Emergency Measures

Disasters And Your Insurance Company

Disasters And Your Insurance Policy

Imagine spending 30 years building up a business to watch it float away during a flood. That’s your livelihood. More than likely, if your business is gone, so is your home.  And it’s happening more and more as climate change impacts weather patterns. Every year, the frequency of “once in a lifetime” storms increases. In 2017, the costs of these storms exceeded $2 billion.

If the disaster has been declared by your state, you may qualify for low cost FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Agency) loans. But they do need to be paid back.  And the paperwork can be daunting.

When the disaster ends is when many business and homeowners owners find out they are either un/underinsured. That’s not the best time to come to that realization.

You could have a talk with your insurance agent, but keep in mind they are sales people. They may or may not be familiar with the limitations of your policy. Look at this way: if you buy a car from a dealership and there is a problem and you go back to the salesman, they redirect you to the company. Nothing they can do because the signed paperwork is what’s binding.

Instead, contact your insurance specialist. This person works for the insurance company, not the agency. As an example, my agency is Governors, but my insurance company is Travelers. I will call Travelers to talk to my specialist. When you speak with this person, have your policy with you. Go over page by page with the specialist. If it’s unclear, clarify it.

Have questions ready such as:

  1. Under what circumstances are you covered?
  2. What is not covered?
  3. What is your deductible?
  4. Are there limits?
  5. How long does business interruption coverage last?

You can make policy changes with the specialist as needed. The better prepared you are, the better your business can withstand a disaster.

Mary is a business, wellness, and safety strategist who specializes in the pet industry. She has contributed to the professional pet industry as a consultant, speaker, writer, and progressive leader. If you are looking for your business to thrive instead of surviving, set up a free Am I A Good Fit For Your Business consultation, visit www.MaryOquendo.com.

Or drop me a message or email her at [email protected]

Pet First Aid Kits

What’s so important about pet first aid kits?

Accidents aren’t planned, they can and do happen. Therefore, preparation is key. The American Animal Hospital Association states that 25% more pets could have been saved if only ONE pet first aid technique was applied before veterinary treatment. That first aid means the difference between life and death, temporary or permanent disability, and a short recuperation or a long recovery. A pet first aid kit plays a vital role.

I recommend taking the time putting your own kit together. If you choose to buy a pre-packaged kit, verify the contents suit your needs. In addition, replace items when used and check expiration dates on a regular basis.

What’s in my kit? 

I keep the contents in a large, denim Tinkerbell bag. Aside from Tink being the “bomb”, the bag is convenient to move from location to location. Other options include fishing (tackle) and craft boxes, which have plenty of compartments for storage. Suggested items are listed by category. There is some overlap between categories.


  1. Adhesive tape.
  2. Gauze pads.
  3. Gauze rolls.
  4. Vet wrap.
  5. Cotton roll. This is used for head and large area wounds.
  6. Non-stick gauze.
  7. Antibiotic cream.Avoid the use of triple antibiotic if you have cats. While the combination of the three ingredients is a rare allergy, for those cats that are allergic, it is fatal.
  8. Sanitary napkins. They are used to soak up excess blood. 
  9. Bandanas/triangular bandages. They can be used for splinting fractures and covering wounds. In addition, they can be used to aid a dog in walking by taking the pressure off of an injured limb.
  10. Paint stirrers can be used for splinting.
  11. Sealed sterile saline solution for flushing wounds. An unsealed bottle is no longer sterile. Unlike water, slaine solution maintains the cellualr salt balance resulting in faster healing.
  12. 2% chlorohexidine wound rinse can also be used to flush to out wounds. The 2% is important. Less than that is not effective and more can cause cellular damage. I no longer use alcohol or hydrogen peroxide to flush wounds, as alcohol stings and hydrogen peroxide damages cellular tissue. In addition, both will slow healing. Cats cannot metabolize either alcohol or hydrogen peroxide as well. It is commonly found in most first aid aisles of supermarkets and deparment stores.
  13. Nexaband or liquid bandage. Your veterinarian can demonstrate the right way to use this product. It is important that the wound is properly cleaned and dried first. If used improperly, it can damage skin and seal in bacteria. Never use on bite wounds. Superglue is not a replacement. Superglue is not labeled for medical use and as such, does not need to use medically safe ingredients.
  14. Expired plastic gift cards are the right size for paw injuries. Cushion them with extra gauze to protect the pad.
  15. Tea bags. They contain tannic acid which helps to clot bleeding injuries.
  16. Hemastop. I prefer this over styptic powder because it does not sting. 


