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Hey everyone,

so we have a black lab mix we rescued about 8 months ago. He just turned a year in May. He is a very loving and playful dog, however, we have had issues with his health since we brought him home. Therefore, lots of trips to the vet, medications, etc.

Recently, after a trip to the vet that involved his ears (he had a mild ear infection about 3 months ago) we were told once again to begin cleaning his ears with the prescribed solution. Now, he is 70 lbs of pure muscle and HATES to have his ears flushed. Therefore, my husband and I have to make it a two person job and on top of it we had to do both ears and more frequently. I last gave him his solution two or three days ago.

Now he will not stay in the same room if my husband and I are together. He is fine if it is just me or it is just my husband, but never both. He runs and hides under our bed. This has been going on since we began cleaning his ears. He is fine when we are outside or take him for walks. This happened a little when he had his prior ear infection, but this tome seems much worse.

How do we approach this? I don’t want him to be fearful of us in his own home. My husband was the one who had to hold him while I gave him the medicine, so it is more prominent with him entering the room and it really bothers him that the dog acts this way. Any suggestions?
 

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I don't have a solution, but have to smile at how clever he is to figure that neither one of you poses a chance of ear cleaning, so he only has to avoid the two of you together. I had a dog who would run and hide when I took the ear cleaning solution out of the cupboard, and one of my current dogs will leave if I take out the nail grinder. So I don't think the behavior is unusual, and I'm not sure it's fear. There are some things I avoid myself, not because I'm afraid but just because I don't like doing them.

Does he appreciate treat after the ear cleaning? That helps with some dogs that are gung ho for treats. I have one now I give a shot every two weeks, and she focuses so hard on the treat sitting waiting for her on the counter she accepts the shot without restraint.

Other than that, in your shoes I'd see if I could find a way to stop the ear infections instead of constantly treating. That's not always possible, but it might be worth investigating. When I was having rescue fosters coming and going, it seemed that too rich a food could cause ear infections in some dogs, so something with a lower fat content might be worth trying. One of my current dogs was having skin problems, so I had allergy testing done and changed to a food without any ingredients her test showed she reacted to. She didn't have chronic ear infections, but I cleaned her ears at least once a week because they always had so much brown gunk in them. To my surprise not only did she stop having constant hot spots, but the food change improved her ears to where I clean them every month or so and even then they're never as bad as they used to be.
 

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I don't have a solution, but have to smile at how clever he is to figure that neither one of you poses a chance of ear cleaning, so he only has to avoid the two of you together. I had a dog who would run and hide when I took the ear cleaning solution out of the cupboard, and one of my current dogs will leave if I take out the nail grinder. So I don't think the behavior is unusual, and I'm not sure it's fear. There are some things I avoid myself, not because I'm afraid but just because I don't like doing them.

Does he appreciate treat after the ear cleaning? That helps with some dogs that are gung ho for treats. I have one now I give a shot every two weeks, and she focuses so hard on the treat sitting waiting for her on the counter she accepts the shot without restraint.

Other than that, in your shoes I'd see if I could find a way to stop the ear infections instead of constantly treating. That's not always possible, but it might be worth investigating. When I was having rescue fosters coming and going, it seemed that too rich a food could cause ear infections in some dogs, so something with a lower fat content might be worth trying. One of my current dogs was having skin problems, so I had allergy testing done and changed to a food without any ingredients her test showed she reacted to. She didn't have chronic ear infections, but I cleaned her ears at least once a week because they always had so much brown gunk in them. To my surprise not only did she stop having constant hot spots, but the food change improved her ears to where I clean them every month or so and even then they're never as bad as they used to be.
He is on a prescription food currently which is low fat, but I’ve wondered about allergies. We’ve talked to the vet about testing for gastrointestinal disorders as that has been his main problem, but he does have dry flakey skin at times and scratches like mad. And this is the second ear problem in a few months.

can I ask if your vet did the allergy testing and about how much it can cost?
 

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When I have to do unpleasant things to my dog, I pair it with tons of treats. Excellent treats. Like deli meat, cheese, peanut butter, everything delicious that he doesn't usually get.

I know because this is a very present problem, you can't spend too much time conditioning him to accept ear flushes, but if you can, take it very slowly, getting him comfortable with each step. He might never enjoy it...likely, he will never enjoy it, haha....but he might at least tolerate it.
 

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The testing I had done was via blood sent to Spectrum Labs in Phoenix, Arizona. My vet did the blood draw and sent the blood in without charge, but that may have been because he had never done it before and was intrigued. At that time, which was 2016, I paid $190 for their most comprehensive testing.

I'm in Colorado and Colorado State University also does this kind of testing, but a friend of mine who has dealt with several allergic dogs (Story has been my one and only, thank goodness) told me her results from CSU were inconsistent (send blood in when the dog is 4 and results don't look at all the same as what you got when you sent blood in at 2) and recommended Spectrum because her results from them had been helpful and consistent over time. I only had Story done once.

Interestingly, I'd always heard about people with allergic dogs who have terrible trouble because the dog is allergic to common meats and over time they struggle to find more and more unique sources of protein, ending up feeding stuff like kangaroo and ostrich. Story's food sensitivies are all for plant-based things and pretty much everything like that used in kibble, not just the common wheat, rice, soy, but lentils, peas, potatoes, etc. Of course there were a lot of environmental things she tested positive for too, and I can't do much about those except wash her more often than I used to and wipe her down after long outings, but she's gone from a new hot spot every week or two to only a couple a year.

Good luck finding a solution for your boy.
 
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