Redness and slight pink/blood in ears

sweetchastityNovember 20, 2010

Our shipoo pup had some pink fluid in his ears and they are a bit red inside. I mentioned that I thought his ears smelled bad so we think he might have an infection. Mom wants to put baby oil in his ears to see if that relieves it. We are worried because Misty also had ear problems all her life and we can't afford to spend lots of money on vet bills. We are still paying for Misty's and while our vet is reasonably priced we want to be proactive and prevent issues so they don't escalate to the point that we need to go to the vet. Misty had recurring ear infections/irritations because she kept getting table scraps. Well these dogs get lots of table scraps all day long and it took many repeated tries before mom finally accepted that Misty simply couldn't have human food and now its happening again with the puppies and its gonna be hard to convince her to stop.

Will baby oil sooth the ear or make it worse? Would daily cleaning of his ear help prevent this? Anyone with dogs that have floppy ears have this problem? Any advice would be greatly appreciated!!

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Hi there. Real good is not just for 'people.' I'm not clear on what you mean by 'table scraps'? Cooked bones and known foods that are poisonous to dogs are a no, but other than that dogs should eat a balanced diet and good quality real food should be part of that. Key is balance and not overfeeding. If your dogs have chronic ear infections, it's more likely caused by a poor quality "dog food" that is heavy on the corn. Check the ingredients on the kibble you are feeding. If it leads with corn in some form and than repeats with corn fractions and continues with unnamed 'meat' products it's likely poor quality food causing your dogs problems. If you do not want to feed cooked or raw meals, try switching the dog to a high quality food like Canidae, or Taste of the Wild, Verus, EVO, Honest Kitchen. There are others.

And if we adopt dogs, we do need to be prepared to provide vet care when they are ill. If cost is an issue, perhaps look into vet insurance or set aside money each month for the unexpected vet needs.

    Bookmark   November 20, 2010 at 8:39AM
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Floppy ears don't get a lot of fresh air, so they make a great environment for fungus & yeast & other icky things.
Wash them out with soap & water & swab gently with rubbing alcohol (drying agent) on a cotton swab *IF* there are no breaks in the skin.

Since your dog does have miniscule breaks in the skin, you need to use something that wouldn't burn, maybe vinegar (try a tiny bit at first), & try baby oil or mineral oil for a couple of days to soothe the itchiness.

(If the problem is ear mites, sometimes indicated by black "crud" in the ears, oil will smother them.)

I've also had good luck using anti-fungal remedies such as Tinactin.

Table scraps are fine, depending on what they are:
if you're eating buttered pasta all the time, your dog won't get enough nutrition, but if your diet is varied & contains protein & fat, especially animal protein, table scraps are probably better for the dog than the grocery store dog foods whose prime ingredient is corn.

Not everyone can afford to feed the dog raw meat & pay for health insurance.

    Bookmark   November 20, 2010 at 12:57PM
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@cynthia - We are feeding them the development formula our vet sells but when we tried to switch to another brand from the health pet store they both developed diarrhea so we decided to wait until they were a bit older to make the switch. Then mom keeps trying to switch them completely over because when Misty had to switch to the sensitivity diet food the vet said to start on the new food and not wean Misty off the old stuff. So mom has this stuck in her head and argues the point with me even when the pet store also says to wean them.

@sylviatexas - That is what I've heard about floppy ears, though Misty's ears were up, I'm told, since she was born. I found a stray and she had ear mites so I think they'd look the same in dogs and I have not seen anything so far. Just brownish/rusty stains on wipes and cotton swabs. To help clear it up I would think we should clean his ears 1-2x a day but how often after that is enough? Once a week? Or daily?

Table scraps... my mother and I are overweight so we do not eat the balanced meals we should so what the puppies get, least from my mom, is whatever she's eating. Croissants dipped in coffee, chips, cheese, cake, whatever mom eats she's feeding the puppies tastes of. I stick more with meats or fruits but I might give cheese if I'm making something or a taste of cream on my pinky but not every single time I have cheese or something creamy (well ice-cream but I hardly ever have ice-cream in Canada except on warm days, lol).

