Chronic Ear Infections
If you feel your pet is suffering from any medical condition, you should always seek attention from a licensed Doctor of Veterinary Medicine. The information provided in any of my blog posts should not be used in substitution of veterinary medicine, nor is it meant to diagnose or treat any medical condition. None of the information has been evaluated or approved by the FDA or AVMA. This is strictly informative only. Any suggestions should be discussed with your veterinarian first.
Do you have a pet who suffers from chronic ear infections? I do, and I understand how frustrating it can be to constantly be dealing with the treatment, reoccurrence, and smell that comes along with it.
There are many reasons pets may suffer from reoccurring ear infections. One is your pet may have a congenital issue that is causing the problem. Another is your pet may suffer from an allergy. Your veterinarian may be able to either provide an allergy test or refer you to a specialist who can help you determine what your pet may be allergic to. If you suspect that your pet is suffering from an allergy the first things I would suggest eliminating from their diet is chicken, potatoes, and peas. Chicken allergies are prevalent among dogs. That means you need to go through and read the label of every food and every treat. You will want to eliminate any whole chicken, chicken meal, chicken by-product, etc. The same for pototoes and peas. No potato, potato starch, pea starch, etc. When your pet has an allergic reaction it can cause an imbalance in yeast. In reality, your pet has about 300 different kinds of yeast on and in it's body. Potatoes and peas are a starch. When ingested they turn into carbohydrates which turns into sugar which feeds the yeast.
Did you know your groomer can help? Firstly, if your pet suffers from chronic ear infections and has long hair on its ears, the best thing to do is shave that hair off. By removing the hair on the ear leathers (the technical term for the ears themselves) and in front of the ears, it allows more oxygen to get into the ear canal which can help to keep the canal drier and the yeast better balanced. Also, having your pet's ears cleaned on a monthly basis can assist with keeping the harmful bacteria at bay and the good bacteria thriving. Allowing your pet's ears to become packed with dirt and debris will only lead to further complications. Some pets such as poodles, doodles, shih tzus, any type of terrier, Maltese, Havanese, schnauzer (basically if it can grow long facial hair it will fit this category) have hair that grows down into the ear canal. A well-trained groomer can pluck this hair with little to no discomfort. Now, some veterinarians will disagree with this and say not to pluck the ears. The reason they feel this way is that because when the ears are plucked it can cause microscopic openings in the skin in which bacteria can take hold and cause an infection. This is something each pet owner will need to decide for themselves. For this groomer, I'm a plucker and will always be a plucker. Often times I get pets that are only brought in 3-4 times a year and they have grown several inches of hair into that ear canal which has become packed with dirt, debris, wax, and bacteria. I have often pulled out hair that was so impacted with junk that it looked like the candle Shrek pulled from his ear. Keeping the amount of hair that is in your pet's ear under control can also help with bacteria and yeast control. If you suspect your pet has an ear infection already then DO NOT have the ears plucked until after the infection is cleared up. Imagine what your ears would be like if you only cleaned them every 3-4 months!
There are a few products on the market that used in conjunction with your veterinary prescriptions may help. One is Lisa Leedy's Miracle Ear Elixir. You should be able to find that on Chewy or Amazon and just follow the instructions on the label. The other is Zymox, which you can also find online but also at stores such as D&B, PetCo or PetSmart. These two products help to dry the ear so that the yeast and bacteria have a less hospitable environment. My favorite solution you can make right at home:
1 cup Apple Cider Vinegar (with the mother) you can find it at Safeway. Shake the ACV up thoroughly and then strain one cup through a fine kitchen strainer or cheesecloth.
1 cup steam distilled water. This is very important! You must have steam distilled water. Tap water could possibly contain other contaminants that could cause harm to your pet. Steam distilled water is the safest to use in your pet's ears.
*Optional...6-10 drops Colloidal Silver OR Tea Tree Oil....DO NOT USE BOTH, CHOOSE ONE. You can find both of these products at Walmart in the vitamin section.
Please note that Tea Tree Oil is a neurotoxin to pets and humans. It must always be diluted. DO NOT use it straight.
Once you have your solution you can leave it stored in an airtight container for up to one week. I suggest not refrigerating it, even though you could, but cold solution into a sensitive ear sounds like it would be uncomfortable. If you refrigerate it, I would let it warm to room temperature before proceeding.
I will take about 1/4 cup at a time and pour it into a glass, then I take a large syringe and draw it up. I then use the syringe, careful NOT to push it into my pet's ear canal and squirt it down into the ear. I massage the ear for about 20 seconds and then I take clean cotton, the kind you get at Sally's Beauty Supply, it comes in a long roll, and you just tear off what you need, I push the cotton down into the ear canal and give it a few seconds to start absorbing the solution and then pull it out. I continue to push and pull clean cotton until I feel all the solution has been absorbed. If I'm still getting a lot of debris, I will flush the ear with the ACV solution one to two more times. If my pet has an active ear infection, I will continue to do this every day before applying the meds from my veterinarian. If my pet has a problem with chronic ear infections, I will continue to do this once a week after the initial infection has cleared up, as a preventative.
Make sure you never use the same syringe for both ears. Have two and clearly mark them for left and right. When you're done make sure to sanitize your syringes. You never want to take the chance of cross contaminating bad bacteria to a healthy ear or bacteria back into an ear that's trying to heal. I soak my syringes in 70% rubbing alcohol for no less than 10 minutes. The same goes with the cotton. Never take cotton from one ear and use in the other. If you're getting a lot of debris, I would also suggest washing your hands between ears.
A few other ways your groomer can help: if your pet grows hair in their paw pads, have it trimmed out on a regular 4-6 week basis. When hair builds up in the paw pads it can cause yeast to grow. Your pet will then lick their feet in an effort to get relief from the itchiness. Many times, this will result in a yeast infection starting to grow in the flews (the little pockets each dog has on their bottom lips, there is one on each side of the mouth) or even around the eyes if they have a lot of facial hair with eye drainage. Also, pets will take those yeasty feet and scratch their ears thereby transferring the yeast to the ears and Voila! you now have a pet with an ear infection. These infections can progress and build up on the skin. They love moist places like on the belly, or in the armpits. They will build up under matted hair. Severe cases can even infect the skin around the nails, the nails themselves, and get into the blood stream. By keeping your pet regularly bathed, properly brushed, and correctly dried, your groomer can help keep the yeast on your pet's body better balanced. Your groomer can help you keep an eye on your pet's health. By using the same groomer for long periods of time they get to know your pet and can detect and alert you to possible medical conditions that need veterinary attention.
I hope you found this information interesting and informative. Stay tuned for more posts to come!
Lesley Crosby, the founder and owner of Pendleton Pupcakes, LLC, is dedicated to the happy, healthy lives of pets worldwide, and the people who love them.