Dog Days of Summer: Skin and Ear Issues
Categories: Health & Healing
When the temperatures get warm, it creates an environment that is perfect for bacteria and/or yeast to flourish on your dog. Below, Raw and Natural Nutrition for Dogs author Lew Olson shares some tips for keeping your dog happy and healthy during the summer months, despite the issues that may come up.
Skin and Coat
Skin problems can erupt in a variety of ways. You may see issues arise on one specific area, such as the base of the tail, the feet or in another localized area. It may also present issues in large patches on the body. In any of these situations, the first defense is to bathe the dog with a drying type of shampoo, such as those that are oatmeal based. If the itching is due to environmental causes, it should help immediately and provide comfort for at least a short period of time. Bathing removes the offending allergens and gives short term relief. You can use a rinse of ¾ water and ¼ white vinegar after fully rinsing the dog of the shampoo. This helps remove all the soap from the skin and helps to kill yeast.
If this doesn’t solve the problem, I use either a mix of aloe vera gel and witch hazel, or Thayers Original Witch Hazel with Aloe Vera, on the affected areas. The witch hazel helps stop the itching temporarily and the aloe vera cools and helps heal the affected area.
If the itching and irritation persists, it is time to check for fleas. Even one flea bite on some dogs can cause long term itching and scratching. The best way to check is with a good inspection of the coat and skin. A flea comb can help with this. If you are certain there are no fleas, it is probably time to take your dog to your veterinarian and get a skin scraping and culture, to check for yeast and/or bacteria. Bacterial infections can be treated with antibiotics. Yeast can be corrected with diet and supplements. Yeast likes sugar so it is good to avoid high carbohydrate diets. Home-cooked or raw diets work best. Berte’s Ultra Probiotic Powder Digestion Aid helps balance the good flora and fauna in the digestive tract, which helps fight and kill yeast.
If the cultures come up negative, you may be dealing with food allergies but those are not common and generally don’t develop until the dog is a year of age or older. Food elimination diets work best. For good information on elimination diets, please visit this website.
Antihistamines may help! Benadryl can be used in dogs, but please check on dosing with your veterinarian! Another more natural antihistamine is Animals’ Apawthecary Spring Tonic. This is an herbal blend that contains nettles and can help control itching and scratching. You administer this herbal tincture by simply applying the recommended dosage on the gum line twice daily.
Treating skin problems requires consistency and persistence. You need to bathe your dog regularly and continue applying the Thayers Original Witch Hazel or Halo Derma Dream Salve to the affected areas to help heal and sooth the skin.
It is also very important to help support the dog’s immune system. When a dog’s immune system is compromised, it can overreact to normal substances in the environment, which results in allergic reactions. Good supplements to help the immune system include EPA fish oil capsules. These contain omega 3 fatty acids, which not only help with coat and skin health, but also help with the immune system. Give one capsule per 10 pounds of body weight daily, with food.
The Berte’s Immune Blend contains antioxidants, including vitamin C and E, as well as probiotics that help restore normal flora and fauna in the digestive tract. It also contains l-Glutamine, which aids digestion and helps with healing.
Both humidity and warm weather also tend to bring on ear problems. You may notice your dog shaking their head or holding their head at an angle. A closer inspection may show redness in the ear canal, dampness in the ear or maybe a brown, waxy discharge. A trip to your veterinarian may be in order to have an ear culture done. Three things can cause ear problems: ear mites, bacteria, or yeast. Ear mites are less likely but easy for your veterinarian to see under a microscope. A culture can determine if bacteria are present and also determine what bacteria it is so the right antibiotic can be prescribed. Yeast is often the likely culprit. Heat and humidity create the perfect environment for yeast to grow in the ear canal and, if it gets severe, bacteria can occasionally develop as well.
If your veterinarian prescribes an antibiotic to treat a bacterial infection, the antibiotics can cause yeast to develop. Therefore, it is important to add probiotics to the dog’s diet during the antibiotic duration and for several weeks after the medication is finished so the good flora and fauna bacteria is restored in the body.
For mild yeast problems in the ear, sometimes a simple remedy of equal parts of water and white vinegar are effective as an ear wash. Clean the ears daily for a week to relieve this problem. PLEASE REMEMBER: Never flood the dog’s ears with liquid and then leave the liquid in the ears! Liquid put in a dog’s ear daily can cause permanent ear drum damage. It is best to use a small amount and then carefully wipe out any excess. Do check your dog’s ears often and use the white vinegar and water rinse as needed. In the past I have also added aloe vera to this mixture as it helps cool and heal the ear.
This article was excerpted from Lew Olson’s Dog Nutrition newsletter for B-Naturals.com.
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