I try to convince my mom to only give them meat but its like she has no mechanism in place to say when enough is enough. To her food=love. When they snarf down food they must still be hungry and want more (they keep looking for more). If she gives something to one she has to give to the other. She gives dog treats without asking them to do something for them. When we have pot roast or turkey she takes the meat and mixes it up with their dry food.

If any of our pets need to go to the vet we take them and we will gladly pay the cost but we had not thought of having 2 puppies. We got Peanut and the next week my dad brought 2 more (one my brother took). My dad loves dogs and is not a cruel man but he's a terrible hoarder so anytime when I brought up the cost of vet bills to him he'd get angry and say 'don't worry i'll take them home with me and keep them there'. He would too. He lived with an eldery German Sheppard in that terrible house :( He would take the puppy home and live there with it just to spite us, he's a very proud sometimes spiteful man. He also thinks that vets are out to screw him over for money, actually he thinks everyone is trying to do that. He got mad at me for donating to the Humane Society saying they'd sell the stuff off and the animals wouldn't benefit from any of it (there was a case of that in Toronto so he globalized the corruption). He would never think that making the puppies live in a house like that would be cruel or unhealthy because that would mean admitting that the way he lives and the choices he's made that have creating the environment he lives in would be wrong. While logically we knew they were his puppies and he could do whatever he wanted with them we would not let them live in such conditions. He would not mean to hurt them but his ignorance and pride would not give them the home they deserve so my brother took Skipper and we kept Punkin.

We are prepared to do whatever we need to to provide all the care our pets need but we want to avoid any issues that can be prevented with proactive care. Misty suffered her whole life with recurring ear infections/irritations where she scratched incessantly and yelped/whined in pain when her ears were cleaned. We don't want Punkin to have to go through the same thing so I came here.

    Bookmark   November 20, 2010 at 3:09PM
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I am always amazed by the number of 'experts' on food allergies on the various web sites I peruse (usually in my case limited to plants since that is my primary hobby). And one of the most commonly expressed opinions about dog food and its relationship to allergies in dogs is the often maligned corn ingredient. I have done some research on this topic, but I certainly do not consider myself an expert, despite having practiced as a small animal veterinarian for over 24 years. In fact, of all my veterinary colleagues that I know personally, none consider themselves experts on dog or cat food or the ingredients they consist of. I think we as a group tend to be a bit more informed than the average pet owner, however. Still, there are many veterinary nutrition experts out there we refer to and it still is interesting how much is not known about dog food allergies. Yet there do appear to be no shortage of experts in these discussion groups.

I am certainly not going to say that a dog with itchy ears cannot have an allergy to corn. I am sure there are dogs out there with corn allergies and some will have itchy ears. However, I do not understand why corn has been picked out among all the ingredients in dog foods as the bad guy. Research has shown beyond a doubt that beef, chicken, dairy products, soy, wheat and even eggs are more commonly involved in causing allergies and food intolerances in pet dogs. Why are these products not mentioned in these discussions?

And how is one able to diagnose a food allergy versus the far more common allergies such as pollens, other plant materials, house dust mites, fleas, and a myriad of other environmental allergens, just on the basis of a symptom such as itchy ears? Food is in fact a relatively rare allergy in the pet dog. According to the experts in the field only 5-10% of all allergies in dogs have even the remotest relationship to what is in a dog's diet.

Allergies in dogs are indeed most often displayed as itchiness and skin problems, unlike us humans who tend to be more respiratory in our allergic symptoms. There are many people with food allergies and intolerances as well, and often they exhibit primarily gastrointestinal symptoms. Dogs show their intolerances similarly, but true allergies show up usually as itchiness and/or less commonly as stomach,intestine problems. But true food allergies in dogs are far less common than food intolerances. And food allergies are indeed rather difficult to diagnose and distinguish from the more common causes of allergies. If one has a dog that has allergic symptoms that seem to persist year round unabated, then one's suspicion of food allergy should increase. But most allergies in dogs tend to by cyclic or even seasonal, making food allergy far less likely to be the culprit.

