Saturday, May 23, 2015

Canine Influenza FAQ

Canine influenza has made a comeback in the news lately. Here is a Q&A with the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) about canine influenza that will answer some of your most burning questions:

Otitis and Ear Infections

Ear Infections are one of the most common problems submitted to pet insurances every year.  Dogs and cats typically get otitis externa, which is an inflammation of the ear canal rather than a middle ear infection (which is more common in people).

Foreign bodies in the ear canal, parasites, yeast or a bacterial infection, allergies, moisture from swimming and (in cats) pharyngeal polyps
Head shaking, pawing at the head, scratching, reddish brown build up of ear wax, yellow crusty build up, thickening of skin, and odor.
Otoscopic exam by a veterinarian and a swab from each ear for cytology to determine the cause of the infection and appropriate treatment options. Your veterinarian will also need to know if your pet has been in water recently, if they have a history of allergy issues, if there has been a change in food, etc.

If there is no infection, it is important to just keep the ears clean. Dogs and cats have a vertical and a horizontal ear canal.  This can make cleaning a bit more challenging, but here are some tips: 

In acute issues, cleaning can be straightforward. However, if ear infections are a chronic problem with your pet, thickening of the ear canal can cause additional hurdles.
To clean your pet's ears you will need cotton balls and a good, water-based ear cleaner (not alcohol or peroxide!). You may also need a helper. :)  Soak the cotton balls with cleaner, place the cotton ball in the ear, and start gently massaging. This will cause the ear cleaner to drip into the canal. The idea is to fill up the ear canal with the cleaner.
With larger ears, you may need to actually fill the ear canal directly with the solution. In either case, massage the base of the ear, then use the cotton balls to gently remove debris and wax from the canal. You should get into a routine of cleaning your pet's ears daily, weekly, or bimonthly, as recommended by your veterinarian depending on your lifestyle and current problems.
Medical therapy may be necessary if an infection is present. Topical ointments are most often used, either a liquid solution that is applied daily or a gel-like long-acting ointment that is applied once or twice in the hospital. Sometimes oral medications may be added as well, including antibiotics, steroids, or antihistamines. If the infection is suspected to be the result of an allergy, food trials and allergy testing are also sometimes warranted. In extreme cases, surgery may be discussed.

If you think that an infection may be present, please see your veterinarian sooner rather than later. Infections rarely clear up on their own, and severe or repeated infections can damage the ear drum, which will require additional precautions or treatments.