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Ear Problems in Dogs

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Dog Ear Problems Ear problems in dogs are quite common. Some dog breeds suffer more than others. Dogs with long ears and earflaps, or dogs with more hair around the ears than others seem to suffer the most.

The signs to look for are scratching and clawing at the ears and constant head shaking. There are several reasons why the problem develops, the first one being ear mites.

The vet taking an earwax smear can determine the presence of ear mites. Ear mites have become resistant to pyrethins, thiabendazole, and sevin that are found in the main ear treatments. The medicine used now is Ivermectin, which is potentially harmful unless diluted very carefully. The vet will first clean out most of the earwax and debris. Then 0.1% Ivermectin is massaged into the ear, to kill the ear mites. The treatment must be repeated in two weeks to control any mites or eggs that have survived.

All dogs and cats in the home must be treated' is usually the official advice given by vets when this situation occurs, though I have personally never done so myself (have you seen how many animals we have?!) and have never known another pet or animal to have caused the problem to return, despite living for two years on a very grubby farm with many farm animals and around 12 dogs for much of that time, as well as 8 cats. I am not by any means saying you should ignore veterinary advice. Vets are trained medical professionals, i am NOT, however my animals belong to me and after listening to various sources of advice, mostly from the vet himself, I do still have the right to choose to ignore it and suffer whatever consquences may follow but this decision should not be taken lightly and I am not advising you to do the same. Just use your judgement and do whatever feels right to you after listening to the information on offer.

If the dog has an ear infection but no ear mites, then the advice is to clean out the ear using a topical steroid and if necessary an antibiotic. However certain antiseptics and antibiotics can occasionally cause harm. A natural remedy that has been found to be most effective is 50% organic white vinegar and 50% Colloidal Silver water. This can be applied in doses of twenty drops, four times a day, directly into the ear, massaging the dog’s ear gently, to help absorption. Recouazon Topical Gel, which contains Aloe Vera and natural herbs, soothes inflammation and irritation. Other natural products are available to clean ears and eliminate odour, remove dirt and debris, and contain soothing Aloe Vera, but no alcohol. The benefits of using a natural product are that they are not harmful to the dog and are safe for children handling the dog.

Persistent or recurring ear infections in a dog commonly are manifestations of other concurring diseases, such as allergies and hypothyroidism. A combination of bacterial infection, yeast infection and allergies are a major factor in severe ear complaints. To successfully treat the dog, each symptom needs to be addressed accordingly. Professional veterinary treatment is required. First the wax and debris needs to be removed from the ear, which is done by inserting medication such as Benadryl, Dexamethasone and Gentocin. This is alternated every other day with Chiorhexidine 4% in the ears to kill the yeast infection. Most vets will also prescribe three weeks of oral antibiotics and in severe cases topical antibiotics will also be prescribed. The inflammation, itching and irritation are controlled by a short course of prednisone. If the dog is in a lot of pain then a pain relief will be needed. The dog will be checked for allergies, especially to see if fleas are present.

Flea allergies, allergies to food or grass allergies irritate the mast cells concentrated in the dog’s ear. The mast cells release histamine, prostaglandins and other inflammatory chemicals. The ear then produces too much earwax, which subsequently becomes infected by skin bacteria. The earwax also attracts yeast spores to germinate. The result is the ear canal becomes thickened and swollen. This sets up a cycle that will only increase unless each problem is tackled.

Breeding has played a large part in the problem. Breeds such as, Cockers, Setters, Basset Hounds, and Beagles, have long floppy ears that hold moisture and become infected. Certain breeds such as Poodles, Maltese, Pekingese, Spaniels, and Lhasa Apsos, have developed with thick hair growing inside the ear canal. Again this attracts moisture, debris, and wax. Problems subsequently develop.

A dog groomer or the vet can remove this thick hair. Another reason a dog’s ear may become infected is from swimming in stagnant water. Keep a regular check on your dog’s ears to prevent these problems from occurring.

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