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Dog has persistent ear infection...

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  • Dog has persistent ear infection...

    We've been to the vet twice, tried two different antibiotics. Both times it's a combo of bacteria and yeast. It's been improving but it's lingering. Been about two months now of treating/cleaning. Will be making a follow up trip this weekend but thought I would see if anyone out there had experienced this too.

    Some background...9 yr old lab (or around that age, we rescued him), hasn't had any issues with his ears until this past year. He's always been suspected by the vet of having some immune disorder (has had issues with his nose and the sides of his mouth on lower jaw). Antibiotics always work for a time, but then it comes back. Everything definitely has a yeasty smell. He's already on a high quality, grain free food (Acana Pacifica). Recently switched all his treats to grain free too.

    So...before throwing more antibiotics at him, I was wondering if anyone has had luck with any supplements to help boost the immune system. I was looking at APF on Smartpak Canine as one but would definitely appreciate any other ideas/suggestions.

  • #2
    Ear infections always have an underlying cause. Are you good about always cleaning his ears after swimming and bathing? Did you treat his earsexactly as directed (aka didnt stop 3 days early, always treated 2x/day, etc)? If so, it's time to rule out allergies, which can be due to food or environmental allergens. Grain free does not equal low allergen, since most dogs with food allergies are allergic to a protein, not a grain. Discuss with your vet. You may also need to perform a culture and sensitivity on his ear goop (different than a cytology, which was likely what was performed) since he's been exposed to several antibiotics.

    Comment


    • #3
      Will second what Ben and Me said. The breed I rescue has ear infections as a typical health issue. Sometimes they obviously have had years of unresolved problems.

      My policy is that if one course of antibiotics does not cure the problem, then I insisit on a culture and sensitivity test. Then I have the vet prescribe the antibiotic from that test.

      Lack of compliance with the directions (people tend to not give treatments for the entire time they are supposed to) is a big reason why these infections reoccur. I take the dog back for a follow up test one week after they complete the round of antiobiotics. I also ask the vet to extend the typical round of treatment by a few days just to make sure.

      Once they are clear, they join in the weekly routine of using the Blue Ear treatment which is done religiously.

      Reoccuring ear infections tend to be an indicator that something else is going on. Food allergies are the first thing I suspect and I move them to a diet of Taste of the Wild fish formula and no treats. Many times that clears up the problem.

      You asked about supplements to boost their immune systems. A high quality food program containing nothing they are allergic to should do the trick. Sorry, no supplements that I am aware of.

      Comment


      • #4
        Definitely check into the possibility of a food allergy. Our hound mix had an ear infection that did not respond to treatment. I had asked the vet early on whether she thought it was a food allergy and she said no. I put my foot down a lot later than I should have (month 4 and ~$1,500 poorer); after two weeks on a new food (novel protein, novel carb and *nothing* else), the ear infection had resolved.

        It will flare back up again if he gets something he shouldn't eat, but otherwise he does great on a venison and potato food (he can't do chicken or lamb, and finding a food that doesn't have chicken meal or chicken fat in it is difficult).

        Changing foods is relatively cheap/easy compared to some of the procedures the vet may want to try, so I would urge you to consult with a vet who specializes in allergies (food and environmental) and see if changing the diet is an appropriate step.
        Full-time bargain hunter.

        Comment

        • Original Poster

          #5
          Hmmm...I actually put him on this food because he was having bad reactions to any land mammals when we first got him (really runny stool, sorry if TMI). He was on Orijen Six Fish for about two years, and I switched him to the Acana Pacifica (same maker, just uses less fish sources, I think its three versus six) probably close to two year ago. Maybe next batch of food I'll switch back to the Six Fish.

          And its not really a reoccuring infection, so much as a lingering one. Because so far, we haven't been able to clear it up, and this is the first ear infection he's had in the 4 years we've owned him.

          Do regularly clean ears after swimming, however he hasn't done that in awhile.

          We also dutifully follow the program the vet asked us to. I haven't asked for a culture, so that is probably a good next step.

          Comment


          • #6
            He was on Orijen Six Fish for about two years, and I switched him to the Acana Pacifica (same maker, just uses less fish sources, I think its three versus six) probably close to two year ago. Maybe next batch of food I'll switch back to the Six Fish.
            In order to do a true food trial, he needs to stay on a low-allergy food (many vets prefer you to be on a prescription diet formulated for this purpose) and ONLY that low-allergy food. As PAF implied, that means no treats, no table scraps, no food off the street.

