Ear Infection in Bulldogs and Otitis In French Bulldogs

By: Dr. Roy Kraemer |
DVM, Bulldog Specialist Veterinarian

Dear Dr. Kraemer, Despite several rounds of treatment, Max ear infection seems persistent, and I’m growing increasingly concerned. 🐾🚨

Max frequently scratches at his ears, and shakes his head, and there’s a noticeable odor. What steps can we take to understand and resolve Max’s ongoing ear troubles?

Your guidance has been invaluable in the past, and I trust your expertise in Bulldog health. 

Warm regards, Joe and Lisa #MaxTheBulldog #OngoingEarInfection” 🙏💕

Ear infections in Bulldogs and French Bulldogs are a prevalent issue, primarily attributed to the breed’s genetically narrow ear canals. This condition has been exacerbated by selective breeding practices, making these beloved breeds particularly susceptible to ear-related problem

Bulldog Ear Infection 5 X MUST KNOW

  1. Bulldogs are prone to ear infections due to their inherent narrow ear canal and propensity to allergies
  2. They also suffer from poor upward cell migration and wax transcription.
  3. Without early prevention and treatment, the ear narrowing can become irreversible (end stage)
  4. Daily ear rinsing and wiping can prevent the infection and the end-stage disease
  5. Prevention and care include Dr. Kraemer’s Bulldog Ear Infection Otitis Bundles.

Members of this bulldog community prefer prevention over RX

Bulldog Ear infection Bundle - Ultimate

EAR CELL ABNORMAL MIGRATION

In humans and most dog breeds, the ear canal’s mucosal cell migration and wax movement are designed to work upwards, functioning like a conveyor belt that slowly transports earwax outward over days and weeks. This natural process helps maintain a clean, acidic environment in the external ear canal, preventing infections.

Unfortunately, bulldogs and French bulldogs often experience a disruption in this upward movement, with some even showing a reverse, downward migration of earwax and cells. This abnormality, combined with the breed’s inherently narrow ear canals, significantly increases their risk of ear infections.

BULLDOG ALLERGIES

Adding to these challenges is the breed’s tendency towards allergies. Bulldogs are particularly prone to ear diseases, often as a result of hypersensitivity to food and environmental allergens. This combination of a narrow ear canal and allergic predispositions makes ear infections a common and recurrent issue.

Ear infections in bulldogs can start very early, sometimes within just a few weeks of age, highlighting the importance of vigilant ear care and monitoring for owners of these breeds.

Bulldog and French Bulldog Ear Infection PREVENTIVE CARE:

EARLY and FREQUENT:

Early and frequent cleaning, wiping, and flushing can help prevent:

  • Ear infections
  • Ear disease
  • Ear pain
  • Needless discomfort
  • $$$ Dr. exam
  • $$$ Treatment
  • $$$ RX
  • $$$$$ Surgery

Because bulldog ears do not self-clean we must do it for them.

Bulldog ear infection flushed with a bully therapeutic rinse

Dr. Kraemer’s Bully Ear Topical Therapeutics:

v4b-bulldog-waxless-aloe-vera-ear-rinse-001.jpg

Dr. Kraemer’s Bully Ear Therapeutics Supplements:

Dr. Kraemer’s bully ear rinses and wipes are the ideal preventive and care kit, see HERE

Members of this community prefer prevention over RX

Remember, there is a learning curve to becoming an expert.

Repetition will help you recognize even minor changes from the norm.

Dr. Kraemer’s free “Bully Ear Maintenance Toolbox” includes articles, photos, diagrams, and videos.

v4b-yeasty-bulldog-antiseptic-ear-rinse

Ear Infection in Bulldogs and Otitis In French Bulldogs ANATOMY:

Your bulldog’s external ear canal starts vertically and then takes a sharp horizontal turn, ending at the eardrum (tympanic membrane).

SEE DIAGRAM 

Ear Infection in Bulldogs and Otitis In French Bulldogs

Ear Infection in Bulldogs Dr. Kramer’s  How To STEP BY STEP:

WIPING: Use the bully cleansing wipes to remove debris from the ear flap

APPLICATION: Fill your bully ear canal to the top with a proper rinse, making sure to coat the entire canal.

CLEANING: Take a cotton ball and stick it in as far as it will go using your fingers. There’s no need to be scared; you can’t go past the curve of the canal and damage the eardrum with a finger or a cotton ball.

TWISTING: Twist the cotton ball around and bring it up for inspection.