Itchy ears is one of the most common symptoms of allergies in dogs, perhaps second only to licking feet, at least in those dogs who do not have a flea allergy. Flea allergies are by far the most common of all allergies in dogs, but those dogs are usually itchy all over or at least around their rump, and rarely is itchy ears the only symptom of a flea allergy. However, itchy ears is very commonly the only symptom of a pollen allergy. And once a dog has allergic itchy ears, secondary yeast and bacterial infections are a common end result.

Ear mites, on the other hand, are a far overdiagnosed cause of itchiness in dog ear problems, and though they do occur, they are almost exclusively limited to puppies or to dogs in situations where they are living with many many other dogs. I have diagnosed maybe 10-15 dogs as having ear mites in the last 24 years as a vet... yet have seen maybe 5000 cases of ear infections/itchy ears in dogs.

So though your dog may indeed, as the above experts have suggested, be allegic to a food, or even be one of those very rare dogs with a corn allergy, I might research other more likely possibilities before you do something drastic like change your dog's diet (and possibly cause a myriad of other problems, like vomiting or diarrhea). Anyway, I hope you discover the cause and find an appropriate treatment.

I understand you may not want to pay for a vet bill right now, but I do have a few suggestions if you want to try some things as home. Cleaning the ears is one that someone did mention, though I would NOT use soap and water. Soap, in particular, is quite irritating to the sensitive tissues of the ear canal, and to the ear drum, and it is not all that easy to get out of the ear once you put it in there. There are many ear cleaners far more suitable for cleaning and rinsing out a dog's ear and you can get most at a pet store. Mineral oil can be a bit soothing, but it too is not easy to get out after it's put in, so do not put in much if that is what you chose to do. It also does very little for the allergy or possible infection that may be going on.. and could conceivably worsen the infection.

You can also try putting in an astringent (drying solution). Some ear cleaners are also astringents, but you can mix alcohol (isopropyl) and white vinegar (3 parts to 1 part)- very similar to what's in swimmer's ear- and apply a few drops into each ear. This may sting if the ear is badly infected or sore from being scratched, but it will tend to dry the ear out (which always helps an ear with fluid in it) and that combination has a pretty good antifungal effect as well (yeast is a super common complication of ear allergies and infections). I do not recommend physically cleaning an ear other than swabbing gunk out gently with a cotton swab only as far down as your finger will go, but rinsing the ear with a cleaning product using a bulb or syringe and massaging the ear canal below the opening (side of a dog's face) will help often dislodge stuff.. and the dog shaking his head will do the rest. This is not as good as getting an ear professionally cleaned or using an ear antibiotic solution/ointment, but it will often help. It will nothing for the allergic problem, though... for that you might try some antihistamines, but I am not comfortable giving you doses.. .you will need to consult your local vet for those- someone who knows your dog and what he/she weighs, etc.

But before you even do the ear rinse thing, you should know that many dogs with ear infections have ruptured ear drums (this is a very common situation). A rupture in an ear drum will mean that anything you put in your dog's ear will go beyond the ear drum into the middle and possibly the inner ear (close to the brain!).. some ingredients that get in this area can cause serious problems (like permanent deafness). For that reason, I always recommend a flushing out of anything you put in there either a sterile saline solution (not always that easy to find) or at least water. Water is not great to leave in an ear, but at least it is relatively benign compared to most ear cleaning solutions, and certainly to soap, peroxide (don't leave that in there... or even use it!), alcohol etc. This is why I still recommend you see your vet, even if it's just to have him/her look at the ear drum and make sure it's intact.

Good luck!!

    Bookmark   November 21, 2010 at 2:59AM
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Just get some gauze and gently clean out your dogs ears on a regular big deal..If they are really bad go get some ears drops and squirt the drops in the dogs ears and squish them around - wear work clothes, the dog is going to shake its head and that usually makes the stuff fly!! Then wipe with gauze.
Keep working on them. Ear infections can lead to some pretty scary symptoms...good luck

    Bookmark   November 21, 2010 at 4:01PM
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wonderful information, lzrddr.

One thing that surprises me is that you've seen so few instances of ear mites;

they're not rare at all here.

