Getting to the Root Cause of your Dog’s Ear Infection in 8 Easy Steps
So your dog has started shaking his head, scratching at his ears, the ear looks red and inflamed, there might be a coffee grounds like substance present in the ear canals and outer ear and ear flaps - you might even be able to see the mites, smell the yeast, or hear your dog whining in pain.
Please understand, an ear infection is simply a symptom of an underlying condition that has not been diagnosed or dealt with, and here lies the dilemma for you, as a dog-owner. Do you accept the diagnosis of an ear infection from the vet and duly take the medication prescribed or do you begin a conversation around why your dog has the ear infection in the first place? Occasionally you may be told, it is caused by an allergy or an adverse food reaction and yes, these two reasons account for approximately 97% of ear infections. So most dog-owners will accept this information, nodding, and leave the clinic with their dog and the medication, none the wiser. But the question of absolute, paramount importance here is - have you got to the bottom of the issue - the root cause? Let me take you on a journey to show you, you do not have the whole picture. A piece of the puzzle is missing.
I am taking it that if you are reading this you are trying to investigate why it may be that your dog keeps having recurring ear infections and nothing seems to be working as over time it simply reappears again.
Otitis - or inflammation of the ear - is the second most common reason most dog-owners will front up at the vets, after itchiness, and before allergies. Dogs, it appears, have a lot of ‘inflammatory” issues these days. So let's have a closer look at why this may be, and it doesn’t matter if we are talking about otitis externa (outer ear) the most common, otitis media (middle ear) or otitis interna (the inner ear). Let me state, it does not matter how many times you clean your dog's ears with a cotton ball wound into a strip or stop him or her from getting water in the ears, or even how often you use a cleaning solution. If you are not dealing with the root cause - ear infections will continue over time. Ready to read?
If Hippocrates deemed that medicine be thy food, are we able to look at what your dog eats and say “If I were a dog - that's exactly what I would want to be eating every day?” So if we looked at our food could we ascertain what proportion of the food we put in our mouths is nutrient-dense? By this, I mean the foods that are exploding with high levels of vitamins and minerals and antioxidants known to slow the ageing process and feed our amazing immune system. Could we boast it’s at least 50%? Is our daily diet teeming with billions of beneficial bacteria from yoghurt, kefir, fermented foods, and possibly a bit of kombucha because we have learnt from our ancestors these foods are crucial for good health? If you missed the science class that detailed the major benefits of the bacteria found in these foods, known today as probiotics, it would have looked something like this possibly ….
- PROBIOTICS produce short-chain fatty acids (SCFAs), which actually inhibit the growth and activity of harmful bacteria, such as certain strains of coli, Salmonella, and Clostridium - now there’s a benefit already right?
- PROBIOTICS reduce allergic reactions by decreasing intestinal permeability and controlling inflammation - just keeps getting better and better right?
- PROBIOTICS significantly influence your dog’s physical and psychological health
- PROBIOTICS have positive effects on a dog’s cholesterol levels
- PROBIOTICS Increases your dog's ability to resist gastroenteritis (chronic diarrhoea)
- PROBIOTICS reduces the frequency and duration of gastrointestinal illnesses, such as diarrhoea, following antibiotic use.
- PROBIOTICS can provide anti-tumour properties
- PROBIOTICS relieves constipation and irritable bowel syndrome
- PROBIOTICS minimise allergy symptoms by strengthening and stabilising the immune system
- PROBIOTICS improve mineral metabolism to help dogs achieve healthy bone density and bone stability
- PROBIOTICS improve coat and skin health
- PROBIOTICS provide chemicals necessary for manufacturing the vitamins biotin (for skin), folic acid and most B group vitamins
- PROBIOTICS facilitate removal of toxins by enhancing digestive processes
- PROBIOTICS probiotics stimulate cellular and humoral (that’s extra-cellular or ‘outside of the cell’) immunity. This is a really big deal - that constitutes ALL adaptive immunity.
In the book Immunobiology: The Immune System in Health and Disease, it states,
‘Many of the bacteria that cause infectious disease in humans multiply in the extracellular spaces of the body, and most intracellular pathogens spread by moving from cell to cell through the extracellular fluids. The extracellular spaces are protected by the humoral immune response, in which antibodies produced by B cells cause the destruction of extracellular microorganisms and prevent the spread of intracellular infections’.
I hope you stayed with me on that one - basically, if probiotics can enhance immunity, then the destruction of any pathogen - be it in the cell or outside of the cells in your dog - has to be a thing worth paying for, right? Re-establishing the beneficial microbes is of paramount importance.
Now let's talk about the ramifications of your dog having depleted levels of probiotics - if not non-existent levels. And trust me here, if your dog has recurring ear infections, your dog has depleted or non-existent beneficial bacteria. Not convinced?
Here’s a list of all the things that affect or kill beneficial bacteria - or probiotics as I like to call them - see how many you can relate to, specifically for your dog;
- animals born from animals with gut dysbiosis
- use of food previously sprayed or grown using glyphosate (Round-Up)
- grain-based or soy-based diet, and chemicals such as those listed on an ingredient list starting with ‘E’
- de-worming drugs
- flea and tick treatments (many contain pesticides)
- chlorinated drinking water
- use of antibiotics
- use of steroids
- use of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs
- genetically modified foods - in NZ - corn or soy found in pet foods
- stress (causes a rise in the hormone cortisol which can break down the protective mucosal lining of the gut)
So you know what kills the good bacteria now and you know that a lack of them can cause all sorts of issues because they play such a powerful and complex role, here's the scoop …
Determine how many of these you answer no to …
- Has your dog been free from antibiotics in the last two years
- Can you remember the last time you gave your dog a canine-specific probiotic?
- Is your dog currently allergy-free
- Have you not had to take your dog to the vet in the last two years
- Do you feed your dog raw food or a BARF diet?
- Does your dog get exercised daily?
If you have answered no to all or even most of these you definitely need to keep reading - I am talking directly to you now!
Have you heard of the seven pillars to good health? Don Colbert wants to challenge and motivate you to pay attention to these seven areas and I do too. They are
- water, (make sure its chlorine-free)
- sleep, (it's a dog’s life so this isn’t usually a problem)
- rest, (again, not really an issue)
- living food, (this is the nutrient-dense, power-packed formula for good health, not the ‘dead’ food from a round plastic wrap or a tin or a bag - this is what I’m talking about)
- exercise, (dogs were not supposed to live a sedentary life either)
- detoxification, (supplement with milk thistle tincture once a year for a week mixed with your dog food)
- supplements, (in the form of herbal additions such as slippery elm (anti-inflammatory, soothing and healing),
- coping with stress (for the times your dog seems stressed how about trying a dose of Rescue Remedy, works wonders for dogs).
If they apply to humans I say they sure do apply to dogs as well! So take these seven pillars and add one more, MicroMed’s pillar to health - probiotics! Need I say more - you have your EIGHT Steps to Getting to the Root Cause of your Dogs Ear Infection now!
So it's not about taking a pill for an ill! The piece of the puzzle you were missing? It's about learning what the foundations to good health are, specific to your dog, and putting them into practice. Yes, its a pain in the proverbial - yes, it's time-consuming - yes it's more expensive initially - possibly! But ask yourself “Is your dog worth it?
Because until you accept, as many of those before you that you will need to make life-changing alterations to your dog's life, in the form of diet, re-establishing healthy microbes, and detoxifying, you will keep getting more of the same! So for the sake of your dog, take a little time to ponder is he or she really worth it?