How to Keep Your Dog’s Ears Clean and Healthy

How to Keep Your Dog's Ears Clean and Healthy

Most dogs are not excited at the prospect of having their ears cleaned, but it’s a necessary part of their overall health care. Your dog may be fortunate and not need very frequent ear cleaning, but most dogs need to have dirt buildup cleaned every so often to discourage infections. If your dog’s ears seem sensitive when they are touched, there is most likely some issue causing discomfort.

Cleaning the Ear

Purchase an ear-cleaning solution recommended by your veterinarian. Other supplies needed include cotton balls or gauze pads and a towel. Don’t use any other products, such as cotton swabs which can result in trauma to the inner ear. The process can be a bit messy, so dress appropriately and do the procedure in the bathroom or kitchen where it is easy to clean up. When ready, follow these three steps:
1. Choose a time when your dog is relaxed to make the process go smoothly. Have some treats handy to distract your dog if it starts to get restless.
2. Squeeze enough of the cleaning solution into the dog’s ear canal and gently massage the base of the ear for about 30 seconds. Listen for a sound (squishy) indicating any debris or buildup has been broken.
3. Your dog will start shaking its head. Use the towel to wipe down the dog’s face, and to protect your clothing. When the head-shaking is finished, use a cotton ball or gauze pad to wipe out the ear canal, going no deeper than the length of one knuckle. Stop cleaning immediately if your dog appears to experience any pain, and call your veterinarian for advice if this happens.

Ear Infection Symptoms

An ear infection requires a trip to the veterinarian’s office to verify the problem and determine the course of treatment. The following symptoms are indicative of an ear infection:
• Redness and inflammation in the ear canal
• Scratching the ear and surrounding area
• Head shaking
• Odor coming from the ear
• Rubbing the ear on furniture
• Discharge from the ear (bloody, yellow, or brown)
• Crusty scabs on inside of the outer ear
• Hair loss in the area of the ear
• Walking in circles
• Unusual eye movements
• Loss of hearing
• Appears to be experiencing ear pain

It’s important not to try to clean an infected ear at home, as it can worsen the problem. If you recognize any of the listed symptoms occurring with your dog, call your veterinarian for an appointment. Ear infections can happen quickly. Your dog may be fine in the morning, but be uncomfortable and displaying symptoms in the afternoon. Whether the problem is due to an ear infection, ear mites, allergies, or fleas, it requires medical attention and evaluation from your veterinarian.

Certain dogs, especially those with long droopy ears (for instance cocker spaniels, setters, and basset hounds) are more prone to ear infections, as are those who are swimmers. Droopy ears are harder to get dry, and bacteria forms in the moist climate inside. The ear hair traps moisture and other debris inside. Keeping the hair around the ears trimmed helps some. If you dog loves to swim, ask your veterinarian about drying agents for your dog’s ear care following time in the water.

Taking care of your dog’s ears is an important part of a good health regimen. Always consult your veterinarian if anything appears abnormal. Protecting your dog’s ears today can help prevent deafness in the future.

Why Does My Dog Eat Grass?

Have you ever wondered why dogs eat grass? If your dog likes to graze in green pastures, there are a few important things you need to know. Some people believe grass-eating is unhealthy and unnatural, while others worry it’s a sign of illness. But rest assured, eating grass probably won’t hurt your dog, although you should bear a couple of potential problems in mind. Here’s why your furry pal may grab mouthfuls of grass when you’re out walking, what to do about it, and some reasons chowing down in the meadow isn’t always a good idea.

Grass is edible

Grass isn’t inedible, as some people say, otherwise horses and cows wouldn’t eat it as part of their main diet. You might not expect a typical carnivore to enjoy grass, but human carnivores like salad, so why wouldn’t a dog want a few greens too?

Rather than your dog having a penchant for the flavor of grass, though, it’s more likely they need fiber to aid digestion. Consider whether your dog gets enough roughage in meals, and if not, include some to help them digest their food. Dogs often enjoy small portions of spinach, carrots, broccoli, or another vegetable as part of a balanced diet.