  1. Premeasured dose of LIQUID gel antihistamine as determined by your vet. The brand name is not important, only that the center is liquid.
  2. Safety pin.

The safety pin is used to puncture a hole in the liquid gel. It is then squirted onto the tongue of the pet. This is the easiest and most effective way to administer an antihistamine.

  1. Plastic card for flicking out bee stingers. Do not tweeze them out as you only inject more venom into the pet. Place the card under the stinger and lift up and out.


  1. Chemical cold pack or instant cold gel wrap. They can be placed against pressure points to aid in cooling the pet.
  2. Rubbing alcohol can be squirted onto the pads. As this can cause alcohol poisoning, talk to emergency veterinary personnel first and do not use on cats.


  1. Poison Control Center’s phone number is 888-426-4435.

 DO NOT ASSUME YOU SHOULD INDUCE VOMITING! Different poisons call for different protocols. What will help one situation will cause harm in another.

  1. Hydrogen peroxide to induce vomiting. This is not safe for cats. 
  2. Activated charcoal to absorb poison.
  3. Baking soda to absorb topical caustic material.
  4. Squirt bottle to administer treatment.
  5. Plastic baggie/latex gloves for vomit or stool sample.


  1. Sterile solution for 1st and 2nd degree burns. DO NOT RINSE 3rd DEGREE BURNS. 3rd degree burns are characterized by the burn going  through the full thickness of the skin.
  2. Bandana/gauze to cover burns.


       1. Small flashlight with spare battery to check throat for debris.

       2. Plastic baggies/latex gloves for debris sample. 


  1. Emergency muzzle.

If your kit is needed, your pet is probably in pain. Any pet in pain or being moved into pain can and will bite.

  1. Digital thermometer and petroleum jelly. They will thank you later.
  2. Blunt tip scissors.
  3. Tweezers.
  4. Eye dropper.
  5. Eye wash.
  6. Honey packets for hypoglycemic dogs.
  7. Survivor blanket will help keep pet warm due to shock in cold weather ONLY.  It should not be used in warm weather. 
  8. Glow sticks can be used to illuminate most common strains of ringworm. However, keep in mind this is not a full-proof diagnostic tool. 
  9. Smart Water or unflavored Pedialyte will help to re-hydrate stressed pets. Pedialyte must be unflavored because the other varieties contain artificial sweeteners.
  10. Photos of me WITH my dogs. The photo will establish ownership should I become separated from my dog(s) while hiking or traveling.
  11. Latex gloves to protect from zoonotics.
  12. Constricting band. I live in an area with poisonous snakes. If the bite occurs on an extremity, then place the constricting band after the wound. It will help to slow down the venom. Remove any collars from the pet. Intense body swelling can occur.

These items are in my kit because they suit my needs. Your kit should suit your needs. 

Emergency And Disaster Planning Part 1

The days are gone where we can assume that emergencies and disasters happen someplace else. Weather patterns have changed dramatically over the last several years. Large cities built on fault lines are growing. We are overdeveloping land, which reduces or even eliminates natural protective barriers. Our interstate highway systems are transportation routes carrying toxic chemicals through heavily populated areas. All of these things add up to one fact; we should all be prepared for emergencies.


An emergency is an unplanned crisis.


An emergency can be any situation ranging from a local building fire to a large-scale natural disaster, and everything in between. Government response may be limited as well as taxed quickly. A disaster is often referred to as an event. It is a fact that those who prepare for such emergency events fare better than those who do not.



Be Proactive and Prepare!


