How Often Should You Brush Your Dog’s Teeth?

This question probably depends more on who you ask, but keep in mind that the more often you brush your dog’s teeth, the healthier his mouth will be. Think of how often you brush your own teeth, and how yucky your mouth feels when you don’t do it often enough.

The inside of a dog’s mouth really isn’t that different from yours, and it’s susceptible to all the same health problems… bad breath, gingivitis, periodontal disease, cancers of the mouth, ulcers, and more. And if a dog’s mouth is unhealthy, it can affect the rest of his body, leading to things like liver disease, kidney disease, and heart disease.

A Few Fun Facts About Doggy Dental Health

Your dog has 42 teeth. Count ‘em, yes, 42! And it doesn’t matter their size, they still have the same number of pearly whites. Which means smaller breeds and pooches with small snouts suffer from ‘tooth crowding’. Consider tooth crowding a breeding ground for potential bacteria. Bacteria creates disease.

Unfortunately, dogs that have poor dental hygiene are at high risk for gum disease. Gum disease occurs when bacteria-laden plaque proliferates, mixing with food and saliva to create tartar on your dog’s teeth. When that tartar is left there, it builds up and houses even more bacteria, creating a nasty cycle of bacterial growth and unhealthy mouth conditions for your fur baby.

Finally, if you think your dog could never suffer from things like gum disease, think again. About 80% of all dogs suffer from some form of gum disease, whether it’s mild or severe. Typically signs of poor oral health begin to rear their stinky head around age three and up. Don’t worry though, there is plenty you can do to help keep your fur baby’s teeth healthy. Regular brushing happens to be one of them.

So How Often Should You Be Brushing Your Dog’s Teeth Anyway?

Ideally you should strive to brush your dog’s teeth daily. Not only is daily brushing good for your fur kid and the health of his teeth, but daily brushing helps establish a routine that he will become used to. When a dog gets used to a routine, it makes things much easier for everyone and much less stressful.

If you don’t make it a routine and only brush your fur kid’s teeth sporadically, life becomes much harder for you both. You may find yourself fighting your dog because he is weirded out by the whole experience, and that makes it difficult to do a thorough job.

If absolutely necessary, you could brush every 2 or 3 days. It’s still frequently enough that a routine can be established with your pet, and it can become an experience they submit to willingly. However, I would still recommend daily if it’s within your power to do so, simply because daily is brushing is good for anyone, including your pooch.

Tips to Make Brushing Your Fur Kid’s Teeth Enjoyable… For Both of You

Track down a yummy peanut butter or chicken-flavored toothpaste made especially for dogs. Your furry friend will begin to think of brushing time like ‘treat time’ because it tastes so good.

You can use the toothpaste on your finger at first to help ease him into the experience.

Try to brush at a time when your dog is already relaxed. Right after a lazy nap could be ideal, or perhaps after vigorous exercise when your dog is about to conk out to recharge.

Train your fur baby to accept your touch to his mouth. Again, this falls back on making it routine, but it takes practice. Flip his lips, run a finger along his gums, try wetting a warm wash cloth to rub along his teeth to get him used to the feeling.

Talk to your pooch. Use a calm, soothing voice, and try not to get frustrated if he resists. Offer a tasty, healthy treat when he submits.

Regular and frequent brushing will keep your fur kid’s mouth clean, healthy, and sparkling. Bonus points if you can coax a doggy smile from him!



What Are the Signs of Periodontal Disease in Dogs?

It might surprise you to learn, but just like you, your dog can suffer from periodontal disease. Canine periodontitis is a bacterial infection raging rampant inside your dog’s mouth. It is an insidious disease that is largely silent (especially at onset) but extremely destructive if left unchecked.

Unfortunately, due to the nature of the disease, many fur parents may not even notice the signs and symptoms at first. When you do begin to notice something is amiss, most often it is in an advanced stage with significant damage already present.

Once it reaches an advanced stage, periodontal disease in dogs can be chronically painful. It can erode your fur kid’s gums, contribute to missing and broken teeth, and cause significant bone loss.

Dog periodontal disease progresses through four stages, beginning with plaque build-up and mild inflammation. From there it turns into gum disease (or gingivitis), and as time goes on can progress into mild periodontal disease.

If the disease isn’t treated right away, mild can evolve into severe periodontal disease, which is when you will begin to notice your dog losing teeth and experiencing bone loss.

According to some sources, your fur baby’s risk factors for periodontal disease increase by 20% for every year that passes. Four out of five dogs will show evidence of gum disease at age three and beyond.

