Pets as Christmas Presents

Sometimes it may seem like a cute idea to give someone a pet as a Christmas present, but it’s important to give that some extra thought before you do it. Most pets that are given up lose their home because their owner loses interest in them or is unprepared for the responsibility of pet ownership. This is a huge problem seen among pet owners who receive their pets as “gifts.” Children especially are given the mistaken idea that pets are all fun and games, but they are not fully ready to take on the responsibility of feeding, walking, cleaning, and training their pet.
Instead of giving pets as presents, we recommend getting acclimated to the idea of bringing a new pet into your home. Bringing your children to volunteer at an animal shelter or babysitting the pet of a friend or family member can help. Children and potential pet owners (no matter their age!) need to be reminded that pets aren’t just cute; they are also hungry, need to exercise, and need to use the bathroom. They can be messy when they aren’t fully trained, and the training process can be difficult too.

Please, don’t adopt until everyone in your family is READY. 

What is a hotspot?

Question

My dog was recently diagnosed with a “hotspot.” Can you tell me more about this skin condition?

Answer

“Hotspot” is a general term used to describe the angry reaction that your pet’s skin is displaying. It may also be referred to as “acute moist dermatitis.”
Hotspots have many causes, but are usually the result of self trauma and subsequent infection that occurs as your pet tries to relieve himself from a pain or itch. An underlying allergy is most often the cause of the pain or itch. Some breeds are more prone to seasonal allergies, so you may see hotspots at the same time each year.
There are three types of allergies that may lead to hotspots:

  • Inhaled allergy (pollens, dust, molds)
  • Insect allergy (fleas, bee sting, spider bite)
  • Ingested allergy (food)

Please discuss treatment options, which may include thorough cleaning, antibiotics and anti-inflammatory agents, with your veterinarian.
For more information, see Library Articles Skin Problems in Pets, Allergiesand Spring Allergies.

Originally published on Healthy Pet.

Time to Clean Your Pet’s Ears?

Veterinarians see a lot of patients with ear infections. In fact, it’s the second most common reason for a client visit, according to pet health insurer, VPI Pet Insurance. With ear problems prompting so many trips to the vet, should ear cleaning be a necessary part of grooming your pet?
Generally, cleaning a dog’s ears on a routine basis is not necessary, according to Leonard Jonas, DVM, MS, DACVIM, a veterinarian with Wheat Ridge Animal Hospital in Wheat Ridge, Colo. That’s because animals have a naturally occurring self-cleansing process.
“I’ve had pets my whole life,” Jonas said. “I don’t remember ever routinely cleaning out their ears.”
However, that doesn’t mean pet owners should never take notice of their dog’s ears. Certain breeds, lifestyles and physical characteristics will make a dog more prone to what Jonas calls “abnormal situations,” in which the pet’s normal homeostasis is disrupted. This is when something, either systemically or locally in the ear, interferes with the normal surface barrier defense system and the normal cleaning process that keeps bacteria and yeast under control.
There are signs to watch for if your pet is having an issue with its ears. These, according to Jonas, include:
  • Shaking its head
  • Flapping its ears
  • Rubbing at its ears, either with a paw or by rubbing against furniture or carpet
  • Self-massaging the ear to ease itch, pain or irritation
  • Debris and/or redness inside the ear
  • Sores inside the ear
  • Odor in the ear due to abnormal oils and bacteria
“If you [the pet owner] look in the ear, you can see sometimes a lot of debris,” said Jonas, explaining what an ear with an infection or problem may look like. “Then [you] see redness on the ear flaps (inside) or sores developing. And then there’s also odor that occurs when you have an abnormal ear.”
Breeds to watch
There are certain breeds of dogs—such as Shar Peis, bulldogs and poodles—that have narrow ear canals and have a higher chance of incurring ear issues. Poodles, especially, have more hair in the canals, Jonas explained. “The hair itself is not a problem, but if they’ve got something abnormal with their whole defense system, all that extra hair in there makes it difficult.”
Cocker spaniels are notorious for ear problems, Jonas added.
When to clean your pet’s ears
According to Jonas, it’s best to consult your veterinarian before going forward with an ear-cleaning regimen. Unlike cleaning the teeth, cleaning the ears does not need be done regularly. If a pet owner suspects that something may be wrong with the ear, it’s advised to visit the veterinarian and establish whether the dog’s ear needs to be cleaned by the owner either routinely or for an instructed period of time.
Cleaning the dog’s ears without first seeing a veterinarian is not a good idea, Jonas said, “because you don’t know what’s going on inside. You don’t know if there has been a ruptured ear drum; you don’t know if there’s a stick or a stone or something stuck down inside the ear that needs to be fished out by a veterinarian.”
A veterinarian can diagnose the problem and make the proper recommendations, which may be cleaning and/or medication.
Typically, there are two situations for which a dog’s ears would need to be cleaned regularly. The first is when a veterinarian instructs for it to be done, and the second is when the dog is frequently in water. “Water in their ears disrupts the normal defense barrier system in that ear, and can make them prone to getting infections and irritation and inflammation,” Jonas said.
If there needs to be ear cleaning
A veterinarian should show the owner how to properly clean the dog’s ears because “there are a lot of different techniques, and it depends on what the problem is,” Jonas advised.
There are a couple of precautions to always remember, according to Jonas. First, never use a Q-tip, because it tends to push the wax and debris further into the ear. Second, be sure a groomer does not pluck the hair out of the dog’s ears, unless that hair is contributing to an ear problem; Jonas believes that doing so may cause irritation.
One thing pet owners should also consider is that if the dog has an ear infection, it could be very painful for them. Forcing the dog to get its ears cleaned or putting medication in them can be a dangerous situation for the owner and the dog.
“If your pet doesn’t want you to do it, don’t, because it hurts,” Jonas said. “You’re just going to create a problem, and you need to look to alternatives.”

Originally published by Healthy Pet.

MEET THE STAFF: Dr. Joanna Manz

Dr. Manz has worked at Valley Animal Hospital since 1995. She grew up near Philadelphia, PA and obtained a BS from the Pennsylvania State University in 1979. Dr. Manz also earned a PhD from the University of Washington in 1990. She is a 1992 graduate of the University of Pennsylvania school of Veterinary Medicine where she also completed an internship in Medicine and Surgery in 1993. Dr. Manz has two dogs, Genevieve (Genny) a black lab, and Bingo a dachshund as well as a leopard gecko named Yoda. She enjoys Pilates, hiking, gardening and hummingbirds. She is also busy volunteering for Akron Children’s hospital and for various activities at her children’s schools.