Yesterday I discussed the conventional diagnostics and treatment of chronic ear infections in your dog. Well of course you may have been all through that before and the ear infection still comes back. Do you know what that means? It means the underlying cause of the disease has not been found. It means that the ear infection is a secondary problem not the primary problem. It means that your dog has not been completely diagnosed yet. It means something else is wrong with your dog not just ear infections. So what could this be?
It is a problem with the immune system. This is the primary cause. The immune system is either hypersensitive or hyposensitive. You may know it as two other diseases - allergies or hypothyroidism. The most common for chronic ear infections, however,n is allergies and more specifically food allergies. It is what your dog is eating that is causing the problem with the ears. OK I know that is hard for you to imagine but let me explain. However first lets examine the thyroid issue.
Is your dog overweight no matter how little you feed? Is the dog lazy, lies around a lot, tends to sleep more than you would think? Tends to want to sleep on cold surfaces? Has fat deposits? Has skin problems or chronic ear infections? Your dog may be hypothyroid. A blood test will need to be taken by your veterinarian to determine if your dog does in deed have hypothyroidism. If it does then it is an explanation for the chronic ear infections and if the underlying hypothyroidism is not treated then your dog will continue to have ear infections.
Now back to allergies - If your dog is allergic to his food one of the consequences is that the ears will become inflammed. This in turn will close down the ear canal by the swelling of the internal structures. It will also tend to produce more fluid and ear wax. This produces an environment suitable for bacteria and yeast to proliferate and grow. So what occurs is that you treat the infection but because you continue to feed the dog the same food the inflammation, fluid accumulation and wax buildup continues so the ear infection never goes away or it comes back.
Here are the steps to take to help clear up the allergies and prevent the ear infection from returning….
1. Limit the amount of vaccines your dog is receiving.Annual vaccination is not necessary and can in fact be detrimental to your dogs health. For example in this case your dogs immune system is hypersensitive thats what allergies are a hypersensitive immune system. A vaccine is a substance that stimulates the immune system. It makes no sense to stimulate something that is already overstimulated and hypersensitive??? It has been proven that the core vaccines of Distemper, Parvo, and Hepatitis last many years and are not necessary to be giving every year year after year. Your dog will be much happier and healthier without receiving annual revaccination.
2. Dog food - your dog food will need to be of a higher quality protein than the normal dog. Actually I find it best to feed my dog who does not have allergies a higher quality protein. Dogs allergies tend to come from being allergic to protein sources and a lower quality protein is one that stimulates the immune system more than one that is easier to digest and clear through the digestive system easier. So this means avoid grains. Your dog food needs to be meat based. Look at the ingredients, is corn, wheat, rice, or oats high on the list of ingredients? Is it the first product? This is not an appropriate dog food. I prefer to feed an allergic dog a raw based diet or if you are not comfortable with feeding that type of diet or you need the convenience of a kibble diet then you need to purchase one that has a high quality protein and is grain free. There are many dog foods on the market that are duck and potato, venison and potato or just grain free.
3. Dog treats - when first starting out with the new diet I would recommend using the dog food as treats as well. Just take a handful of the new dog food and place it in a bag or in a jar and use them as treats your dog will not know the difference except in his immune system. After the immune system and allergies are under control then you can attempt to use something other than the dog food as treats. I would recommend a high quality freeze dried meat based product.
So the steps to fix your dogs chronic ear infections - 1. Proper diagnosis, 2. Proper treatment, 3. Diagnosis of underlying disease, 4. proper treatment of underlying disease. If you are able to do these steps then your chronic ear infections will be a thing of the past. Your dog and his health will appreciate it.allergies, chronic ear infection, dog health
One of the most common “dis-eases” that I see as a dog veterinarian is ear infection. In fact, I see a lot of chronic ear infections. You know… the dog that has ear infection after infection after infection, maybe this is your dog? You start the medication and the ear clears up and as soon as the medicine is finished the ear infection comes back. Or maybe the ear infection never really clears up. Are you tired of cleaning the ears once a week with ear cleanser, putting drops in the dogs ears every day, your dog shaking his head constantly, or scratching his ears all the time? Well in this two part series I am going to take you through the steps necessary to finally “fix” this disease once and for all.
The first step is actually proper diagnosis and treatment —
1. The first step is physical examination of the infected ear. An otoscope is necessary to look inside the ear to examine the internal structures. Is the inside of the ear red and inflammed, is the ear canal closed over, is there a lot of fluid in the ear, is the ear drum still intact?
2. Your veterinarian needs to do an ear cytology. Which means he/she will take an ear swab, collect a sample of the infected ear, roll it onto a microscope slide and examine the “gunk” under the microscope. This should be done without your dog on antibiotics and prior to cleaning the ear that day. This will provide information as to whether your dog has a bacterial infection or a yeast infection.
3. A culture and sensitivity must be performed if your dog has experienced multiple ear infections. The reason being is that yes we may know what bacteria it is by checking out the ear cytology however we would not know exactly what antibiotic would actually kill the bacteria. So any dog that has experienced multiple ear infections must have a proper diagnosis and treatment to clear up the infection properly.
After proper diagnosis and an appropriate antibiotic is found to treat the ear, then proper treatment must be applied. First oral antibiotics may be necessary especially in the case of a Staph infection, not just the topical antibiotics, ie ear drops. So with the culture and sensitivity the appropriate oral antibiotics are given (rememeber to use probiotics as well to help with the affect of the antibiotics on the intestinal bacteria) and will be needed every day for at least a week if not up to four weeks for some infections. Next be sure to have the ears cleaned very well, this will need to be done twice a week. Then everyday the ears will need to be swabbed out with a cotton ball and the appropriate antibiotic drops applied, this may need to be done twice daily. If there is a lot of fluid accumulation in the ears, then an astringent will need to applied every other day until the fluid accumulation has subsided. A typical astringent made for ears would be found in swimmers ear medication.
The above is the appropriate conventional diagnosis and treatment for ear infections. There are alternative treatments as well however the proper diagnostics need to be completed just as was stated above. Tomorrow I will go into how to prevent the ear infections from reoccurring, you may be surprised at what the actual underlying cause usually is for chronic ear infections. To give you a hint - it will be food for thought and will help your entire dogs health.bacterial ear infection, chronic ear infection, dog health