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Black Lab - cruddy ears

Posted by hrajotte (My Page) on
Tue, Jun 8, 10 at 13:35

Hi all,
I'm new to this forum, and am hoping someone can offer advice.
We have a 5-year old neutered male English Black Lab whose ears get a smelly, black crud in them, both on the inside of his ear flaps and in his ear canals. It is worse in the spring and summer, especially when it is humid. His ears lie flat against his head, unlike our Chocolate lab, whose ears jut out a bit and allow better air circulation.
The vet thinks it is a food allergy, and wants us to try prescription food that costs $180 a month! I believe it is a seasonal allergy thing, exacerbated by humidity. We have tried several different brands of food (Iams, Pedigree, Purina, and Eukanuba,) with no apparent impact. Sometimes, one ear is worse that the other, but over time, one is probably no worse than the other.
I clean his ears with Cerulytic 1-2 times a week, inserting several drops into each ear canal, and wiping the ear flap with a cotton ball moistened with Cerulytic. If the ears are very dirty, I'll wipe the wall of the ear canal with a moistened swab, inserting it no more than 1/2 inch or so, being careful not to push any crud further in. It seems to clean effectively, but I'm wondering if anyone has any other preventative ideas (other than the Rx food, which I cannot afford) or any different cleaning methods. The dog does not particularly enjoy this ear cleaning procedure.
Thanks for any advice!

Follow-Up Postings:

RE: Black Lab - cruddy ears

Just keep up the cleaning routine. The way dogs ears lie has a tremendous impact on how dirty they get...Your vet may be right, but I would stick with a good dog food - not one you can get at the grocery store but one you buy from a pet store. Ask the clerk to help you get something without corn or wheat or other fillers or you can purchase bulk meat and rice and cook for your dog. Adding veggies and fruit to keep up the fiber. As for your dog not liking the cleaning - slow down when you do this, we humans are kinda fast when it comes to this kind of thing. So make it a nice time for your dog, start with a massage and work your way to his ears while he is lying down. Give him a treat or two (natural balance duck and potato meat sticks - cubes into small pieces should do the trick) Take your time your dog will enjoy it much better and so will you...Good luck and keep up the good work - cleaning ears is important and should be done routinely not matter if the dogs ears get bad or not, yo may want to clean your other dogs ears as well. Dirty ears can lead to all sorts of problems including seizures...

RE: Black Lab - cruddy ears

can't remember exactly, as it's been a number of years, but it seems like my vet had me use Tinactin, an anti-fungal, in my old Golden's ears.

She was always getting some crud, even yeast infections, in those long ears.

RE: Black Lab - cruddy ears

Many thanks for your advice!
I've also thought of using a moistened baby wipe for ear cleaning. I imagine if it's gentle enough for a baby's bottom, it'd be OK for ear cleaning. The Cerulytic works, but it has a scent that is not especially pleasant.

RE: Black Lab - cruddy ears

Start feeding your dog some plain yogurt each day - 2 or 3 tablespoons. This will balance yeast vs. bacteria, and prevent the yeast infection. Make sure the yogurt has no added sugar.

Clean his ears with diluted white vinegar - if possible, get all natural vinegar from a health food store. 1 teaspoon vinegar to 1/2 cup water.

Change his food to something low in carbohydrates. Corn is probably the worst offender in dog food. It's one of the many fillers used. The best would actually be a grain free food, like Wellness Core. You can get it at Petco and Petsmart. It's pricey, but will benefit your dog in many ways. There are other brands with low or no grains.

Avoid giving your dog any treat or food with added sugar. If you see anything on the list below as an ingredient, it's sugar:

Cane molasses
corn syrup in any form
ammoniated glycyrrhizin
propylene glycol
barley malt
beet sugar (sugar beets are OK though - they are a source of fiber and have little sugar left after processing for dog food.)

More types of sugar, typically not found in dog food, but good to know anyway:
cane-juice crystals
carob syrup
diastatic malt
ethyl maltol
fruit juice
fruit juice concentrate
glucose solids
invert sugar
malt syrup
refiner's syrup
sorghum syrup

RE: Black Lab - cruddy ears

Many posters - me included - have indicated great success dealing with chronic ear infections by putting our dogs on a raw food diet.

My fuzzy, flop-eared, water-loving Toller had 2 ear infections by 10 months. I started feeding a raw diet, and he is now 2-1/2 and we have had no further problems.

If you are not interested in feeding raw, I agree with weed30 that you should try switching to a grain-free commercial product.


RE: Black Lab - cruddy ears

My lab had stinky, yucky ears much of her life.

I found powder solutions to work better because they seemed to dry out the crud. Sometimes I would switch back and forth between a powder and wet cleaning agent. The powder never seemed to cake in her ears, we would put just a small amount in and she would shake out any excess. She loved the powders, they seemed to calm the itching and she would be so relaxed afterward.

We used a product called 8 in 1 ear powder. I believe it is still available. It smells a little odd, but it did seem to help. We also used OTC anti-fungal foot powder made for people- any variety with miconizole as the main ingredient. This smelled better and may have been her preference. It seemed to be a consensus among vets that she had yeast issues in her ears, so we were comfortable using an anti-yeast product.

We switched her around to so many foods. The last variety she was on was Purina ProPlan for sensitive stomachs and she ate that for several years- it is salmon based as I recalled, but did seem to help. Dog breath was something else though!

Good luck with your dog. I use to threaten to buy the pink hair tape that my grandmother used, and use that to tape the dog's ears open on top of her head so they could dry out regularly. I never did actually do that though.

RE: Black Lab - cruddy ears

Get their ears clean , and you propably have never heard this q tips and your fingers can do wonders , I clean my dogs ears every day she looks forward to it and comes to me for matainance . a dogs ears itch so puting your fingers in there not only cleans them but kina itches em
do not push in more wax in the canal you must be careful.I know it will get LOLs but it works for me plus my DOBIE doesnt have any hair in her ears.

RE: Black Lab - cruddy ears

You don't have to use a prescription diet to start a novel protein diet. None of the foods you mentioned are high-end foods; medium quality at best. As mentioned before, raw diets are best but if that isn't doable then I'd recommend Natural Balance, Solid Gold, California Natural, Wellness, Evo, Taste of the Wild, and other all natural single protein and carbohydrate foods without artificial colors, flavors, or grains. I've been happy with Natural Balance Venison or Fish and potato food, available at most pet stores without a prescription and at much better cost than $180/month unless you are severely overfeeding!

The most important aspects of an allergy food trial are 1) choosing a protein and carbohydrate source that your dog has never had before and 2) feeding NOTHING but the diet for 8 weeks before expecting a response. That means no treats, no flavored heartworm preventative or anything for 8 weeks.

Cleaning the ears is great, but if they are infected by yeast or bacteria you're going to need medicine, not a cleaner. The only way to tell if there is an infection and what type of infection is present is an ear cytology read by a vet. You can't solve an ear infection by cleaning alone. Also may need systemic antibiotics and/or antifungal medications, topical antifungal and/or bacterial medications, systemic antifungal and/or antibiotic medications, topical and/or systemic anti-inflammatory medications. I tend to use topical and systemic medications as needed based on the cytology, plus systemic and topical anti-inflammatory medications based on the degree of patient discomfort and clinical signs. Most dogs with severe and chronic changes go home on topical, systemic and anti-inflammatory meds, plus the diet change.

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