Grass and illness in dogs

Although grass won’t cause your dog to become ill, in rare cases, eating it might indicate something’s wrong. The jury’s out whether excessive grass-eating signals an internal problem, but be on the safe side. If you are worried your hound’s grass-munching is extravagant, pay a visit to a veterinarian for peace of mind. Most of the time, though, eating grass is not a cause for concern.

A dog might vomit after eating grass. Again, this isn’t unusual. People sometimes suppose dogs consume grass because they need to bring up something they’ve ingested. Are they right? Possibly. There’s no clear evidence, but it may be so. The grass can tickle the throat as it’s swallowed, causing the animal to be sick, and consuming it might be an instinctive urge to induce vomiting.

Grass-eating and boredom

People often suggest that grass-eating stems from boredom. Dogs that are eating grass, though, are outdoors exercising and playing. Nonetheless, lest this is true, think about whether your dog has adequate exercise and mental stimulation. Young dogs require about two walks every day. Older dogs may prefer only one short walk. All dogs need interesting things to occupy their minds, and most enjoy canine company. Make sure your hound’s requirements are met, and you can rule out boredom as the reason for eating grass.

Concerns to consider when your dog eats grass

Alas, not all grass your dog finds is natural in entirety, because of harmful chemical usage. Mostly, the grass you see while you take your dog for a walk is clean. Occasionally, though, it might not be so innocent, so make sure you know for certain it’s safe for consumption before letting your dog eat it.

Make sure your Dog has Plenty of Fresh Water
A well-hydrated dog will eat less, using an Automatic Dog Waterer like the Perpetual Well will ensure your dog has access to freshwater all the time. Being well-hydrated will also help with the circulation of blood, digestion, and removal of waste.

Lungworm is another pitfall to consider. It’s transmitted via snails and slugs that sometimes live among grass. The solution is to check you give your dog a wormer that kills lungworms, since some varieties, notably those bought in pet shops rather than from a veterinarian, do not. You should try to ensure your dog avoids long, seed-shedding grasses too: The kernels can get lodged in canine paws, ears and eyes, or stick in skin.

Mostly, it’s fine for dogs to eat grass. Check the grass your dog munches is free from chemicals, though, and whether eating it signals a lack of fiber or mental stimulation. Give your dog regular worm treatment too, and if their grass-scoffing habit’s excessive, visit a veterinarian, just to make sure all is well.

Sneaky Ways to Increase Your Dog’s Water Intake

Dogs need to drink plenty of water just like their human masters do. Water aids digestion, stabilizes body temperature, helps eliminate waste, and lubricates the joints. How much water is needed for good canine health? Veterinarians generally suggest dogs drink one ounce of water per pound each day. For example, a 40-pound dog would need to consume at least five cups of water. Water intake guidelines are even higher for dogs who are extremely active and live in hot climates. Young puppies might need as much as a cup of water every four hours.

Getting your dog to drink water can be a chore though. Many dogs aren’t drawn to their drinking bowls often. Taking a few licks of water here and there isn’t enough. Unfortunately, dogs can become dehydrated without ample bodily fluid. Dehydration is a serious concern for our furry companions too. Dehydrated dogs are sluggish and sallow. Dogs with dehydration may pant excessively, have dry noses and gums, or possibly vomit. Veterinary treatment with IV fluids is then imperative to avoid shock. Preventing dehydration in dogs is the best medicine. Always offer your dog access to fresh water. If they’re not taking the bait, here are five sneaky ways to entice your dog into drinking more water.

1. Give Your Pooch an Incentive

Your dog might need a bit of motivation to drink water. Sometimes, simple praise with a “good boy” and head pat will work. Other times, you’ll need to trick your dog with treats. Food-oriented dogs respond well when rewarded with treats. Train your dog to associate water with a quick bite to eat. Make your dog earn the reward by drinking a serving of water, not a few drops. Dogs soon learn to drink more water in hopes of scoring a snack. Be careful with food incentives though. You don’t want to overfeed your dog and cause weight gain. Pick a small, low-calorie option, such as training treats or plain Cheerios.