    Bookmark   November 22, 2010 at 10:48AM
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I have A LOT of experience with Shih Tzu ear infections....probably more than some Vets who try to make all dog ear remedies the same....

Please do not put anything in the dogs ears without a visit to a GOOD Vet, and discussing the chronic ear problem. The visit and the ear cream shouldn't cost any more than 70-80 bucks, total. Pick up a bottle of ear washing Solution, also.

I've had Shih Tzus all my life. I dealt with regular allergies, food allergies, things associated with poor immune system, Thyroid problems, eye problems, ear problems,Cushings disese, Shih Tzus.

These dogs tend to have some unique problems. YOU as the owner have to be pro-active. I have found that many Vets are better with larger breeds, and do not "specialize" in little dogs. Many little dogs get bad wraps of being a PITA, not getting better.

This is what worked for ALL of my Shih Tzus, immune compromised, or not:
When an infection starts (not complicated), get Panalog oinment, Otomax, or the like, from your Vet. Apply into the ear as directed. After the infection clears, you need to wash the ears out with Nolvasan Solution (I found this one to be the least irritating) ONCE A WEEK. Swab the dirt away afer washing.

I would not put anything into the ear other than an antibiotic, FIRST. When their ears are red and inflamed they're in a lot of pain. Have you ever had an ear infection as an adult? I have.

Please red my post about caring for small, long haired dogs in the "Adopted Shih Tzu Privately..." a few posts below this one. I go over a few things that need to be cared for when owning a Shih Tzu. The same applies to owning a Shipoo.

When owning a dog with floppy ears, and/or ears with hair INSIDE (Shih Tzus,Poodles, and some other breeds have hair in the ears which need to be PLUCKED every 2 months, or you'll get infections galore!!!!!!!!!!!).

I get exasperated on these forums because I feel badly for the animals. People are not educated about some breeds. The Vet just gives you meds....until next time.

Just throwing in some FYI:
Some reasons why dogs get ear infections:
1. Ears not clean; they scratch and create a problem.
2. The hair in the ears is not plucked, therefore the moisture is trapped and festers. Bacteria loves to grow and multiply in a warm moist envoironment. The dog gets an infection.
3. Groomer washes ears, but does not use a drying solution after the wash.
4. Ear mites (immune and cleanliness problem).
5. Immune system compromised because of a THYROID problem, or allergy problem (food and/or other).
6. Other medical, or congenital condition.

I strongly suggest:
-that you go to a Vet and get this infectioned cleared up, with an ear antibiotic first.
-AFTER it resolves(10-14 days), you should wash the ears with a Nolvasan Solution(Vets office or online), or the like Solution, at least once a week. Ask a vet tech to show you how to wash ears properly.
-pluck the ears approx every 2 months. When plucking the ears, use R-7 Ear Powder(? Petsmart, or online). Squeeze some podwer in first. Wait 5 minutes, and pluck the hairs in the ears with a hemostat. Do not use any solutions at that time. The powder will make it easy for the hair to come out, and it will keep the ears dry. You can ask a groomer, or a Vet tech to do this, or to show you how.

This will prevent most of your Vet visits for the ears. Good luck. I hate to see animals suffer because nobody will tell you easy, cheap steps to prevent Vet visits.

    Bookmark   November 22, 2010 at 1:11PM
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maybe our dry California climate? i see earmites in kittens fairly frequently, and in adult cats living in catteries and larger household cat populations occasionally... but never once seen earmites in an adult dog... sometimes puppies (especially petstore puppies). See them in ferrets regularly. And once in a while a horrific case in rabbits. All easy to treat, thankfully (though in larger colony situations it is not easy to completely eradicate in the entire population).

    Bookmark   November 22, 2010 at 4:28PM
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I rarely see ear mites either. Lots of people who just *know* their pets have ear mites but when you actually look at a slide you see yeast and/or bacteria and no mites. Usually in kittens, sometimes in puppies, and I just had a great case in a rabbit (my first rabbit case, actually). Infections with yeast or bacteria are WAY more common.