INSPECTION: Don’t forget to survey the texture and color of the inner pinna (inner part leading to the canal).

WARNING: Q-tips should only be used for the top part and ear-flap folds  (pinna).

Dr. Kraemer’s Bulldog Ear Infection/ PAIN:

Ear Infection is is painful, remember your pet feels pain just as you do

Treating Chronic and severe otitis should always include

PAIN MANAGEMENT

ANTI-INFLAMMATORIES

Bulldog fish oil large

It’s important to schedule a re-check visit with your veterinarian.

Bulldog Ear Infection / CAUSE:

  • Allergies:
    • Food
    • Atopic
    • Contact
    • Fleas
    • Hypersensitivity
  • Narrow Ear Canal
  • Poor Cell Migration
  • Lack of Wax Upward Movement

Please note: Ear infections can also be due to less common causes, such as:

  • Hormonal imbalances, like
    • hypothyroidism
    • hypoadrenalism (Cushing syndrome)
  • Tumors & polyps
  • Foreign bodies like foxtail.
  • Ear Mites

Bulldog and French Bulldog Ear Infection PRESENTATION:

  • Exudative Discharge
  • Swollen Ear
  • Ulcerative and crusty
  • Smelly
  • Painful to touch
  • Itchy
  • Stenotic hypertrophic ear canal
  • END STAGE: closed, fibrous, calcified, and ossified canal

bulldog end stage infected ear disease abcess

Bulldog and French Bulldog Ear Infection / DIAGNOSIS:

  • Dr. otoscopic exam: r/o polyps, mass and tympanic membrane
  • Cytology: bacteria, yeast, inflammatory cells, abnormal cells
  • Culture: to identify the bacteria and the best antibiotic to treat it
  • Imaging: Less common (radiographs, endoscopes, MRI, CT)

Ear Infection in Bulldogs and Otitis In French Bulldogs TREATMENT:

Most times, only topical treatment is required.

Dr. Kraemer’s V4B Bulldog Therapeutic Topicals

EAR RINSE:

  • V4B Bully WaxLess Ear Rinse
  • V4B Bully Yeasty Bully Antiseptic Ear Rinse

CLEANSING WIPE:

bulldog ear cleanser wipe

Dr. Kraemer’s V4B Bulldog Therapeutic Supplements

Dr. Kraemer’s bully ear infection affordable bundles, see HERE

Bulldog Comfort AcheLess and Pain Relief

EAR RX:

  • Topical Ear Medication: antibacterial, Antifungal

PAIN RX:

Pain Control Medication

NON-RX PAIN RELIEF:

  • Cold Laser Therapy
  • Pulse Electromagnetic Therapy

OTHER RX:

Anti-inflammatory and itch control

Ear Infection in Bulldog  TIPS & WARNINGS: 

Below are selected ear disease tips & warnings, courtesy of Dr. Kremer

Ear Infection in Bulldog FISH OIL TIP:

Omega 3 EFA Fish has good anti-inflammatory properties and might help reduce otitis (inflammation).

Bulldog Ear Infection FOOD ALLERGY TIP:

For chronic cases, consider an 8–12-week trial of a strict hypoallergenic diet (hydrolyzed or novel) to rule out underlying bulldog food allergy.

Bulldog infectious otitis / ATOPIC ALLERGY TIP:

An allergen blood test can be done to rule out atopic allergies.

Bulldog infectious otitis ANXIETY TIP:

For bulldogs that are non-cooperative and suffer from high anxiety, it’s advisable to discuss with your veterinarian the possibility of prescribing a “calming prescription” in the form of a mild tranquilizer.

This approach can help prevent injuries to both the pet and the owner, significantly reduce stress, and minimize discomfort during treatment procedures.

By utilizing a tranquilizer, you ensure that necessary treatments, such as ear flushing or medication application, can be performed effectively and safely. This also allows for a more reliable assessment of the therapeutic progress or the identification of any setbacks in your bulldog’s condition.

You can also try a natural stress relief non-RX like Dr. Kraemer’s

Bulldog hemp relax for ear infection

Ear Infection in Bulldog ITCH TIP:

Otitis in bulldogs due to allergies might require allergy itch control medication.

  • Cortisone
  • Antihistamines
  • Cytopoint

Ear Infection LASER THERAPY:

I highly recommend class 4 cold laser, which I use daily in my practice as part of the short- and long-term therapy and control of ear disease in bulldogs. Laser therapy is inexpensive, has no adverse effects, helps in reducing swelling and pain, and enhances healing.