2. Make the Water Taste Better

Humans often struggle to chug down enough water because the taste is bland. Dogs have one-sixth of the taste buds that people do, but water is still pretty boring. Water is odorless, which doesn’t make it tempting to a dog’s strong nose either. Owners can improve their dog’s water intake by adding flavor. You might sneak in a tablespoon of low-sodium chicken or beef broth. Stir in some sugar-free peanut butter powder without xylitol. Mix in a few drops of lactose-free white milk. Perhaps infuse the water with fruits like apples or bananas. Avoid grapes and cherries that are toxic to dogs. If you’re concerned about pet allergies, simply add the juice from your dog’s canned food.

3. Add Water to Your Pup’s Meal

Watered down kibble doesn’t sound too pleasing to us. However, your dog will likely be too distracted by the meaty goodness to notice. Moistening dog food might make it more flavorful. Softer kibble could even help if your dog has dental health troubles. The bloated chunks of food will trick your dog into unknowingly drinking water. Pour your dog’s normal serving of kibble into a bowl. Mix in water and place it in the refrigerator. Let the kibble soak up the water for several hours until supper. If you use canned or raw food, the prep won’t take so long. You can add the water to soft dog foods right at feeding time.

4. Cool Down With Ice Cubes

Is your dog an avid chewer? Try trading a bone or your shoe for an ice cube. Frozen water still counts as water. Many dogs prefer munching on a solid ice cube than drinking a liquid. Ice cubes come with the added benefit of cooling dogs down. Crunching on an ice cube on a hot day or after vigorous exercise could prevent heat stroke. Simply fill a silicone ice tray with water and put it in the freezer. It’s best to pick a tray with small cubes to avoid hurting your dog’s teeth. Ice shavings would work if you’re worried about a choking hazard. Some pet owners also mix in low-sodium broth to make a tantalizing ice treat. Once frozen, pop the ice cube out and into Fido’s mouth.

5. Buy a Fun Drinking Fountain

Having a water bowl in every room can remind dogs to drink more often. Let’s admit that plain dishes with stagnant water aren’t that appealing though. Finicky drinkers might need to be persuaded more. Luckily, there are many automatic dog water bowl systems available. Dog water fountains provide a continuous supply of clean, cool water to slurp down. Running water may catch your dog’s attention and lure them in to drink. Most fountains have big reservoirs to keep water running whenever you’re away. Several models also feature water filters to remove debris and potential toxins. Search your pet store online for an affordable dog water fountain to keep your pet hydrated.

Remember too much of a good thing can be harmful. On the other end of the spectrum, too much water is also bad. Watch your dog’s water intake to prevent overhydration. Drinking more water than needed can poison your dog. Excessive amounts of water deplete the body of sodium and harm the kidneys. Look for overhydration warning signs, such as bloating, fatigue, and pale gums. Talk with a licensed veterinarian about the right amount of water for your dog. Finding the perfect balance of water intake and excretion is important for your dog to thrive. When needed, use the five tips above to trick any stubborn pups into drinking more water.

automatic dog waterer

Protecting Your Dog from Parvovirus

Parvo is a highly infectious and potentially deadly viral infection that affects dogs. To protect your precious pup from getting parvo, you should have him or her vaccinated as soon as possible. However, for some dogs, such as ones with compromised immune systems, this might not be an option. In these cases, you must control both the outdoor and indoor environments to eliminate your dog’s exposure to the virus.


Since parvo is spread via contact with the feces of infected dogs, you must keep your yard clean. Remove all feces and toss the pooper-scooper in the garbage when you’re done. You should also spray your dog’s favorite spots with a solution of bleach and water.

Aside from keeping your own yard clean, you must reduce your dog’s chances of coming in contact with sick animals. This means avoiding dog parks and any other area where there’s a high population of possibly infected dogs.


Inside, you’ll need to clean everything with a bleach-and-water solution, since bleach is the only disinfectant that’s been shown to destroy the virus. If your dog likes a spot, clean it – the furniture, the floor, even the walls! Pay special attention to your doggy’s food and water bowls. You can either bleach them out or throw them away and buy new ones.

It’s possible to track in parvo-contaminated soil, so it’s also necessary to thoroughly clean all carpets and bedding.

If you’re vigilant and work hard to keep things clean, there’s no reason your dog should ever contract the parvovirus. If something goes wrong and your beloved pooch does become infected, be sure to seek veterinary help right away. Parvovirus left untreated is lethal.

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