There are many ways to help prepare you and your staff:


  1. Education- Take both a pet and human first aid class every two years to stay current with evolving protocols. I highly recommend the Community Emergency Response Training (C.E.R.T.) It is a free 20-hour program that is funded by out tax dollars and trains you for all types of emergencies. Either Emergency Management or Fire Department personnel teach this workshop. In addition, there are classes in emergency preparedness that may be offered through local continuing education and at trade shows. I taught such a class at the Atlanta Pet Fair.
  2. Emergency Management Office- Many municipalities have an office and it is a wealth of information. This office offers CERT training and information on where to take first aid classes. In addition, you can ascertain the location of both the emergency people and pet shelters. If your local government accepts federal aid money, this office MUST include pets in their written Plan Of Action. This is the bright spot of Hurricane Katrina. The Pet Evacuation and Transportation Standard of 2006 was signed because they found first responders were re-rescuing the same people going back into a danger zone for their pets. The standard states that in order to receive federal disaster aid money, the must provide shelter for pets. Over 600,000 animals were confirmed dead or missing during Hurricane Katrina. Several months later during Hurricane Gustav, over 2,500 pets were taken to shelters. All 2,500 pets went back home. This office also has information on your regional State Animal Response Team, also known as SART.
  3. SART- Each state has a team since the federal government mandates it. It is made up of volunteers who have the same status as first responders. First responders are Emergency Management Services (EMS), police, fire, and military. SART’s responsibility is to attend and rescue any animals impacted by an event.
  4. Fire Department- They may offer the C.E.R.T. program. During non-emergencies, the fire department will come to your home or place of business to show you how to turn off your electric and gas. Turning off the utilities can prevent further structural damage. Do not turn gas back on until a representative from the gas utility has inspected the lines first.
  5. Plan Of Action- This is a written procedure detailing protocols for emergencies. It should be a part of your shop manual. It should include the following:
    1. Kits- Part II of this series will detail the various kits and supplies.
    2. Owner Waivers- You may have clients that are unable to pick up their pets. A waiver could read, “ In the event of inclement weather or natural disaster, (Your Business Name) is entrusted to use best judgment in caring for my pet. (Your Business Name) will not be held liable for consequences related to such decisions.”
    3. Pet Plan- You may have to evacuate clients to the pet shelter. Do you have the means to quickly and securely load pets into a vehicle for transportation. On the flip side, are you prepared for grooming clients to become boarding clients?
    4. Federal Emergency Management Agency- They are also known as FEMA. The website is www.fema.gov. This website has instructions for specific events, information on kits, and what to do afterwards. In addition, they have an app for smart phones, and offer online classes.


Taking the time to prepare beforehand helps combats the 3 F’s of physiological response to emergencies. The 3F’s are:

  1. Flight is the desire to run. There is no thought to where or what supplies might be necessary. It is panic.
  2. Freeze is where you cannot make a decision. You are stuck in neutral.
  3. Fighters stay put, even though it is safer to leave.


Preparing for emergencies gives you the tools to think clearly, and therefore more effectively. It is planning a route and taking the supplies you have already gathered. It allows you to make decisions because you have ready-made plans. Given the facts, you can make an intelligent decision to leave or stay. It is why first responders continually practice schedule drills and update protocols. And so should you.


Part II will detail various kits necessary for preparedness.

 This article originally appeared in The February 2014 Groomer To Groomer magazine and is reprinted with permission. 






Emergency And Disaster Planning With Pets

The last year or so has been pretty rough for many of us. Hurricane Sandy, the tornados in Oklahoma, the flooding in Canada to start.

Why is it important to take your pets with you during an evacuation? If it’s not safe for you, then it’s not safe for them. Additionally, there is no guarantee you can go home in a couple of hours. It was several weeks before the residents displaced by Hurricane Katrina were able to come home. During that time more than 8,000 animals were rescued, but 600,000 are still missing or confirmed dead. 

If you look hard enough, you can find a silver lining in any circumstance. Hurricane Katrina’s silver lining is The Pet Evacuation and Transportation Standard of 2006. It requires that any State and Local Government receiving Stafford Act Homeland Security funding include household pet evacuation planning in their Emergency Operation Plan. FEMA acknowledged that it would serve the population well to have STRUCTURED animal rescue along with human rescue. Planning for pet evacuation will expedite the evacuation of people.  Statistics show that pets are the main reason people return home while it is still unsafe. This also places first responders at risk as they re-rescue the same people. Each state is issued a charter to develop an animal response team. It is largely made up of volunteers. 

