrete insulin into the bloodstream to regulate glucose metabolism and 2) to secrete digestive enzymes into the digestive tract.  The pancreas in the cat is intimately associated, physically,  with the liver, gall bladder, and small intestine.  Consequently, if any of those organs becomes inflamed, the pancreas can, and often does, become secondarily involved. Add to that the fact that many cats develop all kinds of inflammatory conditions for reasons that we veterinarians mostly don’t understand (likely owing to the cat’s very unique nervous system– it’s hard to be both a predator and prey species!).  So, there are lots of opportunities for the pancreas to become inflamed!

What happens when the Pancreas becomes inflamed?

1)  Insulin secreting cells become over run by inflammatory cells that secrete damaging enzymes, killing the Insulin secretors.  Less insulin means a cat can become diabetic.  This diabetic condition may be transient– persisting only as long as the pancreas is inflammed- if only a few of the insulin cells get killed off.  Or diabetes can become permanent  if too many cells were killed off and can’t regenerate due to ongoing inflammation.

2)  The digestive enzyme secreting cells get damaged by the inflammatory enzymes.  Their cell walls become leaky, releasing  digestive enzymes into the surrounding tissues, destroying (digesting) the cat’s own tissues!  This is part of the process of “Acute, necrotizing pancreatitis”.  This is the life threatening form.

Since the process is on going, waxing and waning, there can be any degree of either of those processes going on at any one time.

Signs of chronic pancreatitis:

  • Intermittent Vomiting (of anything)
  • Occasional diarrhea
  • Weight loss related to intermittent poor (“finicky?”) appetite
  • Abdomenal pain- which may look like intermittent crankiness, vocalization when picked up, or hiding more
  • Signs of Diabetes: increase drinking and urinating, ravenous appetite, sometimes with weight loss
  • Freqent vomiting, depression and complete lack of eating and drinking

Diagnosis can be tricky

The best test for pancreatitis in cats called a Feline Pancreatic Lipase test.  It’s run on a blood sample.  There is a screening test that your veterinarian can run in house.  A more detailed test can be run at the lab.  That’s the easy part.  The tricky part is that any inflammatory condition related to the small intestines, liver, gall bladder OR pancreas can cause the pancreas to excrete excessive amounts of Pancreatic Lipase.  So, yes, the test may tell you that the pancreas is upset, it doesn’t tell you that the pancreas is the primary problem.  Your veterinarian will have to put all of your cat’s symptoms and history together to determine the best way to manage your cat’s level of pancreatitis– and any other coexisting conditions!

Treatment for Mild, Chronic Pancreatits is still being perfected

Reducing inflammation, long term is the objective.

Special Diet:  Some cats respond well to a High Protein, low carbohydrate diet– this is the most natural for cats, anyway

                            Some cats respond better to a hypoallergenic diet – maybe there is an allergic component to their inflammation?

Antioxidants:  Nutritional supplements that reduce the oxidative aspect of the ongoing inflammatory process may be helpful:

                             High potency Omega 3 EPA,  Sam-e, silymarin, Vitamin C, Vitamin E, Cobalamin

                           Which products your veterinarian recommends for your kitty depend on safety (Vitamin E can be toxic) , cost (the most effective brands are more expensive in Sam-E and silymarin), practicality (some are by injection), and simply what the cat will tolerate!

                     Intermediate Pancreatitis- when diet/ supplements aren’t enough

                      Anti-inflammatory medications may be indicated.  Prednisolone is the most commonly used anti-inflammatory for cats.  However, it is not the best choice for diabetics because steroids cause insulin resistance.  This is not good in a patient that is already borderline diabetic or may be diabetic, receiving insulin therapy.  Fortunately, there is another anti-inflammatory, Atopica, specifically formulated for cats, that has been showing great promise in pancreatitis kitties!  (Ask your vet about this, if they haven’t mentioned it yet!  Not all vets are used to using this medication for this condition!)

Treatment for Severe Pancreatitis needs to be in the Hospital 

Intravenous fluids, anti-inflammatories and pain medications are important to start the recovery process.  Vomiting often needs to be treated with injectable medciations.  Cats often need feeding tubes placed via a short surgical procedure to ensure theyget enough calories to heal when they are not feeling like eating on their own.  Medications are given either by injection or feeding tube to help stimulate the return of normal eating as quickly as possible.

