Why do some dogs get chronic yeast ear infections? What or is there a home treatment? This is not my dog but a friends and though the dog goes to the vet reglaglar for the infections since losing a lot of income going to the vet every other month is getting pricey. The dog is in overall good health other then that. She feeds a decent dog food and is about 8 yrs olds. She got her from the shelter when she was about a yr old
A lot of times it is an environmental or food allergy. She could be allergic to a certain protein source (ie chicken) and even the highest quality food isn't going to fix that. A food trial done for 3 months is the best test to see, typically a hypoallergenic food contains a single novel protein source that the dog hasn't had before.
Grain free foods can help allergies as well, although I've heard that meat allergies are actually more common than grain allergies. I would be concerned if she is eating any corn though, so its notorious for being allergenic.
Also, some dogs may just be predisposed to ear infections. Yeast is natural in the environment of a healthy ear, but if there is too much wax buildup or moisture, is can overgrow and cause the yeast infection.
I have a cat who produces too much ear wax and gets chronic yeast and bacterial infections, so once a week she gets a good ear cleaning and a little bit of medication to keep it in check.
Just a side note, if this has been a chronic problem, I would expect my vet to refill ear medication as needed without an exam each time, or fill a large dose at once. If the symptoms are pretty consistent, I fail to see a reason why the owner should have to pay for an exam and cytology each time. Has the vet clinic been asked if they will refill without an exam in this case?
Food allergies can be a primary cause of chronic ear infections. My mom's Pom. had them and once on an allergy food, she had fewer. One of my cats came to us with an ear infection that just would not clear up. Put her on a limited ingredient diet and it finally did, although she still holds that ear cocked, like she is listening to something.
That is where I would look first specially if the dog in question isn't doing anything(like swimming)that would cause them. Has the vet offered any suggestions?
She did change her food.... 3 times and no luck (Science hill now)l. I don't know that she has simply asked to refill her meds but I do know when she has called the vet about another infection they tell her to bring the dog in.
What foods has your friend tried? She should try a novel protein diet - something like duck & potato (one protein source & one carbohydrate source). Natural Balance makes a duck formula, a venison and also a whitefish formula that can be tried. The point is to expose the dog to a protein source that is not present in commercial dog foods. Chicken, beef, lamb - stay away from those.
However, when trying a diet like the one above, you must be absolutely certain that dog food is the ONLY food the dog eats. Some manufacturers (like Natural Balance) make treats that go along with their limited ingredient diets. Others don't - and NO table scraps! If one protein source doesn't help after a month or so, try another.
We went through years of ear infections with my parents' Lab. Finally took him to Univ. of Pennsylvania's vet dermatology department after novel protein diets failed. He now eats Purina HA (one heck of an expensive Rx food for a large dog!). He even gets a piece of his kibble as a treat. That particular food is made of hydrolyzed soy protein & not much else. For the first time in years, his coat looks amazing and more importantly, NO ear issues!
How often is your friend cleaning the dog's ears? We used a product like Epi-Otic and cleaned the ears at least every other day, if not daily. That really helped cut down on the frequency of flare-ups before we figured out the food issue.
Love the Natural Balance Diets. All my kids are on them. My dog is allergic to fish oil(not tested but the only Natural Balance food she can eat without itching is the Venison and Sweet Potato. It's the only one without a fish product in it.) All my cats are on the Salmon and Green Pea. The Pom. I mentioned before was on the Duck and Potato. My heart dog had Inflammatory Bowel disease and lived the last 6 yrs of her life on the Duck and Potato. In her case, it literally was a life saver.
There are other brands that have the allergy formulas but I haven't had as much luck with them as the Natural Balance.
Good luck to your friend at finding out the root cause. So frustrating. Diet is a good place to start.
My first thought would also be food allergies. Novel proteins would be the first this to try (duck, rabbit, etc). Then no grains would be next. My brother actually has his aussie on veggie food, which I wouldn't call ideal but the dog hasn't had an ear infection since he started the food. Make sure she's using a good ear cleaner 2-3 times a week and after every bath/swim. The ear cleaner should also have a drying agent in it.
mroades, I doubt yogurt would help as the dog's yeast infection isn't systemic; it's limited to (presumably) the outer ear. You need to clean the ear on a very frequent basis to help keep the issue at bay; a product like Epi-Otic is readily available online (I used to buy it from Amazon.com) and has salicylic acid in it to help keep the ear dry (yeast loves a moist environment).
One thing that's so frustrating about food allergies is there really isn't a test for them. There is a blood test available, we were advised we would basically be wasting our $$ by doing that as it is not reliable for environmental or food sensitivities.