People who plan for an emergency fare better than those who don’t. The best plan is to PLAN to be far away.

Plan a four directional driving route. Plan each direction 100 miles out. It won’t help to only plan a northern route if the evacuation order is to go south. Know where the pet-friendly hotels are along each route. Calling ahead will secure your reservation. 

If family members evacuate separately, designate a meeting place or have an out of area contact for everyone to check in with. In addition, you can set up a buddy system with a trusted neighbor or friend. If one is out of the area, the other can evacuate all the pets. Please check on elderly or housebound neighbors before you leave.

Turn off your utilities: gas, water and electric. As long as it is not during an evacuation, your local fire department can show you how to do it. If you have time, secure your home. 

To evacuate quickly, it’s important to have prepared kits ready to go.

Keep some old blankets, flashlight with extra batteries or glow sticks, energy bars, bottled water and a first aid kit in your car always.  Keep your gas tank full. 


  1. Constricting bands. Local wildlife, including venomous snakes may be displaced. They will pose a hazard. 
  2. Honey packets or canned frosting if anyone is diabetic. This is a lighted collar. It makes it easy to see your pet in the dark.
  3. Liquid cap antihistamine and a safety pin. In case of severe allergic reaction, you would pierce the liquid cap and squirt it directly onto a tongue.
  4. HeadLites (http://www.head-lites.com/). This is a lighted collar for your pets. It will make it easier to see them at night.
  5. Baking soda, hydrogen peroxide, activated charcoal along with poison control’s number for both people and pets.
  6. Sterile eyewash. Used to clean out eyes and injuries.
  7. Hydrogen peroxide to clean out animal bites.
  8. Rubbing alcohol, gauze, vet wrap, band-aids and antibiotic ointment.
  9. Plastic card to flick out bee stingers.
  10. Bandanas for limb injuries.
  11. Muzzles. A pet in pain will bite. 


  1. Emergency Contact Card. List current phone numbers as well as an out of area contact. Phone lines and other means of communication can be affected by a disaster. If you become separated from your pets, your out of area contact may be the only way you are reunited with your loved ones. This card can also have a signed consent to treat in your absence.
  2. An extra set of collars and leashes. A well-identified pet has a better chance of returning home. Tags need to be secure and readable. Tags though can become lost. Microchips and tattoos are better, but only if you keep the registration current. 
  3. Health record. Your veterinarian will issue one upon request. It contains general information and vaccine history. Copies of diagnostic tests, results and prescription information are recommended for pets with chronic health conditions. It will allow your pet immediate treatment with an unfamiliar vet.
  4. Two weeks supply of medication. Watch expiration dates. Veterinary medications may be hard to come by in a disaster. In any emergency situation, the protocol is “people over pets.” Veterinary medications may be commandeered from vet hospitals for use for people. Certain medications, such as insulin need refrigeration. Cold bags are available at most supermarkets.
  5. A laminated photo of you with your pets. This photo establishes clear ownership.
  6. Foot protection. If there is ground contamination, they prevent absorption of toxic materials through your pets’ pads.
  7. A week’s supply of food. Watch expiration dates. Like medications, pet food may be hard to come by. It is a stressful event and changing their food may cause stomach distress.
  8. Bottled smart water or unflavored Pedialyte.  Replacing lost electrolytes due to stress can prevent shock.
  9. Collapsible food and water dishes.
  10. Sanitation and cleaning supplies. This includes waterless sanitizers, paper towels, poop bags for dogs and a litter pan for cats. Any lid can be a litter pan.
  11. Something with the “smell of home” on it. A toy, unwashed pillow or blanket. It will give your pet comfort.
  12. A plastic molded travel crate for each pet. Practice loading your pets into them.


  1. Nonperishable food.
  2. Bottled water.
  3. Dust masks.
  4. Maps or GPS.
  5. Manual can opener.
  6. Plain bleach and medicine dropper. To disinfect: nine parts water to one part bleach. To treat drinking water: 16 drops per gallon of water, let sit for 30 minutes.
  7. Prescriptions and glasses.
  8. Cash.
  9. Any important documents such as birth certificates or passports.
  10. Blankets and weather appropriate clothing.
  11. Battery operated radio.
  12. Glow sticks.
  13. Anything that is specific to your needs such as baby supplies.

