It can be so frustrating to work to clear up an infection, only to have it come back again and again. Each time that the ear is assaulted in this way, it can cause small amounts of damage. In time, this will add up and can lead to permanent damage including loss of hearing.
Owners will need to work together with a trusted veterinarian to ensure proper treatment both at home and with prescribed medications.
When the problem keeps coming back, the vet should look for an underlying cause. One of the most common reasons for reoccurring problems is allergies
. This may be an inhaled allergy (weeds, pollen, trees, and grasses) or a food allergy. Aside from ear infections there may also be other signs such as watery eyes, wheezing, coughing and/or skin and coat problems.
In the case of food allergies there may be vomiting, upset stomach, loose stools and/or diarrhea.
While prescribed medications are given, owners must work to keep the ears both clean and dry. Cotton balls should be gently placed in the ears before baths are given and the outer flaps and outer canal should be wiped dry afterward. Dogs with chronic ear infections should not be allowed to swim until the condition is under control.
Hygiene is vital, done by removing excess wax and by plucking any thick long hairs that may contribute to the issue.
When a dog does not respond to antibiotics and is nearing the point of permanent damage, surgery may be recommended as a last course of action. There can be bone degeneration that can be seen via x-rays. It may seem drastic; however with stubborn infections it actually is quite successful.
The surgery is called Total Ear Canal Ablation (though other less evasive operations may be done, they do not have the high success rate in eradicating ear infections as this does)
During the procedure, the diseased ear canal is removed; though the hearing organ remains. This involves pre-surgical dosing of antibiotics for 10 to 14 days. After the surgery, the dog is given medication to control pain along with another course of antibiotics.
The success rate for resolving chronic ear infections is quite high with this surgery and many owners report that their Chihuahua has a happier and easier going personality once he no longer had to endure ongoing pain.