Sunday, May 26, 2013

Preventing ear infections in dogs

It is the time of year (especially in DC where the humidity is creeping up); when I start seeing a rise in the number of dogs with ear infections.

In Chinese medicine we describe ear infections as "damp heat" in the ears. In addition to keeping ears clean to prevent infection, in my practice I talk with clients about dietary options to help drain damp and clear heat, as well herbal formulas and acupuncture treatments.

Gator loves to cool off in the pool; but I make sure to clean out his ears afterward

It is important to keep your dog's ears clean and dry (especially after swimming or bathing) to prevent ear infections. One of my favorite "at home" remedies to keep ears clean (after checking with your vet to make sure your dog doesnt have an active infection that needs to be treated) is to clean the ears every few days with pure aloe vera juice. Aloe is a "cooling" plant in Chinese medicine; and it has antimicrobial properties.

I have clients use "George's Aloe Vera Juice". Pour a cup of the juice over a few cotton balls. You can add 1-2 drops of tee tree oil (a potent anti-microbial essential oil) if your dog is prone to yeast or bacterial infections. Be careful to not use more tea tree oil than this (and never use it in cats); as this medicinal oil can be toxic at high doses.

Use the cotton balls to clean the ears. Never use Q-tips to clean your dogs ears at home; as it can be easy to go a little too far and severely damage your dog's ear drum

Here's Gator getting ready for an ear cleaning. It helps to have some treats handy as a reward :)

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Lifesaving dogs

Sometimes the simplest answers are the most brilliant. I love this approach to detecting ovarian cancer in women; utilizing dogs' incredible sense of smell. Check out this article on dogs who are saving lives :)

Puppies at Penn to battle ovarian cancer. Ohlin (top left), McBain (top right), Thunder (bottom right), Working Dogs Center Director Cindy Otto (lower left) with puppy Sirius (not in the cancer study).

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Healthy treat on a hot day :)

In Arizona this time of year the temperatures are already reaching the 90's. To help my dog Gator cool off after a hot walk; I like to give him a treat based on the principles of Chinese veterinary medicine.
In Chinese medicine we look at each food as having a specific effect on the body. For example, some foods are "warming", some are "cooling", some help drain excess fluids from the body, and some help to circulate "Qi" (pronounced "Chee") - the life force energy.
Watermelon is in the category of  "cold" foods. That is, when you eat it, even if it is at room temperature, it effectively cools the body down. I like to keep a small watermelon in the refrigerator; and offer Gator a few bites after a walk.
If your dog has a sensitive stomach you may want to try a very small amount to start and see how she tolerates it. You could also try a kefir or yogurt (unsweetened, plain) treat. These are cooling foods as well, and often the probiotics help pups with sensitive tummies.

 more please! :)