 For more information, see:


dog scratchingTreating pets with allergies can be a frustrating, time-consuming, financially draining prospect. There is no one treatment; there is no cure. Our goal in treating allergies is to keep patients comfortable using the most affordable, minimally time consuming treatment that will be the most effective in keeping itching to a tolerable level for both the patient and their people with a minimum of side effects to the patient.  This usually involves employing several strategies at once to attack the allergies from different angles.  Here are some suggestions for things you can do at home and treatments to ask your vet about.

Stay Inside
Staying inside will help those pets that are allergic to outside pollens.

• Vacuum and Dust Weekly
This reduces house dust and the house dust mites that invade all of our homes.

Buy Smaller Bags of Food/ Store in Airtight containers
Many dogs are allergic to storage mites found in grain products. Buying smaller bags of food will reduce the numbers of storage mites that can reproduce in your pet’s food (which your pet inhales while eating). Your veterinarian may even recommend a strictly canned diet.

Shampoo/ Rinses/ Wipes- Prescription Strength, for your pet’s skin condition
Shampooing, cool water rinsing, wiping of the face and paws physically removes dust, dust mites and pollens from your pet’s coat, reducing the amount of allergens inhaled.
Some Shampoos also help reduce the numbers of bacteria and yeast that build-up on inflamed, allergic skin. Your veterinarian will help you choose the best shampoo and conditioner for your pet’s current skin conditions. As your pet’s skin conditions change, so might your vet’s shampoo recommendations.
Conditioning rinses can provide prolonged anti-inflammatory relief and anti-itch effects.

Wiping your pet’s face once daily, at night, before bed, can also help reduce inhaled pollens and dust.

Having your pet walk through a foot bath, then drying his feet, especially between the pads, can be beneficial as well. Your vet may recommend a special foot bath for this purpose.

Anallergenic Food TrialRoyal Canin Anallergenic Formula

Truly Anallergenic foods contain nothing that the body can recognize as a foreign material. The proteins have been formulated to be so small that they are unrecognizable as foreign material, so the body can not react in an allergic manner to them, yet they are nutritious for the pet.
Only your veterinarian can prescribe truly “Anallergenic” food for your pet. This may be very beneficial if there is suspicion that your pet is allergic to some component in his food (chicken, beef, wheat, soy, other proteins,  preservatives, etc). Pets going on an Anallergenic Food Trial must remain on that food, and ONLY that food,  for 3 months (nothing else can pass their lips unless specifically approved by your veterinarian—any little “cheat” defeats 3 weeks of prescription food benefits).  If the allergies are improved, your vet may recommend switching to a “Hypoallergenic or Limited Ingredient Diet”. Pets with severe food allergies may need to stay on Anallergenic food long term to keep their skin comfortable!

Skin Barrier Treatments Allerderm Spot-On, Phytosphingosine- containing treatments

It has recently been discovered that animals, like many people, are genetically predisposed to allergies because of less than ideal skin barrier functions. Topical fatty acid and ceramide treatments are now being used to re-establish a more normal protective lipid layer on the skin. This, in turn , reduces the skin’s sensitivity to allergens in the environment and to histamines released in the body during allergy attacks.

Omega 3 fatty acidsFree Form Snip Tips,  Eicosaderm
Omega 3 fatty acids have been shown to have an anti-inflammatory effect in skin and other tissues throughout the
body when given daily, in high doses, for 30 days and more. Allergic pets can benefit greatly from the anti-
inflammatory effects of high potency omega 3 fatty acids given every day of their lives. (They will also be receiving beneficial effects to their joints, liver and heart!).
Not all Fatty Acid (or “fish oil”) supplements are created equal. Every product has a different amount of various
omega fatty acids in it, some of which are NOT anti-inflammatory (omega6s). Your veterinarian’s products are
chosen specifically to be high potency, in the correct balance, in a cost efficient form for pets. Do not give human
products without consulting your veterinarian as you may be spending a lot of money and still not giving a high enough dose, or giving too many PRO –inflammatory fatty acids, defeating the whole allergy treatment purpose.

