For your convenience, the Animal Hospital of Northwood is now offering drop off appointments! This will allow you to bring your pet in, speak with one of our staff members and then schedule a pick up later in the day.

This works great for not having to call off work but your pet doesn’t have to wait either! You can take advantage of this service for your pet’s routine care or for a sudden sick visit! A fee of $17.50 reserves a condo for your pet to stay for the day (pets picked up prior to close), and monitoring by our staff. We can administer medication and we will feed (if applicable) and walk dogs during the day.

Prior to dropping your pet off, we ask that you fill out a drop off exam questionnaire form for sick pets or the annual drop off form for wellness visits. We accept drop-offs between 8 am and 10 am Monday- Friday.
For pet emergencies, we have urgent care appointments.

The Animal Hospital of Northwood is accepting new patients from the Safety Harbor, Clearwater, Dunedin, Palm Harbor, and Oldsmar area. We would be happy to help your pet.

Ear Infections FAQ

How common are ear infections in dogs?

Infection of the external ear canal (outer ear) is one of the most common types of infections seen in dogs. It is called otitis externa. Some breeds, particularly those with large or hairy ears like Cocker Spaniels, Miniature Poodles or Old English Sheepdogs, are more prone to ear infections, but they may occur in any breed.

What are the symptoms of an ear infection?

Ear infections are painful. Many dogs will shake their head and scratch their ears trying to get the debris and fluid out. The ears often become red and inflamed and develop an offensive odor. A black or yellowish discharge commonly occurs.

Don’t these symptoms usually suggest ear mites?

Ear mites are extremely uncommon in adult cats and dogs. Ear mites can cause several of these symptoms, including a black discharge, scratching, and head shaking. However, ear mite infections occur most commonly in puppies. Adult dogs may contract ear mites from puppies who are infected. Ear mites will create an environment within the ear canal which leads to a secondary bacterial and yeast (fungus) infection.

Since these symptoms are similar and usually mean an infection, can’t I just get some ear medication?

There are several kinds of bacteria and at least one type of fungus which commonly causes ear infections. Without knowing the kind of infection present, we do not know which medication to use. In some cases, the ear infection may be caused by a foreign body or tumor in the ear canal. Treatment with medication alone will not resolve these problems. It is important that your dog be examined to ensure that the eardrum is intact. Administration of certain medications can result in loss of hearing if the eardrum is ruptured. This can only be detected by a thorough ear examination by your veterinarian.

How do you know which drug to use?

First, the ear canal is examined with an otoscope, an instrument that provides magnification and light. This examination allows us to determine whether the eardrum is intact and if there is any foreign material in the canal. When a dog is in extreme pain and refuses to allow the examination, it may be necessary to sedate or anesthetize the dog for a thorough examination.

The next step is to examine a sample of the material from the ear canal under a microscope to determine the type of organism causing the infection. This is an “ear cytology”. Microscopic examination is important in helping the veterinarian choose the right medication to treat the inflamed ear canal. Culture and sensitivity tests are often used in severe or chronic ear infections to test for organisms that are resistant to antibiotics.

How are ear infections treated?

The results of the otoscopic and microscopic examination usually determine the diagnosis and course of treatment. If there is a foreign body or parasite lodged in the ear canal, the dog is sedated for removal. Some dogs must be sedated to allow a thorough ear flushing and cleaning. Cytologic study of debris from the ear canal determines which drug to use. Many dogs will have more than one type of ear infection present (i.e., a bacterium and a fungus, or two kinds of bacteria). This situation usually requires the use of multiple medications or broad-spectrum medication.

An important part of the evaluation of the patient is the identification of the underlying disease. Many dogs with chronic or recurrent ear infections have allergies or low thyroid function (hypothyroidism). If an underlying disease is suspected, it must be diagnosed and treated or the pet will continue to experience chronic ear problems.

What is the prognosis?

Nearly all ear infections that are properly diagnosed and treated can be cured. However, if an underlying cause remains unidentified and untreated, the outcome will be less favorable. Several examinations may be needed before the process is complete and we can expect ultimate success.

How important is it to treat an ear infection?

Dogs with ear infections are miserable. Their ears are a source of constant pain resulting in head shaking and scratching. Head shaking and scratching can also cause broken blood vessels in the ear flap called an ear hematoma, which requires surgery. Chronic ear infections can penetrate the eardrum and result in an internal ear infection and permanent hearing loss.

My dog’s ear canal is nearly closed. Is that a problem?

Closing of the ear canal is another result of a chronic ear infection. This is known as hyperplasia. There are medications that can shrink the swollen tissues and open the canal in some dogs. Severe cases of hyperplasia will eventually require surgery.

The ears of dogs and cats are more vulnerable to our Florida climate than our human ears; pets with floppy or hairy ears have reduced airflow which leads to a warm, moist environment that encourages the growth of yeast and bacteria. The ears of dogs and cats are considered part of the skin system. The skin/ears of our pets are commonly affected by allergens that cause infections. Over the counter ear, mite medication will not get rid of these types of infections.

If you think your pet has symptoms of an ear infection, we have a variety of appointment types to accommodate your schedule. The Animal Hospital of Northwood is accepting new patients from the Safety Harbor, Clearwater, Dunedin, Palm Harbor, and Oldsmar area. We would be happy to help your pet.

