My lab has had off/on ear infections, but the most recent one has lasted approx. 2 months and I have noticed what appear to be growths in his ear. When I compare the infected ear to the health ear, the growths are so much that it looks like two sides of his inner ear are touching, when they shouldn't be. We saw the vet at the onset and did the cleaning and meds, but nothing has helped. Any idea what these 'growths' could be?
Constant recurring ear infections or ear infections that are left untreated can cause scar tissue to form. There are also some growths/tumors that occur in the ear. I'd get it checked out.
Also, if your dog is having constant recurring ear infections then it strongly suggests that there is some type of allergy going on. Without treating the underlying cause, you may never get rid of the ear infections.
Thank you. My vet indicate it was probably an allergy if he has had them in the past before, but that was all he said about it (he's a new vet due to my relocation). Should I have requested allergy testing?
You need to go back to the vet or perhaps find another vet. Ear infections are terribly painful - can you imagine having one for two months without relief? If your vet isn't interested in making your dog feel better than perhaps you need to get another opinion.
While it is true that lots of ear problems arise from food certainly not all of them do. It is important to find out what is causing the infection and to treat it accordingly. At this point I would certainly have a culture done so that you can treat the existing infection with an appropriate antibiotic. After that I would try a food change and see if that gets you anywhere.
Allergy testing is expensive. Murray's was $800 which included his 1st $200 vial of allergy serum. It would quickly diagnose the issue though. It's up to you if you want to go that route at this time. There is also a simple blood test that you vet can give which will give you some info but it won't be as inclusive as the more expensive skin testing.
There are several other things you can do on your own.
First, keep a diary of the ear infections. See if you notice a pattern. For example was it after swimming/baths, a certain time of the year, or no pattern at all.
Next try to eliminate all common food allergens from his diet. This is very tough but if you see improvement, it is worthwhile. You have to watch his food/treat intake closely and note any changes. The best ones will be the ones with the least amount of ingredients.
Talk to your vet about using an antihistamine. There are 4 approved for dogs. If one doesn't work, another one might.
I treated Murray for 2 yrs with over the counter antihistamines, then 1 yr with prednisone before trying allergy testing. The reason we didn't go directly to allergy testing is that my vet and I (correctly) believed that Murray's allergies were seasonal/environmental. She told me that if I tested him I would get back a list of 25-30 things that Murray is allergic too, none of which I can control...(also true). He has been taking allergy injections for 9 months now and only see slight improvement. I've been told it can take a yr or more for the injections to start working.
Here is a link to Murray's allergy vet. http://www.dermvet.com/ There is a section on pre/post treatment pictures. One of the pictures (around the 6th or 7th photo in) is a picture of the ear of a dog with food allergies showing the ear canal swollen closed. Maybe one of the photos can help you figure out what is going on with your dog's ears.
I'd 2nd Labsrme's advice to get a culture done so you know what type of infection you are dealing with. If your vet does not seem concerned or educated about allergies and ear infections, I'd find another vet. You can always see a specialist without getting the testing done. I know my specialist talked to me about several other options (many of which I had already tried with our regular vet).
Thank you so much for all the great advice. I feed him Eukanuba, large breed. I have tried Science Diet and also Iams. I did make another appt with the vet and will see how he responds to my inquiries and will change vets if I have to. Poor guy! I did a little online research and found a condition that involves polyps in the ear and am wondering if that's what the bumps could be. There is still brown gunk, red, swollen and then small white 'growths' down inside on the tip of a part.
That's what I'm cleaning Oona's ears with now and she hasn't had a problem with it. You might try and find a food that doesn't have any wheat or corn in it. That's what I did. I give her Nature's Recipe Lamb Barley and Rice and its been working well.