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I have a 3 year old French Bulldog. For the past year, his left ear has had chronic ear infections - off and on. The right ear has never had any problems.

W have him on Holistic Blend Grain Free for Dogs for about a year and a half. It has high Omega-3 for his coat as he also has problems with Fungus infections of his skin. The Holistic Blend has kept that in check, along with Duoxo Shampoo, to the point now that he rarely has more than one or two spots.

Back to the left ear problem (again, its only the left ear). He's always had brown gunk in the left ear for a year now. We clean it and treat it with Otomax or Oridermyl and its good for a while, but comes right back. We wash it regularly with Epi-Otic.

Now, this past month, the brown gunk has turned black. Our vet swears its not mites. She has him on antibiotic pills for a week (now over) and two weeks of allergy meds. She believes its a food allergy and instructed us to not give him any treats.

We've stopped giving him Danon low sugar yogurt (1-2 tablespoons/day) and bits of a boiled egg every day. And no more doggy training treats.

But he still gets just a piece (1 sq inch) of bread and a few small pieces home-made dried chicken we make in food dryer (boiled only with nothing added).

The problem with all this is he lives for FOOD! So its really hard on him 'cause he doesn't understand why he doesn't get any more treats.

And our yet has taken him off all ear oils (otomax, Oridermyl, etc) and is just cleaning him daily with Epi-Otic until no more gunky comes out (usually 4-5 deep cleanings) and wants it to heal on its own because its been over medicated.

She says he's getting better, but she pulls so much black gunk out of his ears every day, we are getting worried.

My questions are:
Can this really be a food allergy only affecting one ear?
Could it be the Holistic Blend causing this?
Would switching to a simpler brand/mixture (like Acana Singles Duck and Bartlett Pear) help?
Should we cut out the home-made dried Chicken treats as well?
Do you think our vet is on the right track?
How long should it take for a food-allergy ear infection to clear up?
What kind of treats could we give him that are allergy safe? (Home made is better - I don't trust a lot of corporate-made treats)

Thank you all and sorry this is such a long post.
BTW: His name is 'Thor' or 'Lei Lei' as we live in China.
 

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I am not a vet and don't know French bulldogs, so take this with a grain of salt. I think people generally place too much emphasis on diet, and I think there is room for skepticism about food allergy as being the problem.
My very practical US vet suggested quitting epi-otic and using a mixture of 1 part water, 1 part distilled vinegar (or other 3-4% vinegar), 1 part 70% rubbing alcohol. The alcohol dries the ear out. The vinegar creates an environment unfavorable for yeast growth. The water dilutes and makes it less strong for the dog. She started me off with an antibiotic to get rid of any bacterial growth that might be present initially.
Her advice was that the way you apply is as important as what you apply. Her suggestion: put the water/vinegar/alcohol mixture into a squeeze dispenser of the sort used in the US for ketsup or mustard, totally flood the dog's ear, let them shake it out, then clean out the outer ear with a cotton ball or soft tissue. Do not try to clean down the ear canal! Do this periodically . . . and any time you sense gunk building up in the ear.
 

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the water/vinegar/rubbing alcohol mixture is really commonly used to prevent swimmer's ear in kids and teens like at summer camp and on swim teams. So I can easily see how it could be useful for dog ear cleaning.

BTW, if by the Dannon "low sugar" yogurt, you mean the kind with artificial sweetener, definitely stop feeding that. None of the artificial sweeteners are safe for dogs, some appear to be worse than others.

if you think it is a food allergy, then you need to do a real food trial. Which means one single protein food and no treats. 6-8 weeks minimum to see if he improves. It doesn't tell you anything if you switch foods but still give bread and chicken and still see problems because you don't know if its the chicken, the bread, the food, or none of the above.

For homemade treats in general, cooked meats like the boiled chicken you already make are good. Raw carrots are popular. Some dogs like apple (raw or cooked), banana (raw), sweet potato (cooked) Many fruits and veggies are safe, just google them first if you aren't sure.
 