FAQs About Eyes

How do I know if my pet has an eye problem?

The signs that your pet has an eye issue may include squinting, or rubbing at the eye, redness to the white part of the eye, cloudiness to the center of the eye, excess tearing or discharge build up around the eye. These symptoms are indicators that the eye may need to be examined.

If the eyes are red can that just be from allergies?

Allergies can cause red eyes, but also infection, elevated pressure inside the eye, irritants such as dust or shampoo, or abnormalities associated with eyelids or tear production can all make the eye red. Only your veterinarian can determine the severity of the problem and find the cause.

Since these symptoms are similar, can’t I just get some eye medication?

Without knowing exactly what parts of the eye are affected, we do not know which medication to use without an examination. In some cases, an eye infection may be caused by a foreign body or ulcer to the surface of the eye. Sometimes treatment with medication alone will not resolve these problems. It is important that your pet be examined to diagnose the problem and be able to assess a starting point so that follow-up examinations can tell us if issues are resolving. Also your pet may not complain until the problem has gotten severe, so any abnormalities should be discussed with your veterinarian.

How do you know which medication to use?

First, the eye is examined with an ophthalmoscope, an instrument that provides magnification and light. This examination allows us to evaluate eyelids for abnormalities such as abnormally placed eyelashes, or defects in the surface of the eye called the cornea.

The next steps involve a baseline of tests we need to make a diagnosis:

  1. Schirmer Tear Test: this test determines if tear production is adequate
  2. Fluorescein Stain: this test makes sure the cornea is intact without breaks or ulcers.
  3. Tonometry (Eye pressure test): this test can diagnose glaucoma (high pressure) or uveitis (low pressure)

How are eye problems treated?

Eye drops will be necessary to treat eye issues. The type of the eye drops will vary based on the problem diagnosed. Any infection involving eyelids or other supporting structures around the eye may require oral medication as well.

The use of a rigid Elizabethan Collar (E-collar/lamp shade collar/Cone) is essential to prevent any further eye damage. Though it may be difficult to see your pet wearing a collar, this simple device can mean the difference between the eye healing quickly or degenerating rapidly.

In complicated cases of non-healing ulcers a veterinary ophthalmologist/specialist may be required to perform advanced surgeries.

What are some common eye problems:

Dry Eye or KCS (Keratoconjunctivitis Sicca) – This condition is due to lack of adequate tear production. Signs include red painful eyes, and thick ropy green discharge.

Corneal Ulcers – An ulcer is a painful wound in the surface of the eye. This can be caused by trauma, misdirected eyelids, lack of tear production, aging corneas.

Cherry Eye (prolapsed 3rd eyelid gland) – A gland responsible for tear production resides just inside the third eyelid. When this gland dislocates out of position it appears as a smooth round pink or red mass similar to a cherry pit at the inside corner of the eye. Once out of its protected position the gland can become inflamed and no longer produce tears.

Conjunctivitis – This means inflammation of the thin membranes covering the eye. In people this is called “pink eye”. In pets this condition can be caused by allergies, irritants or infection.

Glaucoma – This is a condition caused by high pressure inside the eye. Since the eye does not stretch easily a build-up of pressure can damage the nerve that allows for sight. This is an acutely painful condition and is treated as a true emergency. Signs include squinting, red eye, dilated pupils and pain making your pet less likely to eat, drink and act normally. Medication can help remove fluid from the eye and decrease pressure but this condition almost always results in vision loss in the affected eye(s).

What is the prognosis?

Most superficial eye ulcers and cases of conjunctivitis will resolve with treatment.

Other chronic conditions such as Dry Eye or Uveitis will require lifelong medication. Several examinations may be necessary to assess progress of the condition.

How important is it to treat an eye issue?

Pets with eye problems can be painful and miserable. Failure to address a superficial issue such as an ulcer in a timely manner can cause the problem to worsen and even the eye to rupture resulting in permanent vision loss. Time is of the essence with eye issues and need to be treated promptly and reassessed often.

Is there anything I need to know about administering eye medication?

NEVER instill anything into your pet’s eye without approval from your veterinarian; you could make the problem worse. When applying medication avoid touching the tip of the bottle to the eye itself.

You may need help with applying medication for your pet; you will need to hold the upper eyelid open to get the medication on to the eye.

Pain Management

Historically, it has been said that animals do not perceive pain the same way humans do. Studies however have shown that animals and humans have similar pain receptors. Instinctively, animals try to hide pain as a survival mechanism. At the Animal Hospital of Northwood, our veterinarians follow the AAHA/AAFP Pain Management Guidelines for dogs and cats. These guidelines have shown that pain management helps improve the recovery process and maintains the quality of life for your beloved pet.

Signs of Pain and Discomfort

  • Change of normal behavior
  • Development of abnormal behavior
  • Increased heart rate
  • Panting
  • Pets may continue to drink while in pain
  • Reluctance to walk
  • Vocalization
  • Limping or Stiffness
  • Guarding affected area
  • Increased licking of a specific area
  • Loss of appetite, although some pets may continue to eat while in pain.