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Extreme cold and canine earaches

Man’s best friend began life as a wild animal and could adjust to their surroundings accordingly in order to survive. While dogs are still quite resilient, their domestication over the years has made dogs more susceptible to the cold weather. They are much more susceptible to sickness and require a boost in nutrition to ward off any impending illnesses.

Q wears his coat and hood in the extreme Chicagoland cold!
Melissa L. Stoneburner

As you are most likely aware, much of the United States is suffering from extremely cold conditions this year. Many modifications are necessary to keep a pet healthy and happy while these conditions continue.

You may notice that the dog does not like being out in weather such as this and hurries back so as to get into the warmth once again. Perhaps you have also noticed that your pooch is acting rather strangely long after he or she has used the outdoor facilities. Perhaps the dog is scratching their ears or shaking their head excessively or rubbing their ears against different surfaces. The ears may appear to be discolored; red with a discharge or a possible unfamiliar odor and are sensitive to the touch. Maybe your dog appears to be more irritable or has other changes in behavior. All of these signs may be your clue that the dog is suffering from an ear infection.

Although you may have noticed that your dog gets ear infections sometimes from allergies, foreign material entering into the ear canal, ear mites or an immune condition (and in the worst of scenarios, a tumor), but did you think that weather could factor into this uncommon canine health issue? Doesn’t it only go to show that dog’s need to be protected from the outside extremes just as we do?

Dogs don’t wear hats, but maybe they should. People cover their ears to keep the wind from blowing in and causing them distress. A dog’s ears are on top of their head and many are susceptible to the elements because they are open and pointy and almost like a receptacle for wind to get trapped in (although dogs with dangly, long ears may still get wind trapped inside, too). Just because a dog is a dog, does not mean that they do not need to be protected – especially when the outside temperatures plummet between negative 20-60 degrees Fahrenheit!

Although ear infections are typical in dogs and easily treated (in most cases), they should be prevented as often as possible! Keep your dog inside as much as possible when the temperatures plummet; cover their ears when you can to keep wind out; keep ear canals cleaned and lubricated; and get regular veterinarian exams and have ears flushed to prevent buildup. Keeping your pet healthy and happy includes keeping their ears protected from the extreme cold that many of us have been experiencing!

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