            But, it would be a great idea to discuss this with your vet this weekend before embarking on your own. (S)He has the dog's entire clinical picture.

            I do think that by this point, there probably is a resistance problem in that ear, so a culture and sensitivity is probably a good idea. Discuss with the vet before you bring him in for the appointment, as you may need to stop all treatments beforehand.

            I would venture a guess that there is something else going on -- dog's don't tend to spontaneously get ear infections. Good luck!

            Comment


            • #7
              Ear "infections" are rarely caused solely by food allergies. Puritis can be a result of food allergies, but unless there is extreme scratching it doesnt often turn into an inner ear infection. As much as we would like to think that good food cures everything, it doesnt

              Have you had a CT or ottoendoscopy to take a look down the ear? Culture to see what its resistent to? TECA might be a good option if its recurrent. We often forget, but ear infections are extremely painful and they must be this way for animals too Hope he gets better soon!!

              Comment

              • Original Poster

                #8
                Definitely no intense scratching. And it has a very distinctive yeast smell with reddish brown goo. Same color as those stains that dogs get under their eyes/mouths. That's why I was originally wondering if it was somehow related to his possible immune disorder, and if there were any immune boosting supplements I could try outside of a good diet.

                I'll for sure ask the vet about a culture. Only thig they've done is taken a sample and looked at t under a microscope I guess?

                Comment


                • #9
                  Wowza, TECA's are a mega last step though. I mean on a cocker spaniel who's drip-pussing from its ears for years at a time yes, but phew. Lets not scoop holes in the poor lab's head just yet!

                  Hope to hear the results of the culture, thats the next practical step I'd take myself.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by irkenequine View Post
                    Wowza, TECA's are a mega last step though. I mean on a cocker spaniel who's drip-pussing from its ears for years at a time yes, but phew. Lets not scoop holes in the poor lab's head just yet!

                    Hope to hear the results of the culture, thats the next practical step I'd take myself.
                    Absolutley, didnt say it was the next step - but, a chronic unresolving ear infection is painful. Whats the cause? Next step culture, blood for autoimmune diseasses, then CT/Otoendocsopy. Then, if all that yields no results an ear canal eblation - especially if unilateral! TECA's are cures, if the infection is unresponsive to antibiotics. I consider letting it linger for months with no diagnosis is reason enough for a TECA. As having lots of ear infections myself, I know how painful it is. TECA's are routine procedures for boarded surgeons.

                    Generally, autoimmune diseases respond best to steroids (prednisone or dexamethasone). With "Autoimmune" You are actually wanting to suppress the immune system, not boost it. With "immune deficiences", you want to boost it. Its important to know what you are dealing with before trying to correct it holistically. You can get infections with both autoimmune and immune deficiencies.

                    Sounds like you are on the right track though,keep the ear clean and get a culture for your next step to ensure you are on the right antibiotics. I wouldnt let it linger before moving onto the next step more than a few months.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      OK, maybe I am the only one that is dense, but I was cleaning my dog's ears by putting the ear cleaner on a cotton ball, and then wiping it out because he hated when I poured the stuff into his ear. I could not get the last bit of gunk deep in the ear canal, even with otomax.

                      So I decided (Eureka moment) to follow the directions and squirt the ear cleaner into the ear, even though the dog hated it. A few days later the ear looks great.

                      Goes to prove, following the directions can be a good thing.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        One of my dogs has a food allergy and one of the ways it manifested was horrible ear infections.

                        Look closely at the food issue.
                        Sheilah

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Most dogs aren't fans of the ear cleaning procedure; I've found with mine that he doesn't mind certain cleaners (I use a foaming one whose name escapes me) as much as others (the Epi-otic cleaner). The Epi-Otic has an "apple" scent that's not very pleasant, and after I clean his ears with this, he goes and flings himself on the rug and scrubs his face into the carpet.

                          Part of the reason I use the foaming ear cleaner is to help bring up debris deep in the ear canal. I usually do that one first followed by the Epi-Otic, a protocol that my vet has approved.