What Is Gum (Periodontal) Disease?

Gum disease is a bacterial infection that leads to severe decay. It must be treated right away, or your dog will be at risk for many other health issues. When a dog suffers from periodontal disease, the supporting structures of his teeth become weak and eroded from a build-up of plaque and tarter. The disease eventually results in bone loss and tooth loss, along with many other nasty and uncomfortable symptoms and related health problems.

Your furry friend’s risk for kidney, liver, and heart disease increases exponentially if he suffers from periodontal disease. Heart disease is especially a big concern, as it has been shown to be linked to periodontal disease in dogs. This is because bacteria in your dog’s mouth will enter your canine’s blood stream and attach itself to the arteries surrounding the heart, creating build-up and interfering with healthy heart function.

The sad thing is that dog dental disease is quite preventable with proper care and a fastidious oral hygiene routine. However, many fur parents are not consistent in caring for their dog’s teeth, so many dogs suffer from gum disease needlessly.

Signs of Periodontal Disease in Dogs

As stated, it can sometimes be easy to miss the onset of dog periodontal disease until it has reached a more advanced state.

Once past that initial stage however, some signs and symptoms to be on the alert for are:

¥ Red and/or bleeding gums
¥ Loosened teeth
¥ Stinky breath
¥ Issues with picking up food
¥ Mouth bumps or lumps
¥ Saliva that looks bloody
¥ Saliva that looks ‘ropey’
¥ Mouth chewing (often on one side)
¥ ‘Head shyness’ (when your dog ‘shies’ away from you touching their head)
¥ Noises when your dog yawns or eats
¥ Nasal discharge and sneezing
¥ Discolored enamel (yellow or brown)
¥ Loss of appetite
¥ Trouble chewing (food, bones and chew toys)
¥ Weight loss
¥ Anti-social behavior
¥ Irritable behavior
¥ Depressed behavior
¥ Pawing at the mouth
¥ Pus around the teeth
¥ Blood in their water bowl or on their chew toys
¥ Digestive and stomach problems can sometimes also be an issue

Risk Factors of Dog Dental Disease

Risk factors for periodontal disease is often related to breed and genetics. Smaller dogs are more prone to gum disease simply because they have smaller mouths with less space. This causes their teeth to crowd together, making them difficult to keep clean.

Although any dog can suffer from periodontal disease, the breeds that appear to be genetically predisposed to gum disease are:

¥ Shetland Sheepdogs
¥ Maltese
¥ Papillion
¥ Yorkshire Terriers
¥ Standard Toy Poodles
¥ Pomeranians
¥ Dachshunds
¥ Havanese
¥ Cavalier King Charles Spaniels

Diet can also play a role in whether your pooch will develop gum disease. Your fur baby’s age and general health will contribute, as well as his tooth alignment. Tooth alignment is related to breed.

Again, smaller dogs will suffer from improper tooth placement and crowding. Grooming habits can contribute to gum disease, chewing behaviors can play a role, and obviously, your dog’s overall dental hygiene is a big indicator of whether your pooch will eventually develop periodontal disease.

Stages of Periodontal Disease in Dogs

Stage 1

Unfortunately, stage one of dog periodontal disease is easily missed. Sometimes bad breath may be the only discernible sign. You also may see mild inflammation and redness along the gum line. This stage is called gingivitis.

Stage 2

In stage two of gum disease, your dog’s vet may notice little pockets between the gums and the teeth called periodontal pockets. When your vet finds these pockets, she will measure them. If they are more than 3mm’s deep, they are considered abnormal and treatment needs to begin immediately.

Stage 3

In stage three of periodontal disease, your dog’s vet will look for periodontal pockets that measure more than 5mm’s deep. It is in stage three that bone loss begins to occur, which is why you want to address this condition before it reaches this stage, if possible.

Stage 4

Stage four is when you begin to see up to 40 to 50 percent bone loss in your fur baby’s mouth. Extensive tartar buildup will be evident, as well as a receding gum line.

Causes of Gum Disease in Dogs

Gum disease, at its core, is related to bacteria. When food, saliva, and bacteria all mix together, they form plaque. Plaque then coats your fur kid’s teeth in a sticky film. When this plaque sits for several days, usually around day two or three, it starts to combine with other minerals and turns into tartar.

Once tartar builds up, your dog’s immune system steps in, trying to fight off the all the bacteria. This immune response is what causes the redness and inflammation in the gums and along the gum line.

