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Jane Lefler
Jane Lefler, Breeder,Behaviorist, formerVet Asst
Category: Dog
Satisfied Customers: 19830
Experience:  Former vol Vet Assistant.Breeder 18+ years Dog trainer / behaviorist
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English Bulldog Chronic Ear Infection

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My 10 Year Old English Bulldog has had a chronic ear infection for over a year in one ear. All treatments have proven unsuccessful. The ear is red and swollen, with a constant foul smelling yellow discharge. She consistently scratches the ear and shakes her head. Initially, the vet treated with a steroid shot and prescribed Tresaderm. The external ear only is cleaned daily with a Qtip and alternating days with PhytoVet Antiseptic Flush. She is also bathed in PhytoVet Antiseptic Shampoo as a result of constant allergies. Changing her diet to Science Diet ZD was not successful. We are now using a grain free diet "Taste of the Wild" salmon formula which helped initally, but the effects have diminshed. We tried acidophilus to restore the good bacteria in her system, to no avail. She is currently taking 1/2 pill per day of Ketoconazole, which has dried up the yellow discharge, but not stopped it. NOW, she is behaving as though she has had a stroke. She has started urinating and pooping in her room, even having urinated on her bed. She walks in circles while panting and slobbering profusely. She is completely unbalanced, walking into walls and falling down. She attempts to hide under tables and constantly sticks her head into a corner, appearing as though she is unable to back herself out. She snapped the other day, which is totally out of character for her. She has been extremely thirsty since these symptoms appeared. She does not respond to simple commands and does not appear to recognize us. We took her to the vet, who gave her a steroid shot and put her on one tablet daily of Meclizine for the nausea. HELP!

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If allergy testing has not been done, I strongly suggest that be done as well as some imaging of the brain and vestibular system. The unbalanced walk, falling, vomiting, drooling etc can all occur due to disturbances in the vestibular system. Symptoms of vestibular disease include standing with legs spread out, swaying, head tilt, abnormal eye movement, walking sideways, falling over and may include vomiting. This could be due to the ear infections, some medications can cause it and old age. Here are some great sites on this condition:


The good news is that if this is the problem and it is due to old age, the condition normally resolves itself over a few weeks. However, if it is due to the ear infection or a tumor, then they need to be resolved to resolve the symptoms. Now one problem with meclizine is that it will help with the symptoms, but if the vestibular resolves itself, the medication will produce the same original symptoms. I know this from personal experience since I had the human equivalent to vestibular disease and was prescribed this medication.


If allergy testing has not been done, it needs to be so the allergen can be identified and the cycle of ear infections stopped. At this point, oral antibiotics might also be necessary to clear the infection. If the allergen is identified and avoided, then the ear infections should be resolved and the vestibular system problem resolved.


I do believe your dog's behavior is linked to the vestibular diesease, but Cognitive Dysfunction Syndrome (CDS) also produces similar symptoms such as incoordination, getting caught in corners, forgetting who people are. There is a wonderful site that explains it well and also explains how to document your dog's behavior and discuss it with your vet.


The good news is that there is a drug called L-Selegeline (Anipryl (R)) which has been recently approved for use in the clinical indication of cognitive dysfunction (CDS) in dogs.


Please see this site for more information and other causes that may exhibit the same symptoms.


Discuss the things I have brought up with your vet and request additional testing so a treatment plan can be developed. I hope this information is helpful to you.

Customer: replied 5 years ago.
The research I have completed online exactly matches your response. The vet recommended an appointment with a veterinary specialist in a town nearby since she was incapable of viewing the ear due to the extreme swelling. An appointment has been scheduled for Monday to allow the specialist to view the ear with an instrument that has a camera attached. If the problem is vestibular, what treatment recommendations can we anticipate? The vet mentioned the eardrum may have ruptured. If that is the case, will treatment restore her back to normal behavior?



It depends on the cause. If the vestibular distturbance is related to the swelling of infection, etc, reducing that by addressing the allergen, using antibiotics to clear the last infection and a little time should solve teh problem. If it is a combination between the ear infection and old age, it will clear pretty quickly since it normally is resolved in a couple of weeks when age related. Now if a tumor is found to be the cause, then you will need to discuss the options with your vet and make some decisions. At a minimum, I believe you are going to be looking at an inner ear infection. Ruptured ear drums can heal on their own given time. For the inner ear infection expect treatment to include steroids and antibiotic such as clindamycin, and anti inflammatory in the ear along with current fungal medications.


I do think that with treatment she should recover, but some dogs will retain a head tilt. Now she is elderly so there may be other things going on as well, but it is best to address what seems to be a definite problem first.

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