Chronic Ear Infections – Q & A with Shawn Messonnier, DVM

Q: ”My dog suffers from chronic ear infections. He is a golden retriever. My veterinarian regularly prescribes Otomax for these and advises me to clean his ears weekly with Nolvasan Otic solution. Is this the best regimen for him? Is there anything else I can do?”

A:”I wonder if the Otomax even works anymore since this has been used chronically in your dog’s ears. Do we know what type of infection (bacteria, yeast, mites) are causing your dog’s repeated infections? Only a microscopic examination (cytology) of the ear discharge can tell us this. If chronic bacterial infections occur, ear cultures plus oral medications (in addition to ear drops) are needed. In my practice, most ear infections are the result of yeasts; pets treated incorrectly with antibiotics (drops or oral medicines) will never get better and will in fact worsen. Keep in mind that your breed of dog is prone to ear infections, but also prone to allergies (which are a common reason for chronic ear problems.) Unless the allergies are correctly treated (and not with just repeated doses of steroids!,) your dog’s ear problems will never go away. Here’s what I suggest. Get the correct diagnosis. Treat underlying problems such as allergies. The ears should be flushed (and anesthesia will probably be needed) before you treat them with the appropriate drops. I’ve had success with various supplements (olive leaf, Echinacea, etc.) in treating chronic ear problems. Once the problem is corrected, regular ear cleaning (several times a week at a minimum) must be done to prevent frequent recurrences.

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Written by Shawn Messonnier DVM

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