When your fur child’s body is unable to fight off the bacteria contained in the plaque, it continues to set and calcify. As the tartar builds upon itself, it pushes the gums away from the teeth, creating little pockets between the teeth and gums that become a dream home for bacteria.

Those little pockets create a ripe breeding ground for more bacteria, which eventually results in abscesses and destroys tissue and bone. This is the stage where your dog’s teeth begin to break and become loose, and the bone erodes entirely. This stage can be quite painful for your pooch.

Another complication that occurs when the disease has spread this far is destruction in the bones, as even the slightest pressure could fracture the jaw of a small dog.

Preventing Periodontal Disease in Dogs

Just like people, your dog needs to see a vet on a regular basis for routine cleanings and exams. Exams with x-rays are your best course for prevention, because x-rays allow your vet to see a more complete picture of what may be going on in your dog’s mouth, especially below the gum line.

Again, just like with people, daily brushing of your dog’s teeth is vital. You already know that it is good for you, so why wouldn’t it be equally as good for your furry friend?

With some practice, some patience, and a little instruction from your vet, you can train your dog to allow you to brush hiss teeth without too much fuss. Just make sure you have the right tools.

Remember that food quality is also important in preventing many health conditions, including periodontal disease. In the same way a poor or incomplete diet can affect your dog’s overall health, it can also impact your dog’s teeth. Also, some vets may recommend foods that help scrub your dog’s teeth as they eat. You can also give your dog special foods and treats that contain additives to prevent plaque from hardening. This is often called the ‘dental diet’.

Another great way to help prevent gum disease in your pooch is to provide them with plenty of healthy treats, goodies, and safe toys for chewing every day.

The best treats and toys you can give your furry friend are:

¥ Thin rawhide strips
¥ Little rubber toys you can hide treats inside of
¥ Rubber balls

You don’t want to give your fur baby any treats or toys that are too hard. Treats and toys that are hard, such as nylon bones, pig or cow hoofs, and animal bones, can all contribute to broken teeth and fractures.

Sometimes you can find treats that are treated with enzymes to help reduce the formation of tartar. Obviously, this is not to take the place of regular brushing, but it can be an enjoyable and helpful way to contribute to keeping your dog’s teeth healthy.

One thing to keep in mind is that even with your best efforts, depending on the breed, your pet could still develop periodontal disease, simply because it’s in his genes. In those cases, reducing the potential for decay is the best thing that you can do to keep your dog’s mouth as clean and healthy as possible.

Another thing that is noteworthy—if you brush your fur baby’s teeth daily on your own, you could find that professional cleanings aren’t necessary quite as often.

How to Treat Periodontal Disease in Dogs

Unfortunately, the damage caused by periodontal disease in dogs is irreversible. However, you can treat it and prevent future pain and decay by using the preventive methods recommended above.

As far as treatments go, it can get costly. The stage of your dog’s teeth and the progression of the disease will determine what treatments are necessary. Professional dental cleaning, including scaling and polishing is common if large amounts of plaque coat your dog’s teeth. Most treatment procedures will require general anesthesia, so often blood work will be the first step.

Antibiotics could be given as part of the overall treatment protocol before a procedure to help keep bacteria from spreading. Remember that a complete oral exam with x-rays and probing can only happen if you are willing to put your dog under anesthesia.

The x-rays will help your vet determine the extent of the damage and what can be done to mitigate it, and whether there are any teeth that need to be extracted. Typically, all the exams and treatments needed will be done at the same time, so that your dog is only put under once.

Once a treatment plan is decided upon, your vet will thoroughly clean your fur kid’s teeth, removing plaque both below and above the gum line, and removing tartar as well using a tool called an ultrasonic scaler. Then your vet will polish the surface of your dog’s teeth and fill in any crevices to prevent future bacteria and plaque from building up. Sometimes an antibiotic gel may be used.

Once a dog is in stage three or four of gum disease, not only is cleaning and scaling necessary, but other treatment actions such as extraction, periodontal surgery or splinting, sub gingival curettage, and bone replacement procedures could become necessary.

Your vet may recommend or use sealants, as well as growth stimulants to promote regeneration of tissue, and slow-release antibiotics to help with healing. In the case of extractions, your vet will remove cracked, loose, or dying teeth to prevent the disease from spreading any further.

Remember that it is up to you to keep your fur kid healthy and happy. With regular attention to your canine’s oral hygiene, there’s no reason for your dog to suffer from such a preventable disease as periodontal disease in dogs.


