Summer is upon us and this is certainly the busiest time of the year at my clinic. Despite this economy, pets continue to get into trouble during the summer months. There are a few things that we commonly see in the summer which can be avoided by using some preventative grooming techniques.

One of the most common complaints is ear problems. The summer months bring out the worst in dogs’ ears. I see ear problems nearly every day, and as many of you are aware, cheat grass and foxtail awns (the ones commonly found stuck in your socks) are often the culprit. Below I am going to talk about some simple things that you can do to prevent ear infections, but if you think there is any chance that your dog could have been exposed to these weed seeds you need to have you veterinarian remove them as soon as possible. If these seeds are left untreated for too long they can easily penetrate the ear drum and cause serious problems. Many times ear problems can be avoided by simply keeping your pet’s ear canals clean. The best way to do this is to use a quality ear cleanser such as Nutri-Vet’s Ear Cleanse. Dogs love to swim in the summer, and the ear canal responds to irritants such as water by producing more ear “wax” call cerumen. The cerumen chemistry changes when the ear becomes irritated which promotes the growth of yeast called Mallesezia. This yeast is a normal inhabitant of the ear canal, but it can become a problem if its numbers increase due to a favorable environment created by disease in the ear. D&B Supply carries a product called Ear Cleanse that not only cleans the ear canal, but also leaves behind an acidic residue which prevents the proliferation of yeast organisms. Simply fill your pet’s ear canal with the solution and gently massage the canal below the canal opening. Then, let your dog go outside to shake the solution out. Do not use cotton swabs. The dog’s ear canal is “L” shaped and using swabs may make to vertical ear canal appear clean, but the waxy debris will become impacted in the horizontal canal. Allergies can also increase the production of ear wax and cause the same type of problem. If you find that repeated flushing is not resolving your dog’s ear problems, see a veterinarian to rule out the possibility of an ear foreign body, mites or an underlying allergy problem.

I also see these grass awns frequently becoming imbedded in pets feet. They become entrapped in the fur between the toes, work their way into the skin, and then travel deep into the tissues of the paw. One simple remedy is to purchase a pair of clippers and shave your dog’s feet. D&B Supply carries a variety of clippers that are perfect for the task. I would recommend buying a #10 blade for shaving the feet. Your dog may not be very impressed with your efforts; in some cases we have to sedate dogs to have their feet shaved. The trick is to get your dog used to having their feet handled before you attempt something like foot shaving.

The final product that I would recommend is the Furminator. Removing the dense undercoat that has accumulated over the winter months will keep your dog much more comfortable during the summer. The Furminator is especially effective at cutting through mats and dense undercoat. It is a good idea to repeat this treatment often so that you can be on the lookout for “hotspots”. Hotspots are bacterial infections that can result from matted hair or allergy conditions. Often these areas will be very itchy which will cause your pet to aggressively scratch themselves. This does further damage to the skin and predisposes the skin to bacterial infections. Hotspots will appear as warm, moist, foul-smelling, and often itchy areas on your pet’s skin. I often see them around the neck and the rump. Hotspots may require antibiotic therapy but often shaving the hair and cleaning them with water and a diluted iodine solution will solve the problem. These skin infections can quickly become infested with maggots in the summer–especially on old, debilitated dogs. If this occurs you should seek veterinary attention.

I hope this article helps you address some common summer problems. Your local D&B stores are an excellent source for some simple remedies to these common summer maladies.