WHAT TO DO WITH EAR CONDITIONS THAT ARE HARD TO TREAT
If you have read these articles, I would like to remind you that ear problems are usually slow to heal because commonly, many dogs’ ears have been treated by severe suppressive therapies.
These treatments give us the illusion that things are better, but in reality ear products containing steroids, including Panalog, Otomax and Surolan suppress the body’s natural healing response and therefore, work against the body. They put the immune system to sleep but as soon as we stop giving them, the problems reappear and are frequently worse.
In fact, I compare the use of steroids for ear treatment with pushing garbage in a garbage bin rather than emptying it regularly. Eventually, the garbage in the bin will start rotting.
THE BIGGEST CHALLENGE
Treating ears is like climbing a mountain without a chair lift or gondola. Many people get discouraged, get lazy, start taking shortcuts or get lost in the impenetrable bush.
In the case of ears, whatever is suppressed has to come out and it usually does with irritation, scratching and itching. To me, this is the most challenging part of ear treatment because most people get emotional seeing their dog scratching.
The good news is that with good guidance the ears will eventually get better. But it may take weeks or even months for the body to settle down.
Using steroids just delays what the body needs to do.
WHAT TO DO IN THIS CRITICAL TIME
There is no simple answer for what to do when ears get bad.
I did say that the ears often reflect the level of toxins in the liver and digestive tract health and balance. That is why it is so important to be guided by an experienced practitioner. Each holistic vet has a different approach to ears, and I have learned that it is very important to make your dog comfortable. Here is what I usually do.
1. Prevent ear scratching and further trauma by using an inflatable collar. I like Pro Collar because it prevents dogs from scratching, but it gives them more comfort than a regular Elizabethian collar.
3. Remember that using any ear drops without doing a full body cleanse and/or changing your dog’s diet will not give you results. Try to resist the temptation to jump to the cheapest part of the treatment because doing so usually gets more costly down the road.
4. If the ears have a cheese-like smell or are really sore, I suggest you get a bacterial culture done. There is a good chance that excessive washing and cleaning introduced aggressive bacteria to the ear canal.
5. In a few urgent and really acute situations, I use Baytril Otic as a last resort. Some people may be surprised that I would use antibiotics, but I have never said that drugs are never needed. My issue with them is that they are badly overused and overprescribed. I compare antibiotics to a crutch. Sometimes they are needed, but practitioners often use them when they do not know what is going on.
Baytril Otic is one of the few antibiotics that do not have corticosteroids. However, an ear culture should be done before prescribing it to make sure that this antibiotic is the correct one.
6. The antibiotic treatment should be done for at least two to three weeks. Ear cleaning should be done only once before beginning treatment. With rare exceptions, I do not recommend repeated cleaning during the course of antibiotics.
Excessive cleaning will increase the chance of creating bacterial resistance or may introduce another more aggressive bug.
WHAT TO DO WHEN THE VICIOUS CYCLE CONTINUES?
Sometimes people forget about not giving cheese, grain based treats, yogurt or milk products. I have learned that even the smallest amount of junk can result in your dog reacting again.
It is normal to be anxious and worry about your dog. Let me reassure you that most ear cases are more dramatic and less serious. I have seen no dog dying of ear problems, but many dogs are seriously damaged by drugs and surgery that are used to treat ear problems.
Ear treatment used to be the least favorite part of my veterinary practice. Over time I have learned that with patience and good communication they can be treated successfully. I think I have said before that dogs come to us to teach us how to love and be patient?
© Dr. Peter Dobias, DVM