Stages of Pet Periodontal Disease

Skin Conditions in Dogs & Cats

Nothing is worse than when our fur kids aren’t feeling well and we aren’t quite sure what’s wrong with them. When they experience illness, there are certain physical symptoms that may alert us to what’s wrong. However, there are some ailments and side effects that are more discreet, which we might miss upon first glance. Or, there are times when cats and dogs try to hide symptoms from their owners.

Even though our fur children may be able to communicate with us, they still can’t tell us exactly where it hurts. Animals can face some of the same illnesses, conditions, and allergies that humans do, but are limited in their ability to communicate their feelings. This is why it’s important that fur parents take extra precautions when it comes to the care of their beloved fur kid.

Although some side effects may be temporary and go away on their own, other conditions may be permanent or lead to more serious health issues if not given the proper attention and care.
It’s important to keep an eye out for changes in outward appearance and/or behavior in pets to ensure they are kept safe. Let’s take a look at a few of the most common skin conditions in dogs and cats.

Skin Conditions in Cats

Cats can be elusive animals and have been known to hide their symptoms quite well, especially when they’re not feeling well. Skin conditions are a different story since they can’t be hidden as easily. Even if your cat isn’t the cuddly type, make sure you hold him every once in a while to at least check their skin for any abnormalities. Below are a few cat skin conditions to make note of:

Open Sores

Maybe your fur kid likes to be extra frisky playing outdoors, running after squirrels, or climbing up trees. It may be common to see scratches or other minor injuries on his paws or face after being outside. However, open sores or lesions are still something you’ll want to keep an eye on to make sure they heal on their own.

Open sores can easily become infected when they fail to scab over – leaving them more susceptible to bacteria and disease. In fact, persistent sores may be the symptom of something larger. If you’ve noticed sores on your furry friend that haven’t gone away in a few days, make an appointment with your veterinarian to check for allergies or infectious disease.

Hair Loss

Hair loss or alopecia in fur parents can be caused by a variety of things. One of the most typical factors being stress or anxiety. Similarly, hair loss in your fur baby can be indicative of stress, allergies, or other types of illness or infection in the body.

Of course, you’ll notice your cat shedding (how can you ignore the never-ending hair clumps hidden all over your house), but if the hair is falling out in bigger clumps or more than usual, it’s something to be wary of. Your pet may not seem to be in pain, but this side effect could be related to a much larger diagnosis, such as pancreatic tumors or adrenal disease.


It may be strange to think about cats having allergies when usually they are the ones to cause allergies in others, but it occurs more frequently than you might think. There are three major types of allergies they can suffer from, including food allergies, environmental allergies, and flea allergies.

A cat with food allergies will most likely experience obvious reactions, such as vomiting or diarrhea, after eating the offending food. Food allergies for felines often occur when they have a hypersensitive reaction to protein. Do you suspect allergies in your fur child? Mention the symptoms on your next visit to your veterinarian. Seemingly unrelated actions could all stem from one common allergy.

Dull Coat

A change in appearance of your cat’s coat can indicate the presence of a more serious skin condition. The appearance maybe greasy, flaky, or dull. In some instances, you may notice your cat has discontinued grooming, which leaves the fur looking mangy, dry, or matted.

A cat’s diet could be the culprit for this skin condition. For example, a lack of omega-3 or omega-6 fatty acids could dull your cat’s fur. Fish sources are a common source of omega-3s and help moderate inflammation. Plants provide omega-6 fatty acids for pets and are important to maintain the skin’s cell membrane. Lack of either of these in the diet can result in a negative change in your pet’s outward appearance.

Ear Mites

They sound as invasive as they are (yuck!) The tiny parasites feed off the oil and wax inside your pet’s ear. If that’s not bad enough, this causes inflammation, which can develop into a more serious ear or skin infection.

Symptoms that indicate your fur child might have ear mites include excessive shaking or head shaking and/or a dark substance coming from the ears accompanied by an unpleasant odor. Check out your cat’s ears from time to time and make sure to schedule routine visits to the veterinarian for nose-to-tail checkups.

Feline Acne

Believe it or not, cats can get pimples too. While they may not experience the somewhat embarrassing outbreaks their fur parents have, feline acne is a common skin condition that spreads around your fur baby’s chin. However, much like humans, feline acne is caused by stress, an adverse reaction to medication, or poor grooming. Most cats are self-groomers, so you don’t normally have to worry about it. But if you see your fur kid isn’t taking care of his fur as diligently as before, acne may sprout up unexpectedly.

