Mini Labradoodle Chronic Ear Infections: What You Need To Know

brown labradoodle walking through park

Mini Labradoodle chronic ear infections can be real headaches. As a busy person, you’ve come here to find a solution and get your mini Labradoodle’s ears healthy again. Together, we will explore what chronic ear infections are and how you can help your mini Labradoodle move past an ear infection to live its best life.

Mini Labradoodle Chronic Ear Infections Explained

Mini Labradoodles are cute, curly-haired, sweet dogs. The loyalty of a poodle and the excitement of a Labrador collide to create a beautiful, yet unique, dog breed. Like most dogs, their ears differ from ours, but your mini Labradoodle may need special care.

In fact, chronic ear infections are so common in all dogs that in 2018, an insurance company released the top 5 dog medical infections, and a dog ear infection ranked 3rd. It’s no wonder you and many other owners get anxious about a chronic ear infection condition. After all, protecting your dog’s ears is important.

As defined by Penn Medicine, a chronic ear infection is fluid, swelling, or an infection that is behind the eardrum and doesn’t go away or continue to return repeatedly. This condition can ultimately lead to loss of hearing or balance problems.

In rare cases, it can also lead to loss of appetite, but this has been more linked to Otitis media (the middle of the ear canal), or Otitis Interna (the inside of the ear canal). Both conditions are possible when the ear infection is untreated. These can also lead to system-wide effects and even more serious conditions.

Otitis Externa is treatable and relatively low risk, which is in the outer part of the ear canal. It is important to treat ear infections even if they are low risk, especially so they don’t develop into a more serious infection.

What are the causes of chronic ear infections, especially in mini Labradoodles? Knowing this can help prevent ear infections in the first place and help your dog live a happy, healthy life.

Causes of Chronic Ear Infections in Mini Labradoodles

Bacteria and yeast overgrowth are the major causes of chronic ear infections in mini Labradoodles.

With an inflamed ear, your dog will produce extra ear wax to help soothe the area. While bacteria and yeast already exist inside your dog’s ear, the increase in wax also causes the same two things to grow.

Your dog’s ear itches, so they scratch it, and a terrible cycle begins, leading to additional inflammation and bacteria building up. The shape of a dog’s ear canal also leads to ear infections. Unlike human ear canals, a mini Labradoodle’s ear canal is mostly vertical before curving into an L-shape at the bottom. This shape traps fluid, and if not properly cleaned, it can create the perfect environment for bacteria and yeast growth.

While these two things are the primary causes, it is helpful to know that there are other ones as well. Another possibility is moisture in your mini Labradoodle’s ear causing a painful ear infection. Does your dog enjoy frequent swims? Your dog’s ears will hold on to all of that extra moisture in their ear canals if they’re not properly cleaned. Your mini Labradoodle’s floppy ears also block off air from reaching the ear canals, which can make it difficult for their ears to dry. The more moisture, the greater the chance to breed bacteria and yeast.

Another cause that is quite common is ear mites. Typically, ear mites transfer from other animals and live deep inside the ear canal. They can also pick up foreign bodies from your mini Labradoodle’s environment, with grass seed being the most common to cause an ear problem.

If your dog is a fan of rolling around in the grass or any other environment where foreign objects could dislodge, then it is important to check and clean their ears. By being vigilant in these circumstances, they can avoid an ear infection.

While these are the most common causes, there are a few other more serious conditions chronic ear infections can present themselves in, such as food allergies, endocrine disorders, and autoimmune disorders.

labradoodle laying in front of white background

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How a Chronic Ear Infection Can Affect Your Mini Labradoodle

Typically, your mini Labradoodle’s ear infection is simple to treat. Unfortunately, the itching and medical cleaners will certainly annoy your dog, but a routine ear infection will go away after 1-2 weeks.

