Monday, January 15, 2007

Black Lab with Incessant Ear Infection

Jim writes:

My daughter has a wonderfully nice male lab (Jackson) who is having a helluva time with ear infections this Fall and now into winter... Seeing an animal in this kind of discomfort is heart breaking so she has enlisted the services of her father to possibly help get to the bottom of the problem.

Infection is in both ears now and with a sedated flush scheduled today. This particular vet is "thinking" it might be mold or allergy related since it's been unusually warm there in Southern CT. He hasn't been in the Sound for three months either which is pretty unusual. He never exhibited these symptoms when living in the SF area either....

I was wondering if anyone out there has seen this kind of persistent problem and /or what the successful regimen of treatment might be for the same.

Thanking you in advance for any and all informational support you might care to lend at your earliest convenience.



Ear infections can be caused by a number of different things, especially in dogs like our Labrador Retrievers with their long, pendulous ears. Because the ear folds over, it covers our Labrador ear canal and prevents air from entering and drying. This results in a warm/moist ear canal that's just the perfect for organisms to grow in.

Ear mites, ears that are not dried after your Labrador Retriever has been swimming or bathing, a build up of ear wax, allergies, and growths in the ear canal, can all lead to ear infections.

The best preventive measure against ear infections is performing regular ear inspections. Both your eyes and your nose can help detect a problem. Your Labrador retriever ears should have a clean, light pinkish color and should have no foul smell to them. Puss like substance discharges, waxy discharges and foul smell to ears are signs of a problem in your Labs ears. Your veterinarian will be able to show you what to look for in potential problems.

As far as a successful regimen of treatment, cleaning of your Labrador ears regularly is your best bet. Frequency of cleaning will vary, especially in the warmer months and always after swimming or bathing. A good ear cleanser can be recommended by your veterinarian. White vinegar mixed 1:3 with water can also be used to rinse the ears.

One of the best products I've used with success for gunk in my Labrador ears is called a blue power wash (actually I have seen it called many other things, as it has been on the Internet for ages).

"Blue Power Ear Treatment"
16 Oz. Isopropyl Alcohol (Witch Hazel)
4 Tablespoons Boric Acid Powder
16 Drops Gentian Violet Solution 1%

Mix together in alcohol bottle and shake well. You will also need to shake solution every time you use it to disperse the Boric Acid Powder. An eye dropper can be used to fill the ear.

TREATMENT: Evaluate condition of ears before treating and if very inflamed and sore do not attempt to pull hair or clean out ear at all. Wait until inflammation has subsided which will be about 2 days.

Shake the bottle each time before using. Flood the ear with solution (gently squirt bottle), massage gently for approximately a minute, then wipe with a cloth or tissue. Flood again a second time, and wipe again without massaging in. The dog will shake out the excess. Be advised, the Gentian Violet does stain.

The SCHEDULE of treatment is as follows:
Treat 2x per day for the first week to two weeks depending upon severity of ears
Treat 1x per day for the next 1-2 weeks
Treat 1x per month (or even less frequently, depending on the dog)

All of these ingredients should be available at your local pharmacy. I like to use witch hazel instead of alcohol, as if any scratches are in the ear, the alcohol can cause burning. The Boric Acid Powder soothes the ear and the Gentian Violet Solution is an ant-infection agent. The solution appears to work well on many ear problems. I also like to warm my solution slightly, under warm water, but you can use it either way. There is also a commercial version of this solution called Gentian Ear Treatment.

In your e-mail you state "he never exhibited these symptoms when living in the SF area either", which is leading me to believe this could be some sort of allergy. As a response to the allergy, the wax-producing glands of the ear overproduce, causing ear infections. Possibly something new he can be inhaling (atopy), or eating (any new foods, treats).

I hope this has been of some help to you and your daughter. Please keep me advised of your Labradors condition and what your veterinarian has advised, as this is most helpful for other readers of this blog. Please don't hesitate to write with any other questions you may have

UPDATE from Jim:

The long and the short of it here is that the Baytryl (sp) didn't work and Cipro appears to be doing the trick for Jackson. Sarah switched vets and just loves the attentiveness of the new one who calls ever couple of days to check on her star patient.
Evediently the ears were ulcerated, the worst infection this vet had ever seen, but apparently all appears to be under control and headed in the right direction.

I'm chuckling to myself because I can't remember when an MD or a medical office ever checked up on me post procedurally unless it was about a slow paying insurance company or a missed co-pay.....:-)

Thanks again for the recipe and will follow-up to see that it becomes part of the regimen....

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