There are several classes of antihistamines available for use in dogs. Just as one antihistamine may work well in one human and not in another, dogs have individual responses to antihistamines as well. Dogs also require different doses of antihistamines than humans to control itchy skin conditions. They need to be treated at these doses for a minimum of 5 days, in most cases, to evaluate the effect of the antihistamine as it takes that long to get an effective blood level of antihistamine in a dog. Giving antihistamines periodically, intermittently  or at inappropriate doses is rarely helpful.

Your veterinarian can suggest antihistamines and doses to try. Please consult your vet before changing medications or dosages to ensure that you are treating appropriately.


Steroids are usually very effective as controlling itch in all but the most severely atopic patients. They are less
effective in food allergic pets. Short courses of steroids, either by injection or oral treatment, may be necessary to prevent a pet from injuring itself due to excessive licking and scratching.  However, steroids have life draining side effects and should not be given long term unless no other alternative is possible.

Atopica is an alternative to steroids that is used to suppress the overactive immune system pf the allergic pet It has fewer side effects than steroids. This medication can be given long term, sometimes every other day or only a couple times a week. This is a good treatment option when the above treatments aren’t working well enough to keep a pet comfortable.

Apoquel is a revolutionary new treatment for allergies in pets, just released in January 2014. (Temporarily on limited supply due to veterinarian’s enthusiasm and buying all of the initial manufactured stock !)  It inhibits a newly discovered enzyme system (JAK) at the cellular level that is required to cause allergic reactions. It is reported to be very successful in clinical trials. There are minimal long term side effects, compared to steroids and is going to be less expensive than Atopica, with a less dramatic impact on the immune system!

“Allergy Injections” can be formulated specifically for your pet, based on exactly what he or she is allergic to, according to blood or skin testing. Your veterinarian can perform the blood testing. A Board Certified Dermatologist needs to perform skin testing in order to formulate allergy injections that way.  These injections can be very helpful for patients who must have daily oral medication to live comfortably or who are not comfortable even with daily medication and special foods. In some cases, when daily treatments are still needed, pets often get along comfortably with fewer medications or only dietary control, avoiding the cost and detrimental effects of long term more expensive medications.

If you are frustrated with your pet’s response to treatment, if your pet is not comfortable despite following your veterinarian’s recommendations, or if you are just “done” with all of the special care, please ask us about Immunotherapy. It may be time!

 Contact your vet if your pet is excessively itchy/ scratching/ biting / shaking or itching ears– he may have allergies (or infection!).  Take this blog with you so you can ask your vet what treatment options would be best for your pet!

Sentinel   heartgard   AdvantixII   Seresto collar

With all the parasite preventives available both over the counter and through your veterinarian, it’s nearly impossible to pick the right one!  Here is a chart of tthe most common parasite preventives that are sold through veterinarians.  They have the best research behind them and the best customer service if your pet has a reaction!  (Some are available over the counter, too, but your vet probably offers a waaay better $deal through their own office!)

First, Decide what parasites you want to protect against.  For our desert pets, we recommend Heartworm protection for every dog (it’s not common, but it’s here and it’s a devastating disease that is expensive and dangerous to treat– just avoid it!).  If your pet frequents public dog parks or other group dog environments, protect against the intestinal parasites: RW, HKW.  If your pet hunts mammals in the desert or has fleas, pick a TW and FLEA preventive.  If you have seen fleas or ticks, pick a preventive for those.  If you have mosquitoes around your house, travel to places where there are mosquitoes, protecting your pet against these annoying pests also provides one more layer of protection against heartworm disease!

Then, pick your preferred method of administration, if there are choices!

Request the medication from your veterinarian!

HW = HeartWorm, RW= RoundWorm, HKW= HookWorm, TW= TapeWorm, FLEA, TICK, EAR M= Ear Mites, MOSQ= Mosquitoes


Sentinel Spectrum

Soft Chews


Chew Tabs


Heartgard Plus



Spot On

Vectra 3D for Dogs

Spot On

K9 Advantix II

Spot On

Frontline Plus

Spot On


8 mo collar


Chew Tab

Cheristin for Cats

Spot On


Immediate Kill Pill

heartworms in heart


During the Month of April, Cimarron is Offering:

Heartworm Prevention at $25 off/ 1 year supply!