Take a pet and human first aid class. These are perishable skills. You need to take these classes every two years. To find a pet first aid instructor, go to www.pettech.net. To find a human first aid instructor, inquire at your local hospital or local fire department.

The best plan for any disaster is to PLAN to be far away from it. Material items can be replaced, a life cannot. If the order to evacuate is given, go and take your pets with you. Friends don’t leave friends behind.

If you cannot leave the area, do you know where the designated people and pet shelters are? Every locality has an Emergency Management Office. Contact them before an emergency arises.

What Is Bloat?

You’ve just come back from that fun lunch with your co-workers; too bad lunch break is so short. You rushed to finish your meal. Now you are standing in front of the grooming table and suddenly you feel funny. You cannot sit, or stand still, and neither can you lie down. You start to pace. Something’s wrong, only you don’t know what. You run over to the bathroom to throw up. Could it be food poisoning from that all you can eat salad bar? But nothing’s coming up from that end except for some foamy stuff. You’re drawing a blank at the other end too. You look at yourself in the bathroom mirror and notice your gums are bright red. Your stomach now feels rock hard. It hurts! You just want to go curl up in a ball and hide somewhere.  The other groomers are looking at you and wondering what’s up with you.

An hour or so later, your mouth feels cold and when you check it out in the bathroom mirror, your gums are now blue. You feel weak. Your heart is racing. You collapse and your co-workers call 911, but it’s too late. You just died.

That’s what bloat does to a dog.




Bloat or Torsion or Gastric Dilatation-Volvulus (GDV) is when the stomach of a dog twists on itself, cutting off the esophagus at one end and all the organs south of the stomach at the other end. There is no longer blood flow to any of the organs, which caused them to shut down. Toxins and gas build up in the stomach. Shock occurs quickly and the stomach may rupture. If it ruptures, it causes peristalsis. Peristalsis is an inflammation of the membrane that lines the stomach. On its own, peristalsis is life threatening.

Large or giant dog with deep chests are most at risk. Dogs with narrow chests are more at risk than those that are wider. The most commonly affected breeds are Airedales, Akitas, Malamutes, Bassett Hounds, Bernese Mt. Dogs, Bouviers, Boxers, Mastiffs, Chesapeake Bay Retreivers, Labrador, and Golden Retrievers, Collies, Dobermans, Springers, Gordon and Irish Setters, German Shepherds, Pointers, Great Pyrenees, Wolfhounds, Poodles, Newfoundlands, Old English Sheepdogs, Rottweilers, Samoyeds, St. Bernards, and Weimaraners.

But, that’s not to say small dogs with deep chests aren’t vulnerable. Dachshunds, Pekinese, and Miniature Poodles have been known to bloat.




There are three categories of causes: genetics, anatomy, and environment. The first is genetics. There are those breeds that are pre-disposed, especially if a close family member has bloated or has untreated Exocrine Pancreatic Insufficiency. The second is anatomy. Dogs with the highest risk tend to be older, are predominately male, mainly underweight, and have deep chests. And lastly are environmental factors.  Dogs that drink or eat fast and excessively especially in combination with activity are most susceptible.  Stress, such as a dog may experience at the groomers can escalate a dog already pre-disposed to bloat.

One, all, or a combination of any the factors can induce bloat.




The signs will vary from dog to dog, but include:


  1. Many attempts to unproductively vomit. It could be foamy or full of mucous. They may drool. - The esophagus is blocked off.
  2. They are not their usual self and are restless and anxious. They are pacing and whining. - They know something is wrong.
  3. They cannot sit or lie down.  - Their stomach is distended.
  4. They hunch up their backs. - They are trying to relieve some of the internal pressure.
  5. Their stomach is hard and distended. - It is filling up with gas and toxins.
  6. Their gums will go from bright red (shock) to pale blue (hypoxic) and their gums will feel cold.
  7. They try, unsuccessfully; to defecate. - Everything south of the stomach is blocked off.
  8. They lick the air. - Dogs lick the air when they are trying to get rid of something internally.
  9. They try to hide. - Instinct, when dogs are dying, it is a natural response to go off by themselves.