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Discussion Starter #4
Thanks for the advice.
We're cooking up some carrots and sweet potato treats now and putting away the dried chicken and bread.
We translated the Dannon "Low Sugar" Yogurt (called "Sour-Milk" here) and found some "Frutose" something in it - so that's goes in the human-only pile.
Still considering a total switch in dog foods. The Acana v. Holistic Blend I mentions before only has four common ingredients (and none are on the common food allergy list): Chicory Root, Kelp, Pears, Pumpkin.
The Holistic blend has Salmon (which as a 'fish', I think is part of the common food allergy list).
 

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Is this yeast? If yes, I had a yeasty dog & after years of no infections, they came back with a vengeance. The only thing that worked was a change to raw. I feed ground raw, NOT a premade as almost all of them have fruits and/or veggies that can feed yeast.

I found Zymox to be the best thing to treat the infections.
 

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I am going to second the suggestion for Zymox. They are over the counter & work great at clearing up my dog's ear infections, even when she was getting resistant to several antibiotics.
 

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Also want to point out that some dogs are just yeasty. I have a dog with chronic ear infections (yeast) as well. I'm pretty well versed in combating them. It takes a lot of maintenance and preventative measures to keep her comfortable. She's on Evo Salmon/herring as that's the only thing that has worked as far as food goes so far. You want to avoid potatoes, chickpeas, and as low starch as possible. Low gylcemic foods. She gets apple cider vinegar in her food and water, digestive enzymes. Her ears are cleaned daily with equal parts vinegar and rubbing alcohol, and Zymox if they are starting to flare up. On days when it is humid I try to really make sure her ears are thoroughly cleaned.

I would try switching foods and see if it helps at all, it would be nice and simple if a change in protein clears it right up.
 

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have you had the gunk tested to see if it's yeast, fungus, bacterial or all three, makes a difference in what you use to treat it..... when you talk about food allergies, you could be talking about chicken any part of chicken parts, and Dairy like from the yogurt. You can get probiotics that are not in dairy form. I started my journey with B-Naturals products.. They have an extensive achive of information to read. It took my guys 3 years for their bodies to recover.. There was no magic pill that made them better.... all I could do was manage their exposure to what caused the reactions, when you can stop the reactions it helps the body to start healing........ In Colorado they were on exemptions from vaccines since their immune system was not healthy and not functioning correctly. if you cant' get exemptions then you should be extreme minimal in what you ask their immune system to process..
 

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Discussion Starter #9
Thanks everyone!
The Dr. tested it and said its bacterial. He has had Yeast & Fungal infections in the past.
We've taken him off chicken, bread, & yogurt and giving him small amounts of dehydrated toasted carrots and sweet potato - which he likes just as much as he did the chicken.
His ears are getting better, we clean them once a day (flushing them twice). He goes back to the vet for a re-examination to see how its going, but we are no longer getting any gunk out of his ears when we clean them (and we are doing exactly as the Vet showed us). So we are hopeful.
We still have him on Holistic Blend Grain Free for Dogs, but depending on his re-examination results, we may switch him to Acana Singles Duck and Pear.
Finger's crossed.
 

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am glad your seeing some success... always check the full list of ingredients and all over the bag as some put special ingredients in other areas on the bag... what use to always get me is a lot of the different types of protein kibbles, were still using chicken fat in them... and that was enough to cause a reaction in one of my guys...
 

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I'm a little late here but make sure you know how to clean a dog's ears. Zoey had chronic ear infections in one ear when she was a pup, I never cleaned her ears or our last dog's ears so I had no clue. Anyway, there is a method in cleaning them that gets down to the ear drum and you need to message the outer area with the cleaning fluid/ointment inside the ear in order to get it there. According to the Vet a dog's ear canal is like an "L" (my description not hers) and just using a cotton ball doesn't work.

She did give us Epi-Otic Advanced cleaner and I would load up a cotton ball, squeeze the fluid from it (similar to what sandgrubber said) and listen for the fluid to make a wet sound like snapping when messaging. I tried the method that sandgrubber said but Zoey was deathly afraid of it and the cotton ball works better. After the messaging I let it stay for a minute or so then use a cotton ball to clean/remove the liquid from the upper canal (not too deep) and let Zoey shake her head for the rest of the fluid. Since Epi-Otic is not water it dries up quickly.

I would definitely take your Vet's recommendation but I want to say that the Epi-Otic Advanced worked great ... I was pulling out chunks of garbage from Zoey's ears. One was so large it looked like the shape of her ear canal.

