NORMAN — Dear Dr. Fox: Do you have a remedy for curing/eliminating ear mites? Does witch hazel work? Is it safe for dogs?
— P.R., Duluth, Minn.
Dear P.R.: This mite, otodectes cynotis, is passed from animal to animal by direct contact. Often there is a cat in the home with no evident symptoms, and a dog in the same home gets the mites in the ears and scratches and shakes in obvious distress. These mites can infest the face and other parts of the body, but are most often confined to the external ear canals. They cause a dark brown or black tarry secretion.
The best treatment is with an insecticide such as ivermectin drops or pyrethrin. I would not use herbal products because effectiveness may not be as good as with insecticidal drugs, especially when there is much suffering to the infested dog. For best results, the ears must be thoroughly cleaned before applying medication. Repeated treatment after seven to 10 days is advisable. Witch hazel is a soothing herb for many skin and ear issues, but it will have no significant impact on the offending mites.
Driving safely with your dog or cat
New Jersey dogs and cats will have to be buckled up for safety just like humans if legislation proposed by Assemblywoman Grace Spencer (D-Essex) is passed. I fully endorse this kind of initiative, with punitive consequences for violators, for every state to adopt.
Pickup truck drivers with loose dogs in the back are my personal abomination, along with drivers whose use of cellphones and other hand-held electronic devices put us all at risk.
Unsecured dogs in the back of pickup trucks, or tied so that they could fall out and hang themselves, are part and parcel of our blighted rural landscape that should, along with puppy mills and dog and cock fighting, be outlawed, with punitive consequences for those who flout the law. Mitt Romney, who tied his dog in a crate to the roof of his car, should be no exception.