Dog Skin Conditions

Everyone’s had to deal with a scratching dog at one point or another, but many chalk it up to fleas or “just being a dog”. Although that may very well be the case, there are several other types of skin conditions your furry friend may be suffering from, which can cause this incessant itching.

Allergic Dermatitis

“Allergic dermatitis” is just a fancy word for skin allergies. Your dog may have an allergic reaction to grooming or bathing products, a change in food or treats, or environmental factors like insects or pollen.

If your fur kid is constantly scratching and is starting to show signs of redness or rashes, he may need to be treated for allergies.


This bacterial infection is visible on the surface of the skin and has the appearance of pimple-looking bumps, which are filled with pus. The condition is most often found in puppies and show up where there is little to no fur.

Although not immediately serious, impetigo can prove uncomfortable for your pet and should be treated right away. In most cases, the bumps can be treated with a topical solution before the bacteria spreads or becomes a bigger problem.


Ringworm is one of the more prevalent skin conditions dogs can get. Contrary to it’s name, the condition itself is not an actual worm, but a fungus. It is noticeable by its ring shapes that show up on the head, paws, ears, or legs.

In addition to hair loss, your dog may experience inflammation or scaly patches where the fungus lives. You will want to seek treatment for ringworm right away, as it can easily spread not only to dogs or other fur friends, but also to humans.

Your veterinarian can prescribe an anti-fungal treatment to take care of it, but you’ll want to limit your fur kid’s interaction with others until your pup has healed.

Hot Spots

The clinical term for hot spots is “acute moist dermatitis”, which refer to sections of the skin that are red and inflamed. Most often, they’re found on your fur child’s head or chest and feels hot to the touch.

Hot spots can result from allergies, infections, or excessive chewing or licking of the skin. It’s important to keep the section as clean as possible, but if this condition continues, your best bet is to pay your vet a quick visit.

Other Signs and Symptoms of Skin Conditions in Pets

There are several other symptoms (other than those listed above) that may alert you that your fur kid is suffering from a skin condition or other health issue.

Does your fur kid drag his back legs on the carpet? Does your cat or dog constantly lick raw patches onto his paws? Does your fur child sneeze, scratch, or itch a lot? Although the behavior may seem harmless, if it happens regularly, it’s worth having checked out. It’s also a good idea to keep a look out for:

● Dandruff
● Flaking
● Scaling
● Hair loss
● Inflammation
● Strong odor
● Increased oiliness

There may need to be an adjustment to your fur kid’s diet, shampoo, or other products you use daily. Allergies may develop over time or may change with the seasons. Knowing your fur baby’s habits is what will help most to control issues and prevent conditions and diseases from developing further.

How to Remedy Skin Conditions in Pets

The best thing to do if you notice a skin abnormality, rash, or unusual bumps is to schedule an appointment with your veterinarian. A doctor can properly analyze the symptoms associated you’re your fur kid’s physical condition and eliminate any chance of the skin condition being an indicator of a larger problem. They’ll already have a history of your pet’s health and can help put your mind at ease.

If you cannot get to the veterinary clinic right away or you want to try an at-home remedy for more short-term skin conditions such as a mild allergic reaction to certain plants or products, then consider the following:

• Vitamin E for dry skin. When your pup experiences dry, flaky skin, you can pamper your pet with a massage. Apply vitamin E directly into the skin or add it to part of your fur kid’s bath. It will help soothe the skin and make it healthier.

• Applying certain foods as a topical solution can help with your pet’s skin conditions as well. Chamomile tea, for example, can be used as a natural disinfectant for minor skin irritations on your fur baby. Chill the tea first and spray onto your pet’s skin for a soothing effect.

• Oatmeal also helps ease the skin, especially from a rash or allergies that make your fur child extra itchy. Oatmeal is often used in human bath products for its mellow nature that is gentle on the skin and helps with irritation. Why shouldn’t we use it for our fur kids, too?

What Kind of Pet Care Routine Should You Follow?

Ensure your pet is receiving a balanced diet. Make sure your fur baby receives his daily dose of nutrients every day. Read the labels of all the food and snacks you feed your pet to check for fillers, dyes, or other potentially harmful ingredients. If you have more than one pet in your household, they may be allergic or have adverse experiences to different things. It’s important to keep food and drink separate for each fur kid.

Take your pet for regular checkups. Just like humans should visit the dentist twice a year or go to the doctor for yearly physicals, regular checkups for your fur baby is just as important. Even if there are no major changes to report, it’s a good idea to be preventative rather than waiting and having to be reactive when thing go wrong. Be proactive for the health of your pet.