One of my own dogs, Aleksander, would get an ear infection in the pinna of his right ear only whenever he got bit by a flea, which happened exactly 4 times in his life. But the ear canal would be clean, just the inner pinna infected and inflamed with cocci bacteria. Weird.

I am actually NOT a fan of plucking ear hair unless done under at least sedation with good pain control because it HURTS. I'd rather just shave the hair out with mini clippers. Works great and doesn't hurt.

    Bookmark   November 23, 2010 at 4:46PM
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lzrddr, maybe a more appropriate way of wording it would be "intolerance" rather than "allergy". i have 3 great danes who, if fed chicken in any way, shape or form, will develop explosive diarrhea. i found this out the hard way after much trial and error with different kibbles. i ended up having to feed a limited ingredient kibble that contains no chicken or chicken byproducts. my dogs all do wonderfully on it.

booooo chicken!!!!!

    Bookmark   November 24, 2010 at 7:43AM
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Hey, maybe it's just a coincidence that I've licked the ear infections, and my dogs have been ear-infection free for AGES. Anyway, I'm not a Vet, but am sharing my pro-active approach that has worked for me (my family, my friends, breeders...).

My dogs just lay there and allow me to do it. I usually get the hair out in 2-3 quick plucks. I'm gentle, use R-7 powder, and watch their reaction. My Vet actually does it in ONE pluck. He grabs ALL the inside hairs with a hemostat, twirls it and yanks, so the dog feels one quick pull. It seems brutal, but IMO, the chronic ear infections are 10X worse, and A LOT more painful for 10-14 days at a time ;)

I had one fighter who wouldn't allow me to trim the nails or pluck, so I needed someone to hold her. But as soon as she was done she was one HAPPY pooch. Seeing that she didn't like either the nails or the ears done made me realize that it was fear not pain that made her protest. She eventually came around, and let me pluck the ears, and trim the nails. She would actually make an "ahhh" sound when I would pluck the ears, as though she was relieved of the itch in the ear canal.

A breeder of Shih Tzus many years ago told me that IF the breeder gets the puppies used to plucking BEFORE the age of 8 weeks, it's not a problem, and it actually feels good IF done correctly, because the hairs inside can itch (and it's inside the ear canal, so I'm wondering if shaving with mini clippers would get all the hairs out), which can make them scratch, and start and infection. If they're not used to it, they will protest and cry. Once red and infected they may need "sadation" I agree there.

I realize that by the time a Vet sees a hairy ear dog, the ears are red, painful, swollen, and infected. Plucking them at that time is pure torture, so is pouring any irritating solution, other than an antibiotic ;)
That is why I suggested taking care of the infection first, then plucking, and using the R-7 powder. The powder makes it easy to pluck. Hey, I've even used my fingers to quickly pull the hair out, 5 min after applying R-7. It's THAT easy! When plucking, one should cut/shave, and be very careful around the ear canal so not to pluck the hairs outside of the ear canal. THAT is painful. But IF you only pull the hair inside, using the proper powders, it should be quick, and painless.

My opinion is that a little prevention, avoids A LOT of pain and infections.....and Vet visits.

    Bookmark   November 24, 2010 at 8:00AM
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"She would actually make an "ahhh" sound when I would pluck the ears, as though she was relieved of the itch in the ear canal. "

as someone who worked as a groomer for a number of years I agree with that, dogs do seem to get some relief when you get all that hair out but where there is a build of hair there's often moisture or fungus/bacteria IMO. I think if it is painful for them then they either have sore ears already, or it's being done wrong.

ear infections are so common in dogs, keeping the ears clean of hair, and using an ear cleaner regularly especially after bathing goes a long way to preventing ear problems so don't wait until they flare up, just do regular maintenance. when I got my last dog she had a very mild yeast infection and it drove her nuts, I was really surprised when the vet said there was very little yeast there because she was going out of her mind scratching her ears but it just goes to show how irritating ear problems can be.

me, I won't mess around with ear problems, they go straight to the vet for drops but I also do the maintenance so it's rare that my dogs will need to see a vet for ear problems so it's never an ongoing problem and it just comes down to maintenance.

    Bookmark   November 26, 2010 at 3:34AM
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