Thursday, August 16, 2007

My Lab has had ear problems all his life part II

This is part two of a two part readers e-mail question. To read part one visit: My Lab has had ear problems all his life part I

All About Labradors Blog Answer:

Hi Leanna,

The information given here is to help you learn more about your Labrador Retriever and not to replace your veterinarian's advice. Disclaimer

Thanks for being patient with the reply and thanks for the response to my questions.

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.

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

Because of Tank's reoccurring ear infections, it sounds as though he might have some sort of allergy. When dogs have allergies, they are more likely to scratch, chew and lick in an attempt to suppress the itching sensation. They will chew and lick paws until they're red or raw, scratch at their ears frantically and will put their faces on the carpet or furniture and rub endlessly.

Inhalant allergies are most common in dogs. Just like you and I, your Labrador can develop allergies to something it inhales, tree pollens, weeds, grass pollens, with many of these being seasonal. There is also a possibility to allergens such as house dust, molds, mildew, which can be around all the time. These dogs tend to have itchy feet, itchy face etc which can reoccur after treatment unless the allergy is well controlled. Sneezing and coughing may be present

Continue Reading...

Food allergy - allergies to something eaten (ex: beef, pork, turkey, chicken, vegetable products), can occur at any age (more usually in dogs under one year of age) and may mimic the signs of an inhalant allergy. These animals tend to have recurrent ear and skin infections unless the allergy is identified and the allergy is addressed. A special diet "hypoallergenic diet" - a changing of his food to something he hasn't eaten before, which is fed for a set period of time (usually it takes at least 12 weeks on the new food) can be done to help to determine if this is the cause. Food allergies can be complicated to recognize and to treat.

Here is a very helpful website when it comes to food allergies: Food Allergies

Weather changes can also play a major part with Tank's ears. The hot, humid weather of South Carolina can create a favorable environment for infection in Tank's ears.

The best preventive measure against ear infections is performing regular ear inspections. 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.

As far as a successful regimen of treatment, cleaning of your Labrador ears regularly is your best bet. Once weekly cleaning will remove excess wax and dry out the ears, helping to prevent infection. Frequency can be more in the warmer months and always after swimming or bathing. As always, NEVER put a cleanser or medications in an ear that may have an open ear drum without the consultation of your veterinarian.

For the cleaning of the ears, your vet can recommend a good cleanser, or you can try mixing white vinegar with water 1:1 or 1:2 (water being 2) ration. The vinegar is acidic and helps destroy bacteria and yeast. It is not a good idea to use this method if the ears are ulcerated, as it will sting.

One of the best products I've used with success 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). Wish I knew who invented it, for I would like to thank them.

"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, and 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 2 xs 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.

As far as a commercial cleaner goes, I've had many people use and recommend DermaPet Malacetic Otic Ear Cleanser and Malacetic Otic Ear/Skin Cleanser.

If your dog displays discomfort or resist having the ears cleaned, stop immediately and schedule an appointment with your veterinarian to have the ears flushed.

As far as some treatments for Tank's paw:

A nice cool bath can be helpful, since the water will assist in relieving the itching. You can add a little colloidal oatmeal (Aveeno) to the bathwater, which will help soothe the foot or your veterinarian can prescribe an antiseptic shampoo. Make sure you rinse Tank's foot thoroughly after the bath, since any remaining soap that remains can make the itching worse.

You can just soak his foot for five minutes, four times a day, in cool water. Add a sprinkle of Epsom salts to the water as it will also help soothe the foot. A compress applied the paw for approximately five minutes will accomplish the same.

Colloidal Oatmeal Shampoos and cream rinses - these products pull inflammatory toxins out of the skin, along with colloidal oatmeal sprays and lotions, which can be purchased at your local pet stores.

Witch hazel has a cooling effect on the skin which will be soothing for his paw.

Aloe Vera gel (my personal favorite) - if possible, obtain 100% aloe vera gel from a health food store, not the mixture, as the mixture is not as effective as the pure aloe. The pure aloe gel from the aloe plant contains enzymes which will help with the inflammation, and help in the healing process. The think I like is that the pure aloe vera gel is not harmful for pets who want to lick it off.

Fatty acid supplementation (omega 6 and omega 3) may play a beneficial role in the treatment of this yeast infection on the skin and ears in dogs and can also be helpful with allergies.

As for the athlete’s foot medicine, I would personally advise against it.

Here are two sites for hypoallergenic dog foods; if you want to try changing the food you feed Tank:

Remember you have to be strict with the new food test, NO table scrapes, and no treats. I had to laugh about the hot dog buns, as my Dakota has found an occasional bag of buns herself. You might also want to invest in a new garbage can, one Tank can't get into.

Remember, keeping the ears clean is a great preventive measure against infections, but what has to be done is finding out what the cause is. If allergies are the cause, allergy testing is also available by your veterinarian to determine if and what the pet is allergic to.

I hope this can be of some help to you and Tank. If you don't understand anything, please let me know. If you have further questions, don't hesitate to ask. Please keep me up to date on Tank's condition with any treatments and / or vet visits.

Take care of yourself, and Tank.


Readers E-mail - Leanna's Response:

You are so wonderful to respond and in such detail....thank you so much for taking the time to write me. I do love my Tank and want him to be well.....I will definitely keep using the purple stuff in his ears...and yes I already know it stains....I have pink (yuck) carpet in my bedroom and I got a few drops on it....oh well....just an excuse to get new...ha!

I will try your remedies for his feet....bless his precious heart.....I thank you and Tank thanks you and I will send you a picture....

He looks to me as though he could have some blood hound in him or something...he has droopy eyes and very sad countenance....maybe when you see him you'll be able to advise.

Again, Fay, thank you so much....I feel as though I've found a friend....

Have a wonderful day.....Leanna

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