Know your fur baby like the back of your hand. Before even getting a pet, research the breed you want and what kind of conditions their breeds might be more susceptible to. For example, a puppy with lots of skin folds may collect debris, dirt, and oils within the skin that can lead to skin conditions. The more you know in advance, the better you can care for your pet in the future. It can help you know what to look out for as your pet grows.

How to Pet-Proof Your Apartment

Getting a fuzzy new roommate is an exciting adventure, but there are a few steps you should take to ensure that your apartment isn’t totally thrashed, making it look worse than a college dorm room. Not only do you want to provide a hazard-free environment, but you also want to ensure that your pet feels right at home. Here are a few easy ways to prep your apartment for your newest roomie.

Paws Off

Puppies and kittens are notoriously curious, leading them to open any cabinets, cupboards, or cubbies they can get their little paws on. Even mature fur kids can be intrigued by their new space, sending them on a hunt through your precious belongings. Not only is it a nuisance to come home to the contents of the bathroom cabinet dispersed all over the floor, but it is also potentially dangerous for your pet.

When your fur child gets into your belongings, they will likely lick, chew, or attempt to play with their newest treasures. Items such as cleaning products, prescriptions, and even certain foods can be extremely harmful to your furry friend. Take preventative measures by putting childproof locks on cabinets that house these dangerous products.

Fragile Finds

In addition to chemical products, the Pinterest-inspired decor you worked so hard on could be potentially harmful. Any fragile items that could be knocked over and shattered should be put away or out of reach. Remember that cats are climbers and can jump up on very high surfaces, so it’s safest to remove dangerous materials altogether.

Any pointy, sharp items should be removed from your fur kid’s environment so that they don’t chew on them and cut themselves. Think of this as an opportunity to de-clutter last season’s mason jars and revamp your apartment with pet-friendly décor.

Cut the Cord

Electrical cords can also come as a shockingly scary surprise to curious, teething pets. Eliminate this risk by unplugging any unused cords, and covering cords that you need plugged in at all times.

Protective cord covers can be found at your local hardware store, or you can try coating your cords with a bad tasting spray that your fur kids will be sure to avoid. In addition to electrical cords, the cords hanging from blinds can be a chocking hazard, especially for climbing kitties. Tie your cords up in a loop to keep them out of reach.

Plant Proof

Many plants are poisonous to dogs and cats, and unfortunately, many pets love chewing and digging through them. Even non-poisonous plants can be harmful, causing vomiting or diarrhea. It’s important to do your homework on what houseplants are pet-safe before bringing your new best friend home.

Check out the ASPCA’s list of toxic and nontoxic plants to see if your windowsill garden is in the clear. After reading through the list, replace your dying lilies with pet-friendly plants, or better yet, a treat like cat-grass. Cat-grass is a healthy mix of grasses including wheat, oat, and rye, which your kitty will love to chew on.

Who Let the Dogs Out?

Another way to ensure your pet’s safety is to provide them with a secure space that will keep them from running away. It may take a little time for your apartment to feel like your pet’s true home, and you want to ensure that there isn’t a way for them to sneak out. Inside, check that your screens, windows, and doors are secure. If your fur kid is a scratcher, you may need to get a plastic or metal grate to cover screens so he cannot push through it.

If your fur child spends just as much time outdoors as they do lounging around inside, it’s important to pet-proof your yard. Make sure that there aren’t any holes in or under the gate, and that the fence is high enough to keep your fur baby in.

If you have a pool, it is important to make sure that this is gated off as well. Another huge factor is eliminating potential poisons. Remove any toxic plants and check that poisonous pesticides aren’t being used in your area. If you do not own your apartment, you should check with your property manager to see if any harmful chemicals are being used.

Dumpster Diving

Although we tend to avoid the trash at all costs, many pets think the trashcan is a treasure trove of new smells and things to explore. To prevent your fur kid from eating harmful items or decorating your kitchen floor with food scraps, make sure all of your trashcans have secure lids. The same rules apply for litter boxes if you have a cat and you are getting a dog.

When it comes to your fur child’s safety, a little preparation goes a long way. Keep your furry friend happy and healthy, while keeping your apartment disaster free by pet-proofing your space before bringing home your new roommate.

Ear Infections in Dogs

Think back to summer camp as a kid—playing tag in the woods, swimming in the lake, and eating all the yummy foods Mom would never allow in the house. Upon coming home with a sunburn and scrapes as battle scars, you would suddenly develop an earache.