Heartworm Tests only $35.00!  (Nearly 50% discount !)  

Why do we want to do this?  Because there has been a recent increase in the number of Heartworm Cases on Tucson’s Eastside.  Because HW dz is life threatening.  It is very expensive to treat: $1200 for an uncomplicated case!   Treating the disease can be fatal!  To protect a pet against fatal side effects of treatment, a family has to be  tremendously inconvenienced to maintain exercise restriction and saddened by the hardships of confinement for the pet and lack of fun they could be having with their pet.  All around, it is a devastating disease for both the pet and the family on both a physical and a pshychological level!  Prevention of Heartworm disease is easy, pet’s LIKE the medication (usu), and for most pets, a Lifetime of tests and preventive won’t cost $1200!  And, mostly because we want our patients to stay healthy and their People to stay Happy with their healthy, active pets!  

More on Heartworm Disease  from Pet Health Network

If your pet is overweight, he has a significantly increased risk of Diabetes.

Overweight, middle-aged orange male tabby cats have a 30% increased risk of developing diabetes than any other cat!

Signs to watch for:

  •    Increased water drinking
  •    Water- seeking behavior: drinking out of showers/sinks/ tubs/ glasses around the house (more than they used to…)
  •    Increased urination:  asking to go outside more often/ in the night; accidents in the house; litterbox is wetter (more than 2-4 urinations in a day is a red flag)
  •    Increased/ “ravenous” appetite
  •    Decreased appetite/ vomiting/ lethargy
  •   Sudden development of Cataracts and blindness in dogs

A simple blood test can answer the question.  Blood glucose testing is an easy test that can check evidence of high blood sugar at the moment.  If the blood glucose test is elevated, a Fructosamine test is usually done to assess whether a pet’s blood glucose has been consistently elevated over the last 3 weeks.

Diabetes is managed with diet (usually a prescription low carb, high protein diet– caution in older pets with underlying kidney disease…) and insulin.

** ! Treating pets with insulin is different from treating humans-– please don’t try this at home!  Your veterinarian is an expert at the nuances of how animals (and cats are much different from dogs!) respond to the the different types of insulin available.

** ! Human blood glucose monitors are often INaccurate in testing animal blood.  Before using a human glucometer, have it compared with an animal calibrated glucometer! (Even on animal glucometers, there are different codes entered for different species because they all read a little differently).  (Honest!  Independent studies have been done!  This is not just a gimmick to get people to buy more expensive animal glucometers!)

** ! Different types of insulin work better in different species.  Some insulins are off and on the market, making it difficult to maintain consistency in treatment.  Your veterinarian has the most current information and will help you make the best choice for your pet.

Untreated, Diabetes saps the life out of a pet, reducing quality of life.  Years of happy life are sacrificed.  Treated, pets can now live full, happy , long lives!  Newer diets and insulins make it easier and more rewarding than ever to keep a pet’s diabetes well managed!

Ooohh Nooo, it’s Otitis Externa! again…

Nearly every dog gets at least one in their lifetime!  Ear infections are one of the top 3 most common pet health insurance claim reasons! They’re crazy! They’re everywhere!

Sometimes they are frustrating!  They can be hard to beat! They often recur. They are PAINFUL!


Outer ear infections in dogs are most often caused by :

  • Bacteria (various kinds, many of which are antibiotic resistant)
  • Yeast.
  • Both

There is almost ALWAYS an Underlying Cause that needs to be treated in order to cure the infection and prevernt recurrence.

ALLERGIES to food products–  Be on the alert for:
    • no other symptoms of allergy such as itchy skin/ persistent licking
    • Maybe Bottom scooting
    • Maybe Periodic loose stools, diarrhea or vomiting
ALLERGIES  to environmental factors ( pollens, dust mites, molds, etc), especially if:
    • Licking, scratching other parts of the body, too
Anything that plugs the ear canal such as
    • Wax accumulations
    • Thick or matted hair in the ear canal
    • Foreign bodies such as a grass awns or insects (ticks love ear canals!)
    • Tumor or polyps
Water in the ear– from swimming or bathing
Hormone problems suppressing the natural immune system
  • Shaking of the head
  • Ear scratching
  • Red and inflamed ears
  • Offensive ear odor
  • Black, Brown, reddish or yellowish discharge (fi you think it’s “dirt”, it’s probably not– see a vet!)
  • Constant tilting head may signal middle ear infection

Because a number of problems can cause an ear infection, it is important that your dog or cat see the veterinarian at the first sign of symptoms. The veterinarian will also make sure the eardrum is intact before prescribing medication because some medications have been known to result in hearing loss if administered to a pet with a ruptured eardrum.  Your veterinarian will prescribe proper medication and treatment.