If a chronic ear infection goes untreated, it can certainly lead to worse symptoms that will become harder to treat. This can encourage your mini Labradoodle to scratch, causing more inflammation, thus building more ear wax causing conditions to worsen even more. When a mini Labradoodle gets a severe ear infection, they get stuck in a cycle of scratching, inflammation, and ear wax build-up. This causes the lining of the ear canal to thicken. The more it thickens, the narrower the ear canal becomes. We know this as hyperplasia or stenosis.

Once the lining of the ear canal becomes thick with scar tissue, it hinders most treatments from reaching the inflammation. Also, the narrow ear canal can prevent the natural discharge of ear wax, dead skin cells, and even hair, which will lead to additional irritation.

Chronic ear infections that never go away could eventually become bone, rendering treatment with medication impossible. Once this happens, your mini Labradoodle can experience ruptured eardrums and infections in the middle ear canal leading to hearing damage, loss, or even facial paralysis.

If your vet can determine the root cause of your mini Labradoodle’s chronic ear infection, then it is much easier to manage. Once the underlying issue, if there is one, becomes treated, then life is much better for your mini Labradoodle, and you can control any recurrent ear infections.

Life Expectancy of a Mini Labradoodle With a Chronic Ear Infection

As long as you treat chronic ear infections quickly, you should have nothing to worry about. Typically, ear infections will clear up in roughly 1-2 weeks’ time. Your mini Labradoodle will and should live out their happy and healthy life, which is about 12-14 years.

However, if your mini Labradoodle’s chronic ear infections have become end-stage ear disease, things can become dicier. At this stage, surgery will remove the diseased ear canal, as medication treatment will no longer work.

Provided the surgery is successful and further complications don’t arise, then your mini Labradoodle will return to normal and live out its fulfilling life span. Ultimately, your dog will be fine as long as there are no other underlying medical conditions.

You can look forward to many happy and healthy years together with your mini Labradoodle, minus the recurrent ear infections.

Life Expectancy With Food or Skin Allergies

Mini Labradoodles, as well as all dogs or any living thing, can have food or even skin allergies. These things can also cause chronic ear infections to crop up and other medical issues.

If allergies cause your dog’s chronic ear infections, then consulting a vet will be your best option. A good vet will help you determine what treatment options are available and help manage both chronic ear infections and food or skin allergies.

For example, if your mini Labradoodle has food allergies, then a vet can help you determine what ingredient causes the allergic reaction, recommend a diet, prescribe meds, and get your dog back to living its best life.

With skin allergies, the same plan falls into place. The vet will figure out what kind of parasite or environmental factor is causing the allergic reaction and recommend many of the treatment options available.

As long as you manage all allergies and get treatment for your mini Labradoodle, there is no reason they can’t live a long life filled with joy and happiness right alongside you.

labradoodle laying in grass with red ball

Life Expectancy With Endocrine Disorders

Your mini Labradoodle’s life expectancy may decrease if he gets diagnosed with an endocrine disorder. This depends on when your dog receives a diagnosis. For example, with Cushing’s disease, the outlook is positive as long as the dog is being treated.

Dogs typically live another two years with medication, and 10% of dogs live an additional four years. If you choose to go with radiation for your dog, then they may live another 2-5 years.

Hyperthyroidism is another potential diagnosis for your mini Labradoodle. If diagnosed with hyperthyroidism, they will probably still live to their full life expectancy. Even with no cure for hyperthyroidism, you can manage it with a few treatments, allowing your dog to continue to live happily ever after.

Life Expectancy With Autoimmune Skin Disorders

Being diagnosed with an autoimmune disorder can alter your dog’s life expectancy, depending on which autoimmune disorder is diagnosed. It’s important to remember that all of them can be life-threatening.

With a proper diagnosis and treatment, however, most autoimmune disorders are manageable. Pemphigus foliaceus, also known as PF, is the most common autoimmune skin disorder.

This diagnosis is typically positive, and most dogs will require therapy with treatment, but overall some respond so well they can eventually return to a normal life. Others live on quite happy and healthy for years.