This is a typical childhood memory most people can relate to, and surprisingly, your fur kid can too. All of your rambunctious summer camp activities also happen to be some of your four-legged friend’s favorite hobbies, often leading to an earache.

Ear infections in dogs are one of the most common reasons for a trip to the vet, so as a responsible fur parent, it is important to be aware of the causes, symptoms, treatment, and prevention methods.

Causes of Ear Infections in Dogs

There are a number of ways your fur kid can develop an unpleasant earache. The most frequent cause of ear infections in dogs is an imbalance of bacteria or yeast. While bacteria and yeast both exist naturally in your dog, when they become out of balance, an infection can begin making itself at home.

A change of environment, moisture, or a fluctuation in hormones can reduce your dog’s natural ability to maintain a healthy balance of bacteria, sparking the infection. As all of these sources are relatively commonplace, it is understandable how Fido could develop a few earaches over the years.

Your dog may also be hosting a few pesky pets of his own that are leading to the ear infections. Ear mites are another cause of infection, and although they are more typical in cats, they can be found in dogs – especially in puppies. Ear mites are not externally visible, and are transmitted from animal to animal. If your pup is a social butterfly, some unwanted visitors might be causing the ear infection.

Another potential cause of ear infections in dogs is the presence of foreign objects in the ear canal. Unlike humans with our tiny, vertical ear canals, our fur children have large ear canals that go flapping in the wind as they chase some poor unsuspecting squirrel down the driveway.

The nature of their anatomy makes it easier for dirt, debris, and other foreign objects to get lodged in their ear. These objects eventually work their way into the ear canal, sparking a painful infection.

A larger issue that could be causing earaches in your dog is hypothyroidism. This is a relatively common disease found in middle-aged dogs, with some breeds more susceptible than others. Hypothyroidism occurs when the thyroid gland, primarily responsible for monitoring metabolism, is under producing. Although this disease can produce a wide array of symptoms such as lack of energy, hair loss, and weight gain, an ear infection can also be one of the side effects.

In addition to external factors, your cocker spaniel’s adorable floppy ears might be one of the culprits leading to unpleasant ear infections. By nature, long eared dog breeds are more susceptible to ear infection because it is easier for moisture and foreign objects to get caught inside the ear. Similarly, dogs with long hair around their ears can also be at higher risk compared to dogs with short hair and upright ears.

There are a number of elements that can lead to ear infections in our canine companions, so unfortunately there is not one simple solution. The best way to eliminate an earache is to have a veterinarian take a peek in your dog’s ear and find the root of the problem. However, there are a several symptoms that you can be on the lookout for to ensure that your fur baby is as happy and healthy as possible.

Symptoms of Dog Ear Infection

Although it would be amazing if our furry pals could simply tell us that their ears are hurting, unfortunately, we aren’t all Dr. Dolittle and need to be aware of the warning signs of an ear infection. Most dogs will get an earache at one point in their lives, so it’s important to know the symptoms.

There are a handful of actions or habits that your dog might pick up if he has an ear infection. You may notice physical actions such as shaking the head, tilting the head to the infected side, rubbing or pawing at the ear(s), or excessive scratching around the ear area.

In addition to your dog pawing at his ear, you may notice a lack of balance or walking in circles, indicating an infection. Sometimes the pain is so intense, that your furry friend will refrain from opening his jaw or eating because it triggers the pain of an ear infection. Keep an eye out for uncharacteristic habits in your dog to identify an ear infection.

Besides odd behavior, there are also visible symptoms that may indicate that your fur kid has an earache. Redness, swelling, and scabs in or around the ears can all be signs of an infection. You also may notice brown, dark yellow, or bloody discharge in your dog’s ear. Do not mistake this for earwax, as these symptoms are not normal and should be treated.

Finally, one of the most common symptoms is one that you can neither see nor observe in your dog’s actions. Tap into your own dog-like super-smell and see if your dog’s ear is giving off an unpleasant odor. If you notice an unusually pungent scent coming from your dog’s ear, this is often a key indicator of an infection.

Next time your pup starts pawing at his ear, don’t take it as an opportunity for an adorable Snapchat, as this is a symptom of an ear infection. Being aware of the signs is part of responsible fur parenthood so that you can spot the problem and prevent your dog from dealing with unnecessary pain. Ear infections originate from a variety of causes, so your veterinarian can prescribe the best treatment for your dog’s specific case.