Examining the ear–Your veterinarian will use an otoscope to look inside your pet’s ear for debris and to check on the condition of the eardrum. If this is painful, your pet may need to be sedated or anesthetized for the exam. If the ear examination reveals a foreign body, tick or heavy debris buildup, sedation may also be required in order for the veterinarian to remove the irritant.

Cytology— Your veterinarian will take a sample of the material in the ear canal and examine it under a microscope (cytology) to determine if an organism caused the infection, and which organisms are involved. This is a critical step of diagnosis and follow up!   Different organisms require different medications and the type of organism involved can change over time, even during treatment!

Cleaning-  Your veterinarian may need to clean your pet’s ear of debris prior to treatment in order for treatment to be most effective.  Some medications are inactivated in the presence of pus. Medication can not treat an infection if there is so much debris in the canal that the medication cannot reach the skin. Cleaning can sometimes be done in the exam room.   But anesthesia is often needed if your pet’s ear is too painful or there is an excessive amount of debris. Ears are suuuper sensitive– there is only 1 nerve between the ear and the brain! Making the investment in cleaning, even if it means anesthesia, early in the treatment process will help cure the infection faster and reduce the number of rechecks needed.

Medication treatment–Medication treatment is typically prescribed for one to two weeks. This can be painful for your pet, so be gentle.  Your veterianrian may be able to instill long-acting medication in your pet’s ears initially to minimize uncomfortable treatments at home. Depending on your pet’s condition, you may have to do daily cleaning at home.  Your veterinary team will show you how.

Prompt diagnosis and proper treatment will speed your pet’s recovery. .Be prepared for recheck examinations with your veterinarian.  Only your vet, using an otoscope, can  ensure that the infection is cleared up all the way to the ear drum.  Ear infections can be frustrating and take some time to treat due to the number of factors that complicate recovery:

  •   The cause of infection can change during the course of treatment-–  from a bacterial to a yeast infection, for instance
  • Resistance to typically used medications.
  • Not cleaning the ear enough so that medication can reach the infection
  • Not treating the ears deeply enough
  • Not treating long enough to clear the whole infection
  • Underlying problems such as allergies or thyroid disease.



Important warning–

The longer an ear infection goes untreated, the harder it is to get rid of. Your pet will be in pain until you start treatment. Heavy head shaking, a sign of infection, can result in broken blood vessels in the ear flap  (this is commonly called an aural hematoma) that requires surgery. Frequent ear infections can damage the eardrum and close the ear canal, in which case surgical reconstruction may be necessary.

Recurrence of infection may happen for a number of reasons.  Sometimes the infection is persisting rather than recurring because it was not cured the first time.  This happens most often when patients are not rechecked with the veterinarian. An infection may look cleared at the ear opening, but still be brewing deep in the canal, near the ear drum.

Recurrences should always be treated and the underlying cause treated.  Dogs should not “always” have ear problems. They are painful and often a sign of a bigger problem!

  • Prevent water from getting in your dog’s ear during baths– put a cotton ball in ear opening to catch any accidental water that may get in.
  • If your dog is a frequent swimmer, ask your veterinarian for a drying ear wash to use nightly during swimming season.
  • Use any ear flush prescribed for your veterinarian on a regular schedule.
  • Treat the underlying causes!

Q. What is the best way to keep my dog’s ears dry?
A. Cotton balls are an excellent way to dry your dog’s ears if he is regularly exposed to water. Always be gentle and careful not to force build-up down into the ear, which can contribute to an ear infection.
Q. How soon should I take my pet to the veterinarian’s office if I think it has an ear infection?
A. Call and make an appointment immediately. Your pet is in pain. Your vet needs to determine the source of the problem and prescribe a course of treatment as soon as possible.