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Ask the Vet: When should I spay or neuter my kitten? How do I treat my dog's ear infection? Your feline, canine questions answered.

Q: My dog was just treated for an ear infection last month and now he has another one! Why did it come back? Was it not treated appropriately the first time?

A: Ear infections (otitis externa) in dogs are an infection of the outer ear canal. The outer ear canal in a dog has a unique shape and is longer than a human’s ear canal. With this unusual shape and length, material and moisture can get trapped deep down in the canal providing an environment friendly to yeast and bacteria overgrowth.

Getting water in the ear canals due to bathing or swimming is one of the most common reasons for ear infections. Once the water gets deep in the ear canal it cannot be removed, even with vigorous head shaking, and then the ear canal is set up for yeast and bacterial overgrowth.

It is recommended to flush the dog’s ears with an appropriate dog ear flush solution to get the water out of the ears after bathing and swimming. An over the counter dog ear flush has the appropriate ingredients to clean and dry out the ear canals.

The other most common reason for ear infections is allergies either to food, environment or both. Skin allergies can cause all sorts of skin lesions, infections, and irritation including in the ear canals.

Inflammation of the skin disrupts the normal barriers of the skin and allows for secondary infections. When the ear canals become inflamed due to allergies they too create the ideal environment for yeast and bacterial overgrowth.

When treating ear infections that are due to allergies, it is vital to determine and treat the underlying source of the allergies or the infections will continue to re-occur. It is also important to treat the inflammation, and typically that is done with an oral allergy medication along with the topical therapy.

Ear infections are primarily treated topically because oral medications do not penetrate the outer ear canal well. When allergies are suspected to be the inciting cause then oral allergy medications are also used.

If your dog continues to get ear infections even with treatment, then it is likely the infections are secondary to allergies and will probably be a chronic issue that needs to be managed and not cured.

Q: I just adopted a kitten and I am confused as to when to get her vaccinated and spayed. What is your advice?

A: Getting your pets properly vaccinated when they are young is essential for long term immunity against highly contagious and deadly diseases that they might be exposed to during their lifetime.

It is not the quantity of vaccines that a young animal gets that is important, rather it is the timing and quality of the vaccine that is crucial.

After being weaned, a young animal still has immunity from the mother. This immunity will fade over time as their own immune system starts to take over. It is during this time that the early vaccines are used to start to educate the animal’s own immune system as to how to “respond” when exposed to one of these diseases.

Vaccines should be given 3-4 weeks apart until the kitten is 4 months of age. Typically, we start giving vaccines at 8 weeks and then give them every 4 weeks until 4 months of age. Giving vaccines more frequently than every 3-4 weeks is not recommended and can be detrimental to the young animal’s health.

It is important to know that prior to the last kitten vaccines at 4 months the immune system is not completely mature yet and the pet could still be at risk for contracting diseases. After the kitten is fully vaccinated then it is recommended to get the kitten spayed.

Daily Almanac

Tuesday, Feb. 13

Darkness to Light Stewards of Children training: 5:30-6:30 p.m. Sinagua Middle School auditorium. A childhood sexual abuse prevention training. Many community members have sponsored books, food and giveaways. There will be free childcare for parents who attend. The training is for parents, teachers, policy makers and anyone working with youth.

City Council Work Session: 6-8 p.m. City Hall, 211 W. Aspen Ave. Topics to be discussed are updates on city clean-up efforts and treating e-cigarettes and vaping the same as other tobacco products. The meeting can be streamed at

CAVIAT Priority Registration Night: 5:30-6:30 p.m. Flagstaff Arts & Leadership Academy, 3401 N. Fort Vally Road. Now taking enrollment for Fall 2018. Come and learn more about the CAVIAT Central Programs, meet the staff, start the registration process. Please bring a copy of your student's birth certificate and photo IDs to the event. 985-0199.

Coffee & Neighborhood Conversations: 7:30-9 a.m. Firecreek Coffee Company, 22 Historic Route 66. Meet Valeria Chase, NAU’s new Neighborhood Liaison. 213-2074.

Visual Communication for Business Leaders: Noon-1. NACET Policy Conference Room, 2225 N. Gemini Road. Improve your ability to communicate with students, colleagues, clients, and collaborators by learning the fundamentals of visual communication. 421-1110.

