Yesterday Kim and future Leader Dog puppy in training Kayla, Nala and I went to the mall for some work. We're still clutched very tightly in winter's grip and it seemed that everyone else in the city had the same idea we did; get out and walk in the mall. The place was packed. Kim told me when she picked me up that the food court had been re-arranged and had been outfitted with new tables and chairs. She figured it would be good work for both girls.
We arrived at the mall and begged the girls to relieve quickly. The wind was whipping the snow into tidal waves of cold, wet and painful attacks. They complied and we hurried into the packed building. I don't think they wanted to be outside either.
We did a good circuit of the mall, Kayla working on her loose leash heeling and ignoring distractions. Her biggest distraction was Nala of course, but she tried her very best to ignore, what she considers to be, her friend. Nala's not so convinced yet.
Nala worked well. She was a bit silly, but I think it was because the mall was so busy. She had to work hard to avoid people and obstacles, whereas, usually she has a pretty open path. One such obstacle was a pylon. She walked up to the thing and just stopped with my toes touching it. It was like she was showing me an obstacle that was blocking a sidewalk. She had plenty of room to go around, but she really wanted me to recognise that the pylon was there. I tapped the pylon with my toe and praised her. I asked her to "forward" and she paused for a few seconds, thinking about her options. Then she very confidently went around the pylon and brought me back to Kim and Kayla who were waiting for us on the other side.
Eventually, we ended up in the recently renovated food court with coffee and some lunch. Considering how busy and hence stimulating the place was, both girls settled in nicely. Our usual long winded conversation started and finally Nala interrupted by thrusting her head into my lap. Kayla had started to become restless too and so we thought it was time to move on. As I rubbed Nala's ears as I prepared to leave, a very familiar and unpleasant odour struck my nostrils.
Nala had an ear infection. I was sure.
"She's got an ear infection." I told Kim abruptly interrupting our conversation. "I need Witch Hazel and Tea Tree oil."
With that we were off to the health store where I managed to find a bottle of Witch Hazel, but they were out of Tea Tree oil. As I paid, Kim had to rush off to take a very desperate Kayla out to relieve. It had been a while since her last park and she had had some water. I waited for her outside of the store and when she returned she said we could try another place. We left the mall and went to a smaller store front that had what I needed. The clerk was also helpful by suggesting that I buy a small bottle with a dropper as its top. At first I didn't think I needed it, but after making Nala's ear concoction, I'm glad I bought it.
Ear infections were something that we dealt with with Roscoe until we found a food that didn't cause an allergic reaction. I'm not convinced Nala has food allergies as this is the first ear infection she's had since I got her just over a year ago. Not to mention, she is eating a grain free, fish based food. So, that should, in theory, eliminate any food allergies. She has been out playing in the snow quite a bit though and I think, and hope, that it's just that moisture got trapped in the ear.
Aside from the very definite stink of an ear infection, people can tell if their dogs have an infection if the ear wax is discoloured. In Nala's case, it is nearly black; not good.
So, why did I buy Witch Hazel and Tea Tree Oil?
For me, I'd rather treat a simple ailment with natural means if possible. Often when dogs go to a vet they are given anti-biotics or steroids for an ear infection. Ever since making my own ear cleaning solution, I have been able to avoid going to the vet for ear infections. Obviously though, if the infection persists after treating it naturally, a vet visit is necessary! Natural treatment is good, but sometimes medical intervention is necessary.
As for Nala's current predicament: I wipe the stinky and discoloured glop out of her ear with a dry tissue and then apply the mixture of Witch Hazel, Tea Tree Oil and olive oil into her ear with the dropper. To ensure the mixture stays in the ear, I gently rub the base of the ear with her floppy bit flopped over. She's only had one dose thus far, but it already smells better. The only thing I will say is that if you decide to use a home remedy, make sure you know what the ingredients can do. For example, Tea Tree oil, when ingested, can be toxic to humans and animals; especially cats. It is okay as a topical treatment for dogs, but make sure they can't lick it. If you are unsure, consult a vet or if you'd like to go a homeopathic route, contact a holistic vet.
I'm not really sure why I've just written a giant rant about treating your dog's ears naturally. It was more meant to be a story about Nala's stinky ear, but there you have it. :)