There are two other potential prognoses to be aware of that could affect your dog’s ear. Pemphigus erythematosus, also known as PE, and Pemphigus Vulgaris, which is PV for short. The first is typically good in the sense that dogs respond well to treatment. However, PV is usually fatal. This is the most serious form of pemphigus skin disorder.

PV is extremely rare while the other two are also uncommon, so take heart in knowing your chances of experiencing these are low. Being aware of their existence, however, is just smart planning.

Signs That Your Mini Labradoodle Might Have a Chronic Ear Infection

Ear infections are very common in dogs with floppy ears. An outer ear infection is the easiest to spot. Some of the most obvious signs, especially in the beginning, are whining, scratching, and head shaking.

These are not the only signs, but can be enough to warn you that your dog may have issues. Other clues can include a dark discharge, odor, redness or swelling of the ear canal, notable pain, and crusting or scabs in the ears.

Even though an ear disease is more common with floppy ears, other dogs with upright ears can suffer from the same issues. Depending on the level of inflammation, some mini Labradoodles may not show any signs of an ear infection. However, even in these instances, you can still see wax buildup or discharge from the ears.

One thing to watch out for is that the ears are dry. Your dog’s ears should also be clean. It is normal for some bacteria and yeast to be living around the outer canal. Anything more than this, however, and you should certainly inspect deeper and potentially schedule a visit with the vet.

If the ear infection deepens to otitis media or otitis interna infection, which is the middle or inside of the ear canal, then your dog can experience even more symptoms. These include tilting their head, leaning to one side, altered balance, or eventually deafness.

In more severe cases, vomiting, unequal-sized pupils, and nervous system damage could all occur. Although these symptoms are rarer, the possibility makes it worth knowing about them.

With any of these signs, seeking help from your vet will be the best option. Most times, they can help determine and walk you through proper treatment to avoid future visits. Catching any of the more severe symptoms early on may help you and your dog avoid more serious forms later on.

How To Help Your Mini Labradoodle Live a Fulfilling Life With a Chronic Ear Infection

Luckily, normal ear infections on the outside of the ear canal are typically treatable. If going to a veterinarian, they will clean out your dog’s ear using a medicated ear wash. Most vets will also prescribe ear drops or an ear cleaning solution (maybe even some antibiotics for infection) so you can continue the treatment at home.

Typically, in 1-2 weeks, your mini Labradoodle should be as good as new and ear infection-free. Other treatment options are available if what caused the ear infection is something foreign or another underlying condition.

Treatments for Parasites or Foreign Bodies in the Ear

If treating a foreign body or other parasites, then your vet should perform an otoscopic or microscopic examination of the ear canal. This will determine the best course of action. For example, if your vet finds something, then they may decide to remove it via surgery, flush the ear canal thoroughly, and then clean it with a medicated ear cleanser.

If the ear infection involves ear mites or a similar parasite, then your vet will most likely send additional medication home and instruct you on cleaning your dog’s bed, toys, and other frequent areas to avoid reinfection.

labradoodle puppy sleeping on ground

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Treatment for Allergies

You and your vet will need to work together to determine what allergies are causing repeated ear infections. Your close vigilance will determine the cause of your dog’s reaction.

Food Allergies

Even though protein is good for us and many dogs too, it could likely be the culprit in your dog’s food allergies. Typical allergens for dogs include dairy products, chicken, wheat gluten, beef, chicken eggs, lamb, and soy.

You’ll need to do what’s called an elimination diet. This is where you eliminate possible allergens, then slowly incorporate each suspected ingredient back into your dog’s diet. As you do so, you’ll watch your dog’s behavior to determine a new diet plan which can eliminate that allergy.

Once complete, the chronic ear infections should no longer be present.

Inhalant Allergies

For most, the first big breath at the changing of the seasons is refreshing, but for just as many, so are inhalant allergies. Just like us humans, your dog may suffer from those seasonal sniffles as well.

