Treating Regular Labrador Ear Irritation

by Debbie Fidler

Reader Question: How to treat dog ear irritation?

My 6 year old lab has a regular ear irritation, he has been allergy tested but came back with really slight levels, not enough to cause the problem. On the vets advice we have changed his food to Wainwrights, basic, pure potato & salmon with nothing else to eat. After 4 weeks we will begin to gradually introduce the treats / biscuits that he used to have to see if we can find the trigger. The inside of his ear flap fills with blood, haematoma, when we have to take him to the vets to get it drained. We clean his ears weekly with a cleaner which has a steroid in it, and clean more often when it flares up.

Can you please advise of anything else that we can do and are we on the right track to trying to find out what is the trigger for the irritation.

Vet Suggestions for Treating Dog Ear Irritation

Auricular hematomas in dogs, especially on the concave surface of the ear flaps are most commonly associated with atopic dermatitis or food allergy. In either case, it is necessary to identify the allergen before kicking off any systematic treatment.

Now, you are already on track to identify any possible food allergen, but did you consider looking for possible atopic or environmental allergens? I am sure, your veterinarian is already considering this aspect of the problem.

Similarly, clearing or draining the hematomas is a necessary part of treatment, something you are already doing it in combination with steroids. Drainage and steroid instillation is usually successful in 50% of all cases, therefore determining the allergen is critical. It is also recommended that, along with drainage & localized steroid instillation, one should also administer low doses of oral anti-inflammatory corticosteroid drugs. You can discuss it with your veterinarian if it is needed for your dog, something that is common to do in such cases.

While the veterinarian is trying to identify the allergen and you are doing almost everything possible to keep symptoms under control, make sure that your dog doesn’t catch a bacterial or yeast infection. Using an anti-bacterial and/or hypoallergenic shampoo should help. You can ask your veterinarian to recommend a good shampoo, suitable for your dog.

Umer Ahmed Bangash, DVM

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