I have one question that I cannot find resolution; that’s with chronic ears, yeast infections. Now this is a very hard/tough dog that will bite you if not handled carefully. So I need something for maintenance that’s ingestible.

~ Steve

Dr Sara ChapmanDear Steve,

Actually, you have two problems. The most significant one, to my mind, is the behaviour of your dog.

Any dog will bite if threatened or in pain. Pain from infected ears can be so bad that a dog may bite when the ears are handled. All dogs can be trained to accept handling of all body parts when the parts are not painful. I strongly advise you to start working with a positive trainer, using non-force methods, to get your dog to willingly accept handling of non-painful body parts. In time, with consistent work, you will be able to progress to handling sensitive parts without biting problems. I examine well trained Schutzhund dogs with no fear; the most dangerous dogs are those – large or small – who are not taught to cooperate. It is a major problem in animal health care when a person brings in a dog that is not able to cooperate for examination.

Right now, though, your dog has painful ears, and you need to help him. The ears are a moist, enclosed area of skin, so all of the issues associated with skin infections and allergic reactions are true for the ears. Yeast infections occur when the normal yeast present on the skin overgrow because of the moist conditions and an underlying immune system weakness. This is made worse by antibiotic treatment as the normal bacteria are killed off, allowing the yeast to flourish unchecked. Chronic skin and ear disorders are challenging and frustrating cases to treat. The skin is the largest organ of the body, and problems here often reflect a weakness in other internal organs. When skin problems are treated by the use of immune suppressants and antibiotics, the underlying organ weaknesses can worsen. A holistic approach to chronic skin disease works to strengthen the entire body so that skin problems can heal from within.

Ensure that your dog is in optimal internal health: free of internal and external parasites, not suffering from chronic liver or kidney problems, minimally vaccinated, and receiving an excellent diet. Nutrition is often overlooked in skin and ear disorders, but a minimally processed diet with supplements chosen for anti-inflammatory properties will dramatically help many patients.

There are specific treatments for chronic yeast ear infections. Chinese and Western herbal medicines, depending on your dog’s signs, can be helpful. Most dogs eat herbal medicines in their food with no problem. Constitutional homeopathic prescribing with a competent veterinary homeopath will help not only your dog’s ears, but his attitude as well. Homeopathic remedies are never put in food, but they can be given in a little bit of water, and most dogs accept them readily as they do not taste bad.

If your dog’s ears are severely inflamed or full of debris at this time, you may need to have him sedated for a thorough examination and cleaning. After that, you can start to work with the oral medications and supplements which you and your holistic vet determine are appropriate for his condition. Please be sure to start work as soon as possible with a positive reinforcement trainer. A dog who knows how to behave is a pleasure to be around, and well mannered dogs have a much more full and enjoyable life.


S.F. Chapman DVM, MRCVS, VetMFHom

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