Treatments for Canine Ear Infection

It is always safest to consult a certified professional before diagnosing your dog or attempting to treat the ear infection. Even though your intentions are good, this could escalate the problem if incorrectly diagnosed or improperly cared for. There are a number of potential reasons that the earache originally formed, and your vet can provide you with the right solution to help make your fur baby feel as good as new.

A bacterial infection is one of the most typical causes of an earache because it can be sparked by a number of external factors. If your veterinarian determines that the root of the problem is a bacterial infection, he or she will professionally clean the ear and prescribe antibiotics.

For some mild cases, your vet may recommend a simple cleaning routine; however, if the bacterial infection is more serious, antibiotics may be necessary to get rid of the earache once and for all. Since antibiotics are something that should be treated carefully, it is important to strictly follow the provided instructions and follow through with the prescription.

Another common doggie diagnosis is an infection caused by an imbalance in yeast. Although one might assume that antibiotics are the solution, your vet will actually recommend an antifungal solution. If the infection is only in the outer canal, they will clean the ear and provide you with a topical solution.

However, if the yeast imbalance has caused the infection to spread to the inner canal, further treatment such as tablets or injections may be needed. With infections caused by bacteria or yeast, your vet may prescribe an additional anti-inflammatory to supplement the antibiotics or antifungal treatment.

If some pesky, unwanted visitors are the culprits behind your dog’s ear infection, your veterinarian will provide you with a parasiticide to put the ear mites out of business. One of the primary complications with ear mites is that that they can easily spread from animal to animal and can live outside a host for a period of time.

Due to these factors, one of the keys to eliminating the ear mites is to shut them down at all sources. This includes getting your other fur kids checked for mites and thoroughly cleaning your living area, specifically areas that your dog likes to frequent.

In addition to the medication, your vet may recommend a thorough ear cleaning, which can be administered in the veterinary office. It is important to eliminate ear mites as quickly as possible because their presence can cause your pup to scratch so much that further ear damage is incurred.

It may seem like a bit of a no brainer, but if your veterinarian finds a foreign object such as a burr lodged in your pet’s ear, they will remove it. It is important that a professional does this so that no harm is caused during the removal process. The tricky part is then assessing what damage the foreign object has done. Your vet will assess the situation and see if antibiotics or another form of treatment is required after the object has been removed.

In some cases, the earache may be a side effect of a larger problem such as hypothyroidism. If this is the case, your veterinarian will diagnose the problem and provide proper treatment. In the case of hypothyroidism, a regular dose of artificial thyroid hormones will balance your furry friend’s hormones and return him to his normal self. Because a larger systemic issue such as hypothyroidism could be the root of the problem, it is important not to play doctor and do the diagnosing yourself.

Although long, luscious locks and bouncy, floppy ears might bring all the dogs to the yard, unfortunately these characteristics also make your pup more susceptible to infections. This is a naturally occurring cause based on your dog’s anatomy, so you can help out by participating in prevention methods such as cleaning to keep your fur baby’s ears squeaky clean!

Preventative Measures for Dog Ear Infections

Whether your dog’s breed is more prone to ear infections or not, almost all dogs will get an ear infection at least in their lifetime. However, preventative measures can be taken to stop the infection in its tracks. The best preventative step you can take is to make a habit of checking your dog’s ears on a weekly basis.

Keep an eye out for physical symptoms such as extreme redness, swelling, or abnormally dark earwax. Remember small amounts of wax are normal, and shouldn’t cause alarm. When checking your dog’s ears, take a quick whiff of those puppies to ensure that there isn’t any unusual odor. By keeping an eye on your pup, an infection can be stopped before going too far.

In addition to keeping an eye out for the symptoms, there are a few additional steps you can take to avoid unpleasant earaches. Since trapped moisture is a common cause of infection, make sure to thoroughly dry your dog’s ears after swimming and bathing. If your dog’s long hair is locking in moisture, have your groomer trim the hair around the ears.

Finally, if your fur kid is a repeat offender when if comes to ear infections, you can talk to your veterinarian about an at-home cleanser that you gently apply with a cotton swab. Although cleaning often seems like the answer, it is important to check with your vet first because over-cleaning can have an adverse effect, drying out the ears and leading to an unintended imbalance.

It was never fun spending the week after summer camp with a debilitating earache, and your fur child couldn’t agree more. There are a number of causes that can spark an ear infection, so it is important to be aware of the symptoms so that you can stop the infection in its tracks. Although ear infections are an uncomfortable ailment, they can be easily treated with a quick trip to the vet, some TLC… and a few extra treats during recovery doesn’t hurt either!