10. They glance over at their side or stomach.  - This is where the pain is.

11. They go from heavy panting to shallow breathing.  - The organs are shutting down.

12. They look weak and have a weak pulse.  - No blood flow. Heart is shutting down.

13. Collapse. - Organs have shut down. Death will follow shortly.





Contact your veterinarian first and then transport immediately. Do not try to treat this on your own unless your veterinarian has trained you. Time is of the essence here. Death can occur in a couple of hours. During my research, Mylanta was mentioned as a way to buy time. I questioned my vet about this and her response was “ Using Mylanta on a bloating dog is like putting a band aid on a chainsaw injury. Use your time more effectively by calling us so we can prepare for your arrival.”


Being familiar with the causes, recognizing the early signs, along with prompt veterinarian treatment is your best defense against bloat.


This article originally appeared in the March 2012 issue of Groomer To Groomer and is reprinted with permission.









Oh No! Where's Fluffy? Part Two

In part one; http://groomwise.typepad.com/pet_first_aid_care/2011/06/oh-no-wheres-fluffy-part-one.html , I discussed the importance of identification for pets. In part two, I'll cover what to do in the event your pet is missing.

But first, make sure he's really lost. Check behind and under furniture; especially recliners, appliances, mattresses, and access panels. If it's your cat that's missing, also check the attic and nearby trees. When you determine that your pet is no where to be found, you want as many eyes as possible looking for him. You have many options available to you, including for hire services.

Start with contacting as many establishments and agencies as possible within a 60 mile radius. How far your pet travels depends on its size and health. A medium sized, healthy dog can travel as much as 5 miles in one day. In a week, he could conceivably travel 35 miles. Establishments and agencies being animal shelters; both private and public, veterinarians, pet stores, grooming shops, and rescue groups.

Here is where the services shine. They are equipped to get the word out fast and to many. 

Services include:

1. Your microchip company. Keeping a current photo on file before your pet is lost will save time. We've all seen the wall of lost pets at our vet's office. Which ones do you pay attention to? The generic or the actual photo of the missing pet. If your pet is not microchipped, he should be. The two biggest microchip companies are www.homeagain.com and www.avidplc.com.

2. Blanket ID. This is a new company. You purchase a tag, register it, upload a photo and design a lost pet poster before it's needed. The first year is free. Their website is www.blanketid.com.

You can download and print lost posters from both the microchip company and Blanket ID.

3. Phone services; such as www.amberpetalert.com, www.lostmydoggie.com, and www.findtoto.com, call every business and residence within a radius of your lost pet. You never know whose backyard your pet is passing through.

4. There are phone apps such as one from www.pettech.net that are capable of alerting area vets and shelters.

But, there is a limit to what the services can do. The rest is up to you. 

1. Get those posters out into the community. The grocery store, community centers, dog parks, telephone poles in high walking traffic areas, and at traffic intersections. If you place them at intersections, make sure the lettering is big enough to read while waiting at a red light. Don't forget to put some at children's eye level. They can be more observant than adults when it comes to animals. Make sure you put two phone numbers, with at least one being a cell. You don't want someone to call with a sighting on you home phone while you are out looking for him. If you live in a bi-lingual area, add contact info in that language. Offering a reward gives people who wouldn't normally be on the lookout an incentive.

2. Talk to people who are on the road all day. Mailmen, lawn services, Fedex, UPS, mobile groomers, and pet sitters. Give them a poster to keep in their vehicles. 

3. Leave an outgoing message on your voicemail requesting date, time, and location of any sightings. Be aware that when you put your phone number out there, there is a possibility of scammers preying on your hope. 

4. Place something with his scent; such as bedding or a toy, along with food and water outside. Their sense of smell is greater than ours. If they are close enough, it may be enough to guide them home. 

5. Search for your pet when the streets are quiet. Early morning and late evenings are best. Too much traffic noise may hinder their ability to hear you. Bring a favorite toy or treat when you do.

6. Contact the Department of Transportation. It is an unfortunate fact that your pet may have been hit by a car. It's their job to remove the bodies and they do keep records. 


