Ear Infection Otitis End-Stage Ear Disease in Bulldogs

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

Urgent: Consultation Needed for Buster’s End-Stage Ear Disease 🐶👂💔

Dear Dr. Kraemer, I hope this email finds you well. I’m reaching out concerning my 4-year-old Bulldog, Buster.  Unfortunately, he has been diagnosed with irreversible stenotic end-stage ear disease, and I’m seeking your expertise and guidance on how best to manage his condition. 🩺🙏

Thank you for your prompt attention. #EndStageEarDisease #BulldogHealth #VetConsultation

Best regards, Tammy & Joe Green, and Buster 🐾

Bulldog Ear Infection End-Stage Disease 5 X MUST KNOW

  1. Ear disease is very common in bulldogs and may start at a young age.
  2. Bulldog’s narrow ear canal, lack of self-cleaning canal, and allergies are the main causes of end-stage disease
  3. End-stage ear disease is irreversible and requires total ear canal resection
  4. Early prevention with manual ear wiping, rinsing, and cleaning are critical
  5. Prevention includes Dr. Kraemer’s Bully Ear Disease Bundles

Wellcome to our “Prevention Over RX” bulldog community

bulldog ear disease Bundle - Ultimate

Ear Infection End-Stage Disease in Bulldogs / CAUSE

Ear disease is prevalent among both English and French bulldogs, often manifesting at a young age.

The primary causes include:

  1. Poor Anatomy: Bulldogs’ inherently narrow ear canals and predisposition to allergies contribute to ear problems.
  2. Inadequate Self-Cleaning: Bulldogs lack proper ear canal cell migration and wax movement, hindering self-cleaning mechanisms.
  3. Allergies: The breed’s susceptibility to allergies exacerbates symptoms such as itching, pain, and inflammation, worsening ear conditions.

Ear Infection End-Stage Disease in Bulldogs /PRESENTATION:

Ear infections in bulldogs can begin as early as a few weeks of age.

You will typically note

  • REDNESS
  • RUBBING & SCRACHING
  