Friday, February 29, 2008

Black Labrador Retriever with occasional ear problems - part II

Subject:Black Labrador Retriever with occasional ear problems - part II

From: Rick (USA)

Labrador Retriever Name: Nikken

To read part one of this e-mail visit: Black Labrador Retriever with occasional ear problems - part I

Reader's E-mail - Rick's Response:


Thanks for your reply to our email regarding our Labrador Retriever, named Neeks, Neekers, Sneakers, pup. His real name is Nikken, but rarely do we call him that. We found him when he was a puppy running in and out of traffic on a State Hwy. We tried to find the owner at the time, but no one claimed him. He's a prize, we bonded immediately. He was about 10 - 12 weeks according to our vet at that time.

Neeks has some allergies, he licks his paws often. We believe that comes from something outside during the warmer weather. He used to itch excessively around his backside. We changed his diet, and included nutritional supplements. He has been on K9Rx ( for a nutritional supplement. This helped, he got his coat back, and even though he is a little sensitive, he's tons better. No itching or digging. No drugs from the vet. The K9Rx is a bit pricey, but worth it. We haven't seen the vet since he has been on it for the problems he was experiencing with the digging and itching, especially around his backside. My wife wouldn't agree to an all natural raw meat diet.

Our Black Lab is really not scratching his ears. He shakes his head, though. The infection is only in his right ear. It does look a bit like mini coffee grounds, and he has had chronic problems with his ears from time to time. This infection really doesn't have a real bad odor as we have noticed with other problems with his ears in the past. It has probably been around a year since he has had an infection in either of his ears. For the most part, Neeks has been pretty healthy. I hope this information helps. I know that we really have to check his ears on a weekly basis, so this doesn't sneak up on us in the future.

Continue Reading...

We have another Black Lab, he is only 4 years old, and knock on wood, he has always been healthy. We know about his background, he wasn't a stray when we got him. By the way, his name is Bogie. He is big, strong, and can jump like no other dog that we have ever had. Our 9 yr. old, Neeks has had his paws full in helping to bring to Bogie up. You know, showing him the ropes, etc...

Yes, I will send along a photo of Neeks and Bogie as you have requested. As with many Lab owners, we are into our guys. Just like two sons, they are family.

Thanks, once again

All About Labradors Blog Answer:

Hello Rick,

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 responding to my questions, and for being patient waiting for your answer. I'm receiving many e-mailed questions and with a full house of my own, it takes some time replying to all of them.

First off Rick, I must state with chronic ear problems I always recommend a trip to your veterinarian for him/her to have a look down your Labrador Retriever' ear canal, do a thorough exam and some lab work to try to narrow down possible causes. They will also make sure there is no eardrum damage.

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, yeast, and bacteria can all lead to ear infections.

Some signs that your Labrador Retriever does have an ear infection:

They shake their head and paw at their ears. They will whine, and a foul smell (yeasty, bacterial, ear infection) may be present. If you look at the ears closely, you will see that the ear canal is red, inflamed, and full of gunk. If you touch the ear it will often hurt or elicit some moans and groans.

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.

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 purchased at your local pet store. White vinegar mixed 1:3 with water can also be used to rinse the ears. It can sting if there is any ulceration of the ear canal, and can possibly be dangerous if the eardrum is damaged.

As for the hydrogen peroxide goes in regards to your question, I have had friends and readers use it with both positive and negative results. 3% hydrogen peroxide mixed 1:1 with warm water can aid in the removal of earwax from the ears. It is not as likely to cause discomfort if the ear is inflamed.

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, 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 highly recommend the use of the 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.

The black material that looks like coffee grounds in Neek’s ears could also be ear mites, or allergies causing an accumulation of the materials.

To check for ear mites (once again I mention the veterinarian) you can carefully remove a bit of debris from inside the ear. Take out your trusty microscope (I know you just have one laying around) or a magnifying glass and take a look. Tiny, crablike creatures, means Neeks has mites. His ears will need to be clean thoroughly with an ear-cleaning formula, and then few drops of a medicated solution designed to kill ear mites, which is available at pet supply stores (following the directions on the label of the formula).

Another good product for ear cleaning and infections is the Zymox Products - ear cleanser and Zymox Otic (Do not use on punctured eardrums. Do not use on pregnant females).

The last time one of my Labradors had a problem with her ears (which they very seldom do) I used the Blue Power Ear Treatment and added plain natural yogurt to their diets (at the urging of a fellow Lab owner, some research and talking to the vet). The live cultures found in yogurt are called Probiotics, which are tiny organisms that help to maintain and produce good flora (bacteria) of the gut and will decrease chances of illness. No problems with ears since.

You can add it directly to their food or you can put some in a Kong (by now, everyone knows of my great love on the Kong toys), and freeze the whole thing with some treats.

Glad to hear your having success with the K9Rx, will be sure to mention it to others as a possible help. Did you try a full food allergy trial with Neeks, for a possible allergy cause? If you would like me to recommend some hypoallergenic foods, or further information on a hypoallergenic food trial, let me know.

For Meeks Paw:

Certain foods or airborne particles like pollen and house dust can be causing the itchy feet. Tree pollens, grass pollens, and weed pollens can also cause the itching. Allergy testing can be done by your veterinarian.

Here are some things you can do to help:

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 Neek’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.

Another method that you can try is Aloe Vera applied to the paw. Make sure its 100% Aloe Vera (like the kind from the plant) not the mixture. This will not hurt Neeks if he is to lick it off.

Tea Tree oil, which you can obtain in a health food store is an antibacterial and anti fungal agent which can be used. Not long ago I did find some information on using Tea Tree oil on our dogs, which states cautions when using it, which should be read by everyone. (ALL ABOUT LABRADORS NO LONGER RECOMMENDS TEA TREE OIL)

Well I hope this can be of some help to you and Neeks. If you don't understand anything here please let me know. If you have further questions on anything else, please don't hesitate to write.

I love it when I get letters from others stating the love for their Labrador Retrievers and how they are family. You couldn't be more correct with that statement!

Take care of yourself, family and your Labrador Retrievers,

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