Above all, do not give up. They are waiting for you to find them.


DOG ears are a precise, complex, fine-tuned organic instrument. The School of Veterinary Medicine at Louisiana State University did a study on frequency ranges of animal hearing. They found that dogs can hear in the 45 KHz range. By comparison, humans can hear in the 23 KHz range. In addition, dogs hearing range exceeds four times the distance than ours. They can actually pinpoint the exact location of the sound. 

 THE ear canal is L-shaped. It goes straight down and then turns into a right angle toward the brain. Past that turn is the ear drum. There are three parts; the external, middle and inner ear. 

THE external ear is the visible part on the outside of the head and the canal. The position or set is classified into four groups.

  1. Close. The ears are near each other.
  2. Wide. The ears are further apart.
  3. High. The ears are above the eyes.
  4. Low. The ears are below the eyes.

There are six different shapes.

  1. Bat. The ears are blunt shaped with rounded tips. Boston Terriers have bat-shaped ears.
  2. Rose. The ears fold back from the head. Bulldogs have rose-shaped ears.
  3. Tulip. The ears are upright and the edge curves forward. Shelties have tulip-shaped ears.
  4. Heart. The ears are wider at the base than at the tip. Poodles have heart-shaped ears.
  5. V. The ears are long and triangular. Basset Hounds have V-shaped ears.
  6. Triangular. The ears are pointed and upright. German Shepherds have triangular-shaped ears.

Most ear problems are found in the external ear.

THE middle ear is filled with air. It contains the ear drum, mallet, anvil and stirrup. These transmit sounds to the inner ear. Problems here can affect balance.

THE inner ear is filled with fluid. Sound changes from airwaves to the nerve impulses, then onward to the brain. It contains the temporal bone, Organ of Corti and the eight cranial nerve. Problems here can result in deafness, facial paralysis and balance issues. 

A healthy ear is pink on the inside with no odor or discharge and no exterior hair loss. Like any fine-tuned instrument, there are a host of issues that affect its precision. 

  1. Allergy Otitis. It is the most common cause of recurrent ear infections. The usual culprits are food, environmental, mold or dust allergens. The ears are itchy and inflamed and are usually accompanied by itchy paws. Additionally, there may be an odor or black, gunky discharge.
  2. Tick, flea, fly and mosquito bites as well as mites and demodex can cause ear pain, itching, swelling, hair loss and crusty skin.
  3. Foreign bodies, such as foxtails, cotton balls, ingrown hairs, cysts and resin powder (used to pull ear hair) can become infected. You may see the obstruction with a flashlight, but do not probe. You will only make the problem worse.
  4. Due to the warm moist environment, floppy-eared dogs are prone to staph, yeast and bacterial infections. I shave the inside of the ear of those dogs that are prone to recurrent ear infections. The ears may feel warm to the touch, their head may tilt in addition to a discharge and odor. While rare, an ear infection can spread internally or cause peripheral vestibular syndrome. 
  5. Water in the ears can set up the environment for a yeast or bacterial infection. Water can enter the ear canal from bathing or swimming. You should clean out wet ears with a good quality ear cleaner. 
  6. Externally, cancer may appear as dark, scaly or hairless patches.
  7. Hormonal disorders such as diabetes, thyroid or Cushings can cause hair loss and itchy red skin.
  8. Psoriasis-like crusting along the ear margins; in itself is not bad, generally points to an underlying medical condition. The list includes skin calcifications due to Cushings, sarcoptic mange, seborrheic ear margin dermatitis, vascular and other hormonal disorders.
  9. The high velocity dryer can blow out an eardrum. It is best to protect the ears with a Happy Hoodie when using this dryer.
  10. Puncture wounds need treatment BEFORE they close up. If allowed to close, the trapped bacteria will cause an infection or sepsis (blood infection).
  11. Hematomas are caused by trauma, vigorous head shaking or immune-related disorders. The dog has swollen, squishy-feeling ear flaps. They can burst open if left untreated.    
  12. Wounds caused by playing, scissors or other grooming equipment. Cuts along the ear margins have a harder time healing. I don’t recommend styptic powder; it burns on contact.