Now as far as food, I went there as well. Tried different foods, even tried Victor grain free which didn't have white potato and she still suffered. Not sure what happened but she hasn't really suffered anything for a long while (I guess a jinx now!) and she eats grain inclusive foods.

Hopefully it is now under control!
 

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Well, an update. We will take Thor in for a recheck on Tuesday to see how he is doing. But from our perspective, he is a lot better! We are not getting hardly any crud from his ear now. yeah.

However, we have had to take him off the dried carrots and sweet potato treats: too much sharting.
Homemade regular potato chips are on his treat menu now. Hopefully that will be better for all of us!

Dog Person, et all, our vet showed us this technique for cleaning his ears:

1. Warm up the bottle of Epi-Otic to body temp as its not as painful to his ears (our idea from the Internet)
2. Fill a 2.5ml syringe (no needle) and squirt that into his ear. This way we know we are always getting enough in the ear and not wasting any.
3. Gently rub the base of his ear down to his jaw line for 1 minute to get the fluid all the way down and work the crud loose.
4. Put a cotton ball snugly, but not deep, in his ear and then let him shake it all out. The cotton ball usually goes flying, but it does keep a lot of the fluid from flying around the room too.
5. Retrieve the cotton ball and look for crud. If there is crud, repeat from step 2.
6. Dry around the ear outside and his lobes, but not down in the ear. Let him continue to shake his head to throw the rest of the liquid and crud out as he desires.

We repeat this once a day for a week and try to keep him from scratching his ear (especially right after cleaning it, because cleaning does irritate it a bit).

P.S. We are pretty pleased with Epi-Otic, but may try the vinegar & water thing. We did try Aurocin by Vet One, but it made his ears smell like an old scented candle store - yuck!!
 

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Yay! Sounds like good technique. Hope the improvement continues.

My vet (the one who recommended vinegar+water+rubbing alcohol) said NOT to use a syringe, as you don't want any pressure when you insert the liquid into the ear. A big advantage of the vinegar mix is that it costs less than $1.00 a quart, so you don't worry about wasting it. Warming sounds like a good idea. Best done in a very gentle fashion as overheating may vaporize some of the active ingredients. My guys love the ear rub, and are willing to tolerate getting their ears ******d (not literally) cause the events that follow are pleasant.

!!! What a censor. The word that got blanked rhymes with swooshed!!! ;)

If your guy doesn't enjoy the ear cleaning exercise, you might want to add step 7. Reward dog with favorite treat.
 

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I have a dog who has an issue fighting off yeast. As such, he's had ear surgeries on both of ears. AND due to all the fussing with the ears, Hobert runs (even with treats being offered). Finding the root cause of the allergy I feel is the best option. We give ours Horizon Pulsars Salmon grain-free food. He gets ZERO food or snacks that yeast enjoy (aka sugar. So this is obvious grains, and starches (yams, potatoes etc). Our plan was to starve the yeast. In my personal opinion, I wouldn't give any bread no matter how small. The vinegar/alcohol and water solution I do recommend too although Hobert barely lets us get near his ears if he sees anything that might go into his ear. If Hobert gets into something grainy or starchy- he has a nasty flare up for two days of heavy panting, shaking head, licking. Its wild. Also I've taken that solution and wipe his paws with that too.
For treats we give him pieces of ham. In the ham, he gets 1 claritin/day and a benedryl if there is high pollen outside. Between the claritin and the food modifications we've seen SUCH a hugh difference.
 

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Thor went to the vet today for the checkup on his ears and was given the 'All Clear'!!

She recommended continuing to clean them 1 - 2 times per week and taking him off the allergy med.
We'll do that for two weeks and then re-introduce the dehydrated chicken treats. Right now he is getting a few home-made potato chips a day.

After two weeks of that, we may try adding another type of treat - but I doubt we'll do the eggs again. That coincided too closely with this breakout.

Unless it comes back again with a vengeance, we'll also stick with the Holistic Blend, otherwise perhaps try the Acana Singles Duck and Pear. He really likes the Holistic Blend and there are reliable/reputable suppliers here of it.

Thanks again for everyone's help!!!
 
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