Hiring Event- Advantage Solutions: 10 a.m.-1 p.m. Goodwill of Central & Northern Arizona, 4308 Historic Route 66. Advantage Solutions will be on-site interviewing for event specialists both full time and part time positions, $11./hour. Dress professionally and bring a copy of your resume. 556-5096.

CAL Film Series: 'Hombre': 7-9 p.m. NAU Liberal Arts Building, room 120, 700 S. Humphreys. 1967. Martin Ritt directed one of Paul Newman's signature roles -- a white man raised by an Apache family who becomes the only hope stagecoach passengers have after they're robbed of everything. Free and open to the public. Print a complimentary parking pass at

Student Massage Clinic: 3:30-5:50 p.m. ASIS Massage Education, 113 W. Phoenix Ave. Every week or two students are learning new massage and bodywork modalities, and so as clients, you can expect to experience an abundance of different techniques. 224-8210. $30.

Rockin' Mardi-Gras: 7-10 p.m. Orpheum Theater, 15 W. Aspen Ave. Featuring Rock Nine and Hurricanes. Free. 380-2292.

Northern Arizona Parkinson's Support Group: 11:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m. The Peaks Senior Living Community, 3150 Winding Brook Road. Monthly meeting. 526-3115.

Wednesday, Feb. 14

'The Music of Silence' Flagstaff Premiere: 7-9 p.m. Harkins Cinemas, 4751 E. Marketplace Dr. From the Academy Award-nominated director of "Il Postino" and "The Merchant of Venice" - Michael Radford - comes this mesmerizing and beautiful biopic of Andrea Bocelli, a blind boy, who against all odds becomes one of the most world renowned opera singers. 282-1177. $12.

BLE Foundation Fundraiser: 5-9 p.m. Blendz Winery. Valentine fundraiser for the Best Life Ever (BLE) Foundation. A special BLE Wine Blend is currently available for sale. Proceeds from bottle sales as well as sales from the evening will benefit BLE. 779-6445.

Justice for Nicole Joe Vigil: 5 p.m. Heritage Square, 6 E. Aspen Ave., Flagstaff. Wear red and dress for the weather, limited supply of candles, you're welcome to bring your own candle.

Blood Drive: 1:30-5:30 p.m. CollegeAmerica, 399 S. Malpais. The cold and flu season is worse than expected this year and is preventing many donors from giving blood. Give blood and receive a voucher for a free pizza slice and soft drink, donated by Fratelli Pizza. 607-0152.

Friendship Tea and Valentine Exchange: 10:30-11:30 a.m. Foresight Learning Center, 8245 Koch Field Road. We will exchange Valentines, create special projects, play "lovely" games and enjoy treats! Have your child bring 20-25 Valentines with his or her name on them, but do not address them to specific children. RSVP to 527-8337.

Blood Drive: 10 a.m.-3 p.m. LDS Institute of Religion, 239 W. Saunders. All blood types are urgently needed. Give blood and receive a voucher for a free slice and drink, compliments of Fratelli Pizza. 877-827-4376.

Valentine's Day Special Screening: “The Princess Bride”: 7-9 p.m. Orpheum Presents, 15 W. Aspen Ave. $5. 607-4446.

Citizens' Climate Lobby: 6:30-7:30 p.m. Episcopal Church of the Epiphany, 423 N. Beaver St. Learn how carbon fee and dividend works and how we can make it happen. 699-3441.


Dog show's young handlers take a grown-up sport in stride

NEW YORK — Fenric Towell isn't nervous about his first time competing at the nation's top dog show. After all, he's heading to the Westminster Kennel Club ring this week with 100-plus shows under his belt, a record of wins and a champion Lakeland terrier.

So what if he's only 11?

"I'm going to try to think of it as a normal show," the Oklahoma City boy said. "I just try to focus on the highest place that I can get."

Westminster is best known for the dog that will be crowned best in show tonight at Madison Square Garden. As judging began Monday night, a borzoi named Lucy won the hound group, a pug dubbed Biggie won the toy group and a bichon frise called Flynn took the nonsporting group. Slick, a border collie, won the herding group.

