Snow Leopard

Snow Leopard
Snow Leopard cub (7 mos old) - Cape May County Zoo

Monday, May 13, 2013

It's Probably NOT Ear Mites

Other than in kittens and occasionally puppies, we don't see ear mites as the most common cause of ear problems in pets, especially adult dogs.

Pet owners, however, seem to assume this IS the likely problem, run out and get an over the counter "ear mite" treatment, to find, that it doesn't work. That's when I see them.

Ear problems are one of the top 10 reasons we see dogs. While every breed can be affected, it is those "floppy eared" breeds like Goldens, Labs, Cockers, hounds, etc that are more likely to have a problem.  This is because there is much less air flow and more humidity in these ears versus a straight up ear breed like a German Shepherd. 

While what we see is often an infection, there is usually also an underlying allergy component. This can be an allergy to a food component/s and/or inhalant agents. It's not always easy to get to the bottom of this. Diet trials must be done with 8-12 weeks of an EXCLUSIVE diet that involves a novel protein and carb source (one your dog's body has not seen). This means no treats, no table food, etc. NONE. Not even a "small piece." Many dog foods have common components and your dog may be reacting to one of those. Also, grain is not evil and not the cause of all allergies. This is the current "fad" that people think is the miracle cure. When I was in vet school, it was "lamb and rice." The thing is, when all the foods started having lamb and rice, guess what? It was not something "new" to our dogs immune systems. There is no ONE cure for all dogs. Each dog is different. I've seen dogs allergic to egg, chicken, beef, soy and other components. Speak to your veterinarian about what is the best way to start trying to find out what your dog is reacting to. 

Inhalant allergies can often been found via a blood test or referral to a veterinary dermatologist for the "gold standard" - a skin test. 

In the meantime, you will need to clean and treat those ears. You also need to be prepared for the fact that this is not something we often "cure" but more often manage.

It is for this reason that it is important that you get your puppy used to having his or her ears touched. You should play with them, massage them and wipe them out. I recommend unscented baby wipes. Then when they are 70 lbs they won't be fighting with you for the treatment needed to help them. Oral meds are NOT better than direct topical treatment and often are very expensive because of the type of antibiotics needed to treat these types of infections. 

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