                          He gets a high-value treat after this, which helps lessen the unpleasantness some, but it's definitely not his favorite activity.
                          Full-time bargain hunter.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Absolutley, didnt say it was the next step - but, a chronic unresolving ear infection is painful. Whats the cause? Next step culture, blood for autoimmune diseasses, then CT/Otoendocsopy. Then, if all that yields no results an ear canal eblation - especially if unilateral! TECA's are cures, if the infection is unresponsive to antibiotics. I consider letting it linger for months with no diagnosis is reason enough for a TECA. As having lots of ear infections myself, I know how painful it is. TECA's are routine procedures for boarded surgeons.
                            Ehh yeah, I wouldn't call them routine but we do them often; two or three a month. They are one of the most painful recoveries in my opinion though, eesh. Those dogs who are chronically painful do suffer again in the short term for a long term gain.



                            Onelaneroad, I'd be really interested in hearing the name of your foaming ear cleaner. I've not heard of that but would like to give it a try on one of mine.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              I had both of my dogs on grain free fish food for years, until the collie/lab type mix dog developed yeast infections. The smell is how we noticed it.

                              Turns out that dog really benefited from a high quality food WITH grain in it (not corn).
                              She has been eating a lamb type food with barley and other grains, and haven't had a yeast infection since.

                              Comment


                              • #16
                                Originally posted by SquishTheBunny View Post
                                Absolutley, didnt say it was the next step - but, a chronic unresolving ear infection is painful. Whats the cause? Next step culture, blood for autoimmune diseasses, then CT/Otoendocsopy. Then, if all that yields no results an ear canal eblation - especially if unilateral! TECA's are cures, if the infection is unresponsive to antibiotics. I consider letting it linger for months with no diagnosis is reason enough for a TECA. As having lots of ear infections myself, I know how painful it is. TECA's are routine procedures for boarded surgeons.
                                GAH. Wow. Had no idea you could even DO that. Pictures, for the curious: http://www.marvistavet.com/html/body..._ablation.html

                                Comment


                                • #17
                                  LOL! Yep, usually infections start at the inner ear- getting the antibiotics in there is important. Ottomax is a wonderful antibiotic, so glad your dog responded to it!

                                  Comment


                                  • #18
                                    Originally posted by irkenequine View Post
                                    Ehh yeah, I wouldn't call them routine but we do them often; two or three a month. They are one of the most painful recoveries in my opinion though, eesh. Those dogs who are chronically painful do suffer again in the short term for a long term gain.



                                    Onelaneroad, I'd be really interested in hearing the name of your foaming ear cleaner. I've not heard of that but would like to give it a try on one of mine.


                                    Just wondering what your pain management protocol is after TECA's? I find most of our patients on receovery to do quite well. Generally we keep their fentanyl CRI going throughout the night and wean them onto tramadol/metacam. I havent seen one needing to stay a second night past surgery. We do on average the same amount per month (1-2 weekly is average) with lots of spaniels, bulldogs and labs.

                                    Comment


                                    • #19
                                      Just wondering what your pain management protocol is after TECA's? I find most of our patients on receovery to do quite well. Generally we keep their fentanyl CRI going throughout the night and wean them onto tramadol/metacam. I havent seen one needing to stay a second night past surgery. We do on average the same amount per month (1-2 weekly is average) with lots of spaniels, bulldogs and labs

                                      We too do Fentanyl CRI's or sometimes MLK, a fentanyl bolus or some combination of it all depending on the doctor dog and day. Or we use hydro q4-6 for management off fluids. Ditto on the Spaniels (cockers, cockers, and more cockers) and Bulldogs, less so labs. They go home once the drains can be pulled, a day to 3 days depending. Its not our 'biggest' or mores critical surgery but I would definitely say its one of the more painful, short of a hemilaminectomy. Just personal observation. I guess its the pain + can't rub + MUST STAY IN E COLLAR combo. I guess too I'm comparing it to lets say, TPLOs, which are done at 3pm and are home the next day, happy, alert and no post operative pain meds apart from tramadol and a NSAID.

                                      Comment


                                      • #20
                                        my 9 yr old lab had never had ear problems in her life and suddenly had a persistent one for the better part of 6 months. I switched her feed to Taste of the Wild Pacific Stream and it went away...

                                        Comment

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