But the event also is a showcase for youngsters who can handle both dogs and grown-up competition.

While there's a special contest for junior handlers, many also exhibit their dogs in the breed judging that goes toward best in show. They go up against adults in an atmosphere that prizes poise and formality.

"It's hard because they're top people, and we're just kids," said Faith Rogers, 14, of Bordentown, New Jersey, now at her fourth Westminster. But when she started showing dogs at age 9, she decided: "This is what I love, and I didn't really care if there were older people or not."

Or, as twin sister Emma puts it, "Let's just show 'em what we got."

Dogs ranging from wee Chihuahuas to rangy Irish wolfhounds showed what they've got in Monday night's group judging, helped by adult handlers.

Lucy "knows when there's a big stage," said handler Valerie Nunes-Atkinson. Handlers, meanwhile, need to "go Zen" so their dogs won't pick up jitters, Bill McFadden said after leading Flynn.

Slick has won best of breed previously at Westminster, but Monday's herding group win "means a lot to us," handler Jamie Clute said.

Biggie's handler, Esteban Farias, called the dog "a dream come true" after a tragedy: a previous pug pal suddenly died during a routine walk.

About 5,000 junior handlers nationwide are registered with the American Kennel Club, a governing body for Westminster and many other dog shows. Young handlers also can compete through 4-H and other kennel clubs.

AKC "junior showmanship" competitions are open to youngsters ages 9 to 18. They're judged on their presentation, not their dogs' particulars.

But there's no age minimum for handlers in the breed rings, a point driven home to Thanksgiving Day TV watchers who saw (emphasis on the "awwww") 6-year-old Mackenzie Huston and her long-coat Chihuahua in a semifinal round at the Kennel Club of Philadelphia's National Dog Show.

Mackenzie sometimes feels scared as she waits to show. But "when I get in the ring, I don't feel nervous," said the now 7-year-old girl from Bellmawr, New Jersey.

She isn't going to Westminster — yet — but super-young handlers have shown there, including then-7-year-old Raina McCloskey last year (with a borzoi, no less.)

Westminster's 95 junior invitees are "very competitive, they're very talented and very, very good," show chairman David Helming said. Westminster is boosting its top juniors' prize, a scholarship, from $6,000 to $10,000 this year. The eight finalists all get some education money.

Dog showing requires an investment of money and, particularly, time. Junior handlers can spend hours per week training, grooming and exercising their dogs, weekends traveling to shows and years balancing it all with school, other activities and friends.

All that to don dress clothes and notch accomplishments many of their peers can't quite understand. ("You're running around in a circle with dogs?")

But young handlers say it's worth it for the bond they develop with their animals.

"You go and spend time with your best friend," said Emma Rogers, who's returning to Westminster as a 2016 juniors finalist (older sister Sophia won).

Juniors come away with human friends all over the country, plus an education in animal behavior and patient teamwork.

"You have to be very resilient," said Erin LaPlante, 17, of Caledonia, Wisconsin. "You're going to lose far more than you're going to win, but you learn far more than you win."

About five years after her dog show debut ended in tears, she won juniors at the AKC National Championship in December and is returning to Westminster. So is sister Maren, 13.

Their family had never shown dogs before Erin started, at the suggestion of their Doberman's breeder. Molly Anne Forsyth, on the other hand, comes from two generations of breeders of greyhound-like Salukis. But "we trust each other even more from showing together," said the 16-year-old from Davis, California.

For parents, the sport requires acclimating to the occasional double take when a 6-year-old uses the word "bitch" —appropriately, for a female dog — plus a lot of driving and helping out.

"I can dress a little boy in a suit in my sleep," laughs Alysha Towell. Her daughter and six of her seven sons, including Fenric, either show dogs or soon will.

Cortlund, 17, was a juniors finalist at Westminster last year, earning a turn in the big ring at Madison Square Garden. He placed fourth and is returning this year.

"It's not like any other sport," he said. "If you play soccer or football and quit, they can live without you. You can't quit on a dog."

Leslie Schulz  

Dalila is a one-year old female retriever mix who is seriously looking for affection. She will stick by you through thick or thin. Please come visit Dalila at the Coconino Humane Association. You can see other adoptable pets at