Chronic ear infection - any ideas for treatment?

pompeiiJuly 31, 2009

I recently adopted a 6 yr old female yorkie from a woman who could no longer care for her. She was originally a Petland puppy so she came from a puppy mill and no doubt was bred without any regard to congenital health issues. I think she has some daschund mixed in because her body is too long to be a yorkie (I jokingly refer to her as a "dorkie") and her ears don't stand up like a yorkies.

Anyway, she has ear infections that have been plaguing her for years because her ears have what is called "excessive ear folds". It's hard to even tell where the ear canal is, making it a challenge to get the medication where it needs to be. I've had her to the vet twice and have tried 3 different medications: Tri-otic, which the original owner was using; Mometamax and Keto Flush, which my vet gave me when the Tri-otic didn't work; and then I purchased Zymox, when the Mometamax wasn't effective. The first two actually seemed to make the problem worse - her ears were red and she scratched and shook her head all the time. On the Zymox, even though her ears are still smelly, they aren't red and she doesn't seem to be uncomfortable anymore.

My basic question is, since the Zymox hasn't actually cured the infection from what I can tell, has anyone had success with a medication or treatment that is super effective on yeast infections? My vet did a swab and confirmed that it is yeast. She says the next step is ablation surgery which is unfortunately too expensive for me to consider.

To compound things, the little girl is blind in one eye (attacked by previous owner's other dog) and already can barely hear due to the ear problems. I think this is the real reason the woman got rid of her - she was probably told by her vet that surgery was the only option left. She denied to me that the dog had ear problems and said it was "just an infection."

I really want to keep her, but since the surgery is out, I can't let her suffer with ear infections all the time. Hopefully someone out there has faced and solved this problem!

Here's my little "dorkie":

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I'd have to see the dog but when my patients have really bad ear infections, I use systemic antibiotics, topical antibiotics in the ear, and prednisone to address the inflammation. As you mentioned, getting medication to the source of the problem is almost impossible when the canal is slammed shut with inflammation. If it isn't just inflammation causing occlusion of the ear canal, then she probably needs some sort of corrective surgery, or a TECA depending on the condition of the canal. But you're not going to get anywhere pouring goop into the ear when it's closed off.

    Bookmark   July 31, 2009 at 8:46AM
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First of all, she's ADORABLE ;)

It sounds as though you may need ear medication on hand at all times, or surgery.

I'm not sure if this will help, but I've had Shih Tzus all my life and they are prone to ear infecions because of the hair growing inside the ears, which trap moisture and bacteria festers.
I'm guessing that the extra folds(trap moisture) must have similar effect on your baby's ears.

I use Nolvasan twice weekly. It's an ear wash which cleanses the ears, brings out the debris, and dries it up so bacteria don't multiply. I pour it into the ear canal, work it in at the base (or folds in in your case). Wipe it with cotton balls/Q-tips. Using this method, they have not had an infection in ages.

    Bookmark   July 31, 2009 at 8:53AM
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She is so cute!

Since you said it was a yeast infection, I'm thinking about my old dog who had floppy ears and chronic problems with yeast infections in them.

We used OTC miconazole in her ears with pretty decent results. Sometimes we used the human woman yeast infection cream, and sometimes we used the human foot powder- just had to make sure it was miconazole. The foot powder tends to dry things out (if that's needed) and we never had much problem with it caking up in her ears, though we did carefully clean her ears from time to time with doggy ear wash. It sounds like access into the ear is really limited, but I thought I'd mention this and maybe you can ask your vet if trying these products in an option. Abby always seemed to get a lot of very quick relief and comfort whenever we used one of these on her for a yeast ear infection.

FWIW, the meds we got at the vet never helped Abby for very long. Time and again we went back to miconazole in one form or another.

    Bookmark   July 31, 2009 at 10:21AM
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I don't have any advice for you,I have bassets and so far they have been blessed with good ears.I just wanted to say that dog is adorable.Good luck.Debbie

    Bookmark   July 31, 2009 at 4:50PM
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Thanks, all, for the suggestions. Yes, she is a sweetie and I'd love to figure this out so I can keep her. I'm out of town for a few days right now, but I'll check out the suggested medications when I get back.

In the meantime, if anyone else has a doggie with stubborn ear problems and had found THE cure, please let me know! Thanks.

    Bookmark   August 2, 2009 at 10:40AM
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No such thing as THE cure.

Miconazole is great for yeast, but won't work at all if you can't get the medication to the source of infection, as with closed up ear canal. Sounds like your vet thinks TECA is the best option. Without being able to open the ear canal surgically, you're fighting a losing battle that costs the dog a lifetime of pain and suffering.

Have you tried CareCredit to allow you to pay off surgery over time? Tried to price shop the surgery? Specialists are not the only vets who do TECAs; I can do them as does my boss, and we are *significantly* less expensive than the vet school and specialty practices in the area.

Hopefully the little cutie gets some relief soon.

    Bookmark   August 2, 2009 at 5:09PM
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I have english bulldogs, who also tend to get ear infection. The last time my baby had her ear infected, I cleaned them at least once a day everyday, with Maleseb. After about a month the infection was completely gone and i have not seen a repeat episode. I still check her ears frequently, but now she only has to get them cleaned occasionally, and I put Malaseb in. But I seriously had to clean her ears every day. If I missed just one day, you saw a difference. Also every time she gets a bath or is in water, I put Malaseb in to dry her ears out.

    Bookmark   August 2, 2009 at 6:07PM
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