Instead, my parents' Lab was skin tested for 70+ environmental allergens (including cats & horses!). Interestingly, he was moderately positive for Johnson grass and reacted severely to wool - and my parents don't have any wool in the house! Those were the only two allergens he reacted to (well, he reacted to the positive control... but he was supposed to
The dermatologist also told us there really isn't any test (skin or otherwise) for food sensitivities - you have to use a trial and error approach which can be frustrating!
We were also advised that grain free diets will not help in the case of a true food allergy as they are not novel proteins. They do contain chicken, beef, etc....
Do you know if the vet has ever taken an ear swab and sent out a culture & sensitivity? There may be a bacterial infection along with the yeast (although he should be able to see bacteria on a slide if he looks at a swab under a microscope).
Best of luck - ear issues are no fun for dog or owner.....
Last edited by tarynls; Sep. 14, 2011 at 09:33 AM.
I think true food allergies are relatively rare (maybe 10 percent of all dogs with allergic skin disease?). Most dogs with recurrent infections have multiple allergies to environmental allergens.
Many dogs can have one type of infection (like yeast), followed by another type (like bacteria of various kinds). You need to have a cytology done to determine what type you're dealing with. Cleaning is essential, but if there is also infection, you need a targeted therapy that will kill off the organisms that are present *today*, not the 'last time the dog had the "same" thing'. My usual advice is, if you have to clean more than once a week to have spotless ears, something is colonizing the ear canal and you need medication to fix it.
The other reason to have a veterinarian involved is that you can get proper answers to all of your questions! If your vet is unable to explain what they need to do, or if you would like a specialist's opinion, there are veterinary dermatologists that delight in solving these kinds of problems all day long. (strange breed of folks, I think =) )
For chronic allergy problems, consider allergy testing and hyposensitization injections, or sometimes an immune system modulator like "Atopica" might be appropriate. Again, questions for your vet.
Two of our Goldens battled chronic yeast in the ears for over a year. It was sooooo frustrating.
The only thing that worked (and it worked immediately) was putting them on grain-free food. For ours, we used the Petco brand "Dick Van Patten" Duck/Potato. Worked like a charm and the infections stopped right away in BOTH dogs. They also stopped chewing their paw pads seasonally. They used to always nibble the insides of their under-paws red.
Make sure the food you are using is grain free. Petco has a great selection of different kinds using good proteins like duck, salmon/fish, chicken, etc.
All their LID diets are grain-free although grains are not usually the issue in a true food-allergic dog. It's the protein in the meat.
mjmvet, I agree, vet dermatologists are a strange breed! The smellier the issue, the better! Pus? Lesions? Great! I worked as a tech at a referral hospital with a derm and he would get SO excited over the grossest things!
Last edited by tarynls; Sep. 14, 2011 at 09:44 AM.
Reason: sent too soon
My Jack gets it too. Vet told me it was probably a very, very minor food allergy. Not worth disrupting everyone's life so suggested plain yogurt. It has really worked. We use a local yogurt that is organic, grass-fed, raw milk based but we have a lot of that kind of stuff around here. He prefers the vanilla/honey over the plain. Shocking! Anyway, it's worked well for him. Good luck.
as people have said, chronic/ repeated ear infections almost always indicate a food allergy. Unless you know what the dog is allergic too, just randomly changing foods can be an exercise in frustration. However, picking one of the "limited ingredient" foods available might work. Keep in mind that it can take up to six weeks for the dog's inflammation to go away, and that one must think long and hard about treats and tidbits for dogs with food allergies.
Other things to consider: many of the "limited ingredient" dog foods are extremely low in protein, so supplementing the food with extra protein (from the same source) is essential for optimal dog health- for example, if you feed wellness rice n salmon (only 20% protein) adding some canned salmon on top is a really good, healthy idea.
Allergies, like all inflammatory conditions, can often be helped by feeding a non-inflammatory diet. Grains are the biggest source of inflammation in a dog's diet, so just going grain-free can help dramatically. Also most dogs diets are deficient in omega-3 fatty acids, and supplementing the diet with a fresh source of these fatty acids (canned sardines, canned salmon, fish body oil) can often dramatically reduce allergy symptoms.
up the hill from the little river (that floods alarmingly often)
All the limited ingredient diets in the world will not make a difference unless the dog's owner understands that there cannot be *any* other treats fed during the trial period. Dog owner needs to ask the vet about exactly what is required during a food trial; it is very strict and you cannot figure anything out in a week.
No cheese, no veggies, no bread crusts, no NOTHING.
BTDT and have the $3k in vet bills to prove it. Dog is now finally happy and healthy on a venison/sweet potato diet, and the only treats he gets are one particular grain-free baked treat, dried sweet potatoes, dried venison and carrots. That is what works for him, and he's been ear-infection-free for two years now.
It works for him, and I'm not about to change anything.
Thank you guys!
I will tell her about the food allergy. She has spent a lot of money with no real results or clear answers. Shee is going back to the vet this week so I told to ask about food allergies.