Labradoodle & Goldendoodle Forum

Hello..........our lovely labradoodle Lily has had chronic yeast infections in her ears since we got her. The last Vet we went to said she believes her infections come from allergies to food. So we put her on a grain free food, put the medicine in her ears, and clean them like were supposed to but she is still battling it. She is shaking her head and the smell in her We have been on 4 different medicines trying to cure them. My questions are..........if there not clearing up and we have changed her food could it still be allergies to her food? Also, any other things that we can do?


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You could try Thornit Powder to treat the infection but you still need to find the underlying cause. What proteins are in the food? I find that chicken is bad for sensitve ears. A raw diet would help or at least a food that has minimal things in it like Natural Balance Venison and Sweet Potato.

The vets are very poorly informed on food. Food allergies are relatively rare in dogs, and if your dog had one, you would see other signs of allergies besides ear infections. The vets always blame food first, though. Even if Lily has other types of allergies which might be causing the ear problems, you would still see some other symptoms.

Does Lily have any other symptoms of allergies? Itching, scratching, licking, rubbing or biting herself? 

With all due respect to other posters, there is nothing about raw food that can clear up ear infections any more than cooked food or a high quality grain free kibble. Biologically, if the ear infections are related to food allergies, it would be the proteins in a particular ingredient that might be causing it, and the proteins in cooked chicken (or any other kind of food) are identical to the proteins in raw chicken under chemical analysis. I would also go with a food that has a higher protein content and a lower carbohydrate content, so Natural Balance would not be one of my choices, as it is very low in proteins and very high in carbs like sweet potatoes; some people believe that sugars from plant carbohydrates contribute to yeast infections, although there is no scientific evidence of that. 

Some dogs are just more prone to ear infections than others; this is usually genetic from the poodle lines. If you are keeping the ear canals free of hair and moisture, using a good drying agent, and cleaning them regularly, I would talk to the vet about what other steps you can take to find the underlying issue. 

Tammy, you are going to hear a lot of strong and conflicting information here, but I'll throw my two cents in and let everyone take their shots.

My Paddy, now pushing 5, had chronic yeast infections in his left ear beginning in his 2nd year.  We'd do one bout of medicine after another, with visits to the vet in between.  I felt so bad for him. I even had an allergy panel done on him for environmental sensitivities, which showed him off the charts allergic to dust mites.  I tried all forms of commercial food, including BARF and Instinct raw diets.  While he improved slightly on the commercial raw diets, it wasn't until we went completely raw (the diet is called Raw Meaty Bones) that he got some relief.

Today, he does have the occasional ear infection, but nothing, nothing like we were dealing with before.  Here's how we live now:

1.  I use a product called Zymox, steroid free (there are 2 kinds), routinely to keep the environment in his ears balanced and the ugly bugs whacked down.  The downside is that Zymox turns my cream-colored doodle's ear flap and fur underneath an oily black.  I have to wash that area regularly and every so often swab his inner ear out.

2.  He lives on raw meat -- the same kind you and I eat cooked.  Raw chicken quarters, raw chicken breasts, raw pork ribs and chunks, raw beef (bones removed), raw beef liver and heart, raw eggs.  He also gets some canned sardines and tuna and takes fish oil.  The raw bones are easily crunched up and digested and cause no problem.  He gets a lot of meat and a little bone every day.  You can read my blog about how I switched him over.  For training and rewarding, I give him small amounts of commercial freeze-dried meat or jerky that has no additives.  He gets no veggies, grains, fruits or supplements.

3.  He continues to take his prescription antihistimines, especially during spring and fall.

4.  I also use a form of Febreeze that is called "allergen reducer."  Sprayed around your house on a regular basis, it will keep dust mite allergens (and others) out of the air.  It helps.

So that's our strategy and our lifestyle.  It works pretty well.  I do not strip his ear hair unless it's absolutely necessary for treatment because I believe constant stripping irritates the ear canal, creating a more hospitable environment for bugs.  But I am careful to keep his ears dry, and I intentionally smell his ear regularly -- I've gotten so I can identify an incipient infection before it really takes hold, just from the slight change in the smell of his ear.  Again, Zymox is great.

Again, you'll encounter a lot of very strong opinions here on the subject of allergies and how to deal with them.  I encourage you to trust your gut knowledge of your dog and move in the direction that feels right to you.  This is what I did, and the outcome has been better than I could have hoped.

Good luck to you and Lily!


When discussing health or medical issues, this group tries not to base advice on "opinions", strong or otherwise, or on anecdotal information, but rather on scientific facts and evidence. There continues to be no real evidence that raw diets have any effect at all on allergy symptoms.

My KoKo also suffers from chronic ear infections and I have had her sedated three times already so the vet could flush them.  The vet bill is growing and we still haven't solved the problem.  He said she has food allergies so I did what Karen tells us NOT to do and put her on prescription food to clear her system.  I am then supposed to introduce one food at a time to see what she reacts to.   She has been off meds for the past two weeks and has now begun scratching again even though she is only eating the "prescription" food.  She chews her paws and licks her rear to the extent her rear end fur is saliva stained.  She has  had her glands expressed recently but still does the butt scoot.  I have come to the conclusion that it will be less expensive to have her tested for allergies rather than what the vet proposed and actually solve the problem rather than guess what it may be . She drives me nuts with all the scratching so it must be torturous for her.  She is two years old and this problem started about six months ago. Any idea what allergy testing costs?

It varies, but it generally costs $500-600, which includes your antigens for immunotherapy. In Koko's case, because of the paw and rear end issues and general scratching, as well as the age of onset, I would bet it's inhalant allergies. I would consult a veterinary dermatolgist and if he/she feels it's warranted, do skin testing. It was a life-saver for JD, he was able to go 3 years without meds, only his desensitaztion shots, and only one flare a year that was handled with topicals. Do not waste your money on blood or saliva tests, they are worthless. Do it soon, because immunotherapy works best when you start it early, and allergies get worse as the dog gets older.

We've had several dogs here whose general praqctice vets put them on various food trials, and so far, not one has responded positively to the diet changes. Those who have gone on to have testing done have turned out to be allergic to various environmental proteins, like pollens, dust mites, and molds.

Thanks Karen, I'm going to call for an appointment with a dermatologist.  I just checked my bills so far beginning in July 2012 and I've already spent $774 and we still have the problem.  Wish I had gone this route from the beginning. 

Don't feel bad. When JD first started showing symptoms, I delayed having the testing done, too. Got a lot of really bad advice about food from well-meaning people in the various dog forums, and being uneducated at that time, wasted a lot of time fooling around with diets before I finally consulted a specialist.

Once you do the testing if warranted and get to a maintenance dose of antigens, your costs will be much less. JD's antigens cost me about $50/month, including the syringes, and aside from that, the only expenses 10 months of the year are for evening primrose oil capsules and generic Claritin. Oh, and one visit to the specialist per year for review of the treatment, etc.

I may be behind the times here, but my last dog "BJ" had a problem with ear infections.  The vet suggested surgery to realign the ear canals for better drainage.  It was expensive but it worked.  I can't remember BJ having another ear infection for the rest of his 16 years.

Some dogs do need surgery. They can have a genetic defect in the shape or size of the ear canals. It's curative, but as you say, very expensive.

There are also cases where the ears have been so badly infected for so long that there is scarring,  often referred to as chronic "poodle ear", and then they may need ear ablation surgery. Those are usually neglect cases, but not always.

At the time I remember being thankful for my credit card, but I think 15 or so years of vet visits and medications may just have been more expensive.  I also think it saved BJ a lot of pain and stress.



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