Ear infection in bulldog and French Bulldog Laser

Bulldog and French Bulldog Ear Infection / SKIN TIP:

Bulldog’s Ears are an extension of their skin, thus skin allergies can extend to the ears.

Ear Infection / SINGEL EAR TIP:

Bulldog and French bulldog atopic dermatitis are rooted in the breed’s genes. It’s easy to come to the erroneous conclusion that if only one ear is affected, it can not be triggered by an allergy.

It is entirely possible that your bulldog will suffer from allergy-related otitis external in just one single ear

Ear Infection in Bulldog / ORAL ANTIBIOTICS WARNING:

Oral antibiotics are not recommended for otitis externa; they are costly, not very effective, and, in fact, can lead to resistance.

Systemic antibiotics should be avoided in most bulldogs otitis externa cases.

Ear Infection in Bulldog / OTITIS MEDIA WARNING:

Otitis Media in bulldogs (middle ear infection) can occur in chronic cases or with ear polyps and tumors.

In those cases, we also might see neurological problems like head tilt, twitchy eyeballs, circling, ataxia (wobbly), and nausea.

For those cases, your vet might recommend diagnostic imaging like X-ray, CT, or MRI.

Bulldog Ear Infection  / SURGERY WARNING:

If your veterinarian suggests a partial ear resection for what appears to be end-stage stenotic (narrowed) ears, it might be wise to seek a second opinion. In situations where surgery emerges as the sole viable option, your Bulldog may probably require a more comprehensive procedure, specifically a total ear canal ablation with bulla osteotomy (TECA w/BO).

This procedure addresses severe ear canal disease more effectively by removing the entire ear canal and addressing the middle ear, which is often necessary in advanced cases to alleviate pain and prevent further complications.

Bulldog Ear Infection  / SURGEON WARNING:

Total Ear Canal Ablation (TECA) for Bulldogs is a highly specialized surgery, and for this reason, it’s crucial to seek out a surgeon with extensive experience in performing this procedure.

In bulldogs suffering from end-stage ear disease, the ear’s anatomy is often severely altered, complicating the surgery. The procedure involves navigating close to essential nerves and blood vessels, and meticulous cleaning of the bulla to eliminate all bacteria is imperative. If not performed correctly, there’s a risk your bulldog could suffer from neurological issues or develop a chronic draining tract, leading to ongoing problems.

However, when TECA is successfully carried out by a qualified and experienced surgeon, the outcome can be life-changing for your bulldog. This surgery can relieve your pet from the relentless pain associated with end-stage ear disease, significantly improving their quality of life. Your Bulldog will undoubtedly be much happier and more comfortable, grateful for the relief from what was a constant source of discomfort

Bulldog TECA Surgery

Infectious Otitis / ITCH WARNING:

If you notice your bulldog persistently rubbing and scratching its ear, it’s essential to address the itchiness promptly with appropriate medication and place a protective Elizabethan collar (buster collar) on your dog.

This preventive measure is crucial because scratching can severely traumatize the blood vessels in the ear flap (pinna), leading to an “aural hematoma,” which is a significant accumulation of blood within the pinna that typically requires surgical intervention to repair.

Moreover, the act of scratching can also irritate and inflame the ear canal’s lining, leading to swelling, ulcers, and further discomfort for your bulldog. Taking immediate action can help prevent these complications and ensure your pet’s comfort and health

Bulldog ear infection HEMATOMA

Bulldog Ear Infection END STAGE DISEASE:

The relentless cycle of chronic infection, involving both yeast and bacteria, coupled with inflammation characterized by

  • itching
  • swelling
  • redness
  • pain

Unfortunately, this can culminate in an irreversible condition where the cells lining the ear canal undergo

  1. fibrosis
  2. followed by calcification
  3. mineralization,
  4. and eventually, ossification (bone)

In situations where the bone has replaced the normal epithelial lining of the ear canal, undergoing a Total Ear Canal Ablation (TECA) with Lateral Bulla Osteotomy (LBO) emerges as the sole effective treatment option.

This surgical intervention is designed to completely remove the diseased ear canal, thereby eliminating the source of infection and discomfort, and significantly alleviating your bulldog’s pain and suffering.

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The information provided on this platform is for general informational purposes only. It is not intended as a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your veterinarian regarding any medical condition. It's important to always consider professional medical advice promptly and not to delay seeking it based on information you've read on this platform. Any reliance on the information provided here is entirely at your discretion.

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