Dander, pollen, and other airborne allergens could be to blame, but these come with their own set of treatment methods. Depending on how severe your dog’s allergy is, then a vet may prescribe anti-inflammatory medicine, which will help block the reaction and control the itch and inflammation.

Along with oral medication, you may bathe your mini Labradoodle in anti-inflammatory shampoo. This will not only soothe but help heal their itchy, inflamed skin as well.

Your vet may also do an allergy test to zero in on the exact allergen causing the problem. This can pave the way for options such as desensitization, which are small weekly injections that will build your dog’s immune system up, and they will stop responding to that allergy.

Treatment for Closed Ear Canal

Depending on how swollen the ear canal is, an anti-inflammatory might shrink the area enough for medication to work on the infected area. Otherwise, if the chronic ear infections have built up scar tissue and the ear canal has closed up, then surgery may be the best option and the most effective treatment.

The most common surgery is a lateral ear resection where the vertical part of the ear canal is removed. With very severe cases, however, the entire ear canal will be removed, leading to hearing impairment or possible deafness.

Natural Treatments for Dog Ear Infections

When determining treatments for your dog, it is always wise to consult your vet prior to doing anything. For chronic ear infections, though, there are a variety of natural home remedies you can try.

You can try topical remedies such as green tea, calendula, grapefruit seed extract, or even apple cider vinegar. There are also mullein drops which are made with mullein leaves, olive oil, and garlic which have proven to help with such conditions.

Going the natural route may be best for the environment and your pup, but if the itchy ear doesn’t seem to get better or the bacterial infection gets worse, consulting your veterinarian is the next best step.

labradoodle dog sitting on rocky beach

How To Prevent Chronic Ear Infections for Your Mini Labradoodle

One of the best ways to cure an ear infection or prevent chronic ear infections is stopping them before they even begin.

One of the best ways to accomplish this is to keep your dog’s ears clean and dry. During warmer months, this is especially important as this is when ear infections increase dramatically in dogs.

Be sure to clean your dog’s ears with a veterinary-approved liquid ear cleaner and cotton balls. If you need help, there is a nice little section here that will guide you through a good ear cleaning process.

It is important to note that you should never use a cotton swab to clean your dog’s ears. Just like our ears using a cotton swab will only push whatever is in there even further into the ear canal, causing additional buildup, ultimately causing the potential for more damage.

On the other end of the spectrum, it is important to not over-clean your pup’s ears. Natural wax protects against bacteria and inflammation, too, so there does need to be some to help prevent either of those from getting out of control.

By keeping a good eye on your mini Labradoodle, you’ll be able to watch for and discover signs they may have some discomfort. Otherwise, following a steady cleaning schedule should prevent any over or under cleaning and alert you to any issues that may need further inspection long before they become serious.

Keeping Out Excess Moisture

If your mini Labradoodle is prone to chronic ear infections, then turning to your groomer may be a great option. Your groomer could trim any excess hair from around the ear canals, helping the ears to drain better and keeping them dry.

As an extra precaution and very important with chronic ear infections after bath time or swimming, use the same cotton ball method to help remove excess water. This will keep additional bacteria from building up and in doing so preventing bacterial infection.

Diet and Supplements

One of your best options and easiest ways to help your dog’s health is ensuring a proper diet. Following a healthy one will ensure its overall health and reduce things like inflammation that would lead to an ear infection.

Another option could add supplements as well. These will help ensure your dog is getting all the vitamins and nutrients they need. Omega-3 fatty acid supplements promote a healthy, shiny coat, decrease inflammation, and will help your mini Labradoodle’s skin.

You could also include a probiotic supplement. This will help maintain a healthy gut, keeping your dog’s immune system in fighting shape to ward off any potential infections.

Living Their Best Life

Overall, repeated ear infections are completely manageable for both you and your mini Labradoodle. By following and keeping an eye out for things, any ear problem can be avoidable.

The less time your pup spends having an itchy ear and the more time being a dog, then it’ll be more time for you and those floppy ears to make memories together.

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