BOTH hematomas and wounds can bleed profusely. Ricky and Dr. James Schachtel will demonstrate how to wrap an ear injury before transport to the vet.

FIRST assemble the contents needed from your first aid kit. You will need a nonstick bandage, antibiotic cream, 0.2% chlorohexidine rinse, vet wrap, cotton roll and gauze pads. Clean the wound with the 0.2% chlorohexidine rinse and pat dry.


 PLACE a non-stick gauze pad with antibiotic cream over the wound area. Lay injured ear over the top of the head.


 Add gauze on both sides of wound and apply pressure for 3-5 minutes. 


Take the cotton roll and begin to wrap the ear to the top of the head.SDC10988

 Wrap under the jaw and on both sides of the uninjured ear. This will prevent the wrap from falling off.


Cover cotton roll with vet wrap. 


Place a cone around the head to prevent the pet from removing the bandages.


Bring him to the vet.

AS you can see, there are many issues affecting the ears. Proper diagnosis by a veterinarian is critical for treatment and recovery.

It is with great appreciation to Dr. James Schachtel and VCA Northside Animal Hospital in Danbury, CT for their assistance in writing this article. Please visit them at www.northsidect.com. 

What Is The One Phone Number That Could Save The Life Of your Pet?

It Is 888-426-4435 and it is the number to the ASPCA's Animal Poison Control Center. They are available 24/7/365. The center, through specially trained veterinary toxicologists; provides diagnostic and treatment recommendations in the event of your pet's exposure to hazardous substances. These veterinary toxicologists have at their disposal an extensive collection of scientific journals, books, databases and case histories not available to everyone else. The center is funded by grants, gifts, corporate sponsorships and your user fee. It is currently $60 and in the case of a poisoning, it will be the best $60 you can spend on your pet. Last year, they fielded over 116,000 calls

Death by poisoning is one of the more preventable accidents of dogs and cats, dogs being far more likely than cats to be poisoned. It is usually caused by careless handling and storage of toxic substances or by allowing access to areas where toxic substances can be ingested, inhaled, absorbed or injected.

The Animal Poison Control Center has issued a list of top 10 household product categories that have been called in:

1.Human Medications. People medications and pet medications are not formulated the same even though they may have the same manufacturer and prescription name. People medications are generally dosed for symptoms and pet medications for weight. Two frequently used pain medications for people are acetaminophen; which is deadly to cats,and ibuprofen; which causes kidney damage in dogs.

2.Insecticides. There were 27,000 calls alone for topical flea and tick products.

3.Veterinary Medications. This includes vaccines. In addition, there have been cases of dogs chewing the lids off of anti-inflammatory medications and consuming the entire contents. My own dog did this and in 2000 it cost me $1800 at my vet.

4.Plants. On the ASPCA's website, www.aspca.org ;there is a list of common toxic household plants. While you are there, you can request a free refrigerator magnet. You will always have this important number handy.

5.Household Cleaners. Improperly stored bleach,detergents and disinfectants.

6. Rodenticides. These are usually baited with something tasty like peanut butter.

7. Chocolate.

8. Chemical Hazards.This includes anti-freeze, which cleans up easily with soap and water.

9. Physical Hazards. The ingestion of objects causing choking or intestional obstruction. You should provide appropriate treats and toys for your pets. You should always monitor play and treat time.

10. Home Improvement Products. This includes paints and glues.

Signs of poisoning include vomiting, diarrhea, excessive salivation, breathing difficulties, excitability, loss of consciousness and seizures. In the event of a poisoning, it is paramount that you remain calm. The more excited you are, the more excitable your pet is, the higher the heart rate, the faster the poison is going through their system. The center or your vet is going to want to know what the suspected substance is.There are different protocols for different substances. What helps in one situation, may cause harm in another. They also want to know how much was ingested and for how long. They may ask if a vomit or stool sample is available. This may tell them what the suspected substance is if you are unsure of what it is. YOU ONLY INDUCE VOMITING IF INSTRUCTED BY THE CENTER OR YOUR VETERINARIAN.

Always make that life saving phone call first, before you take your pet to the hospital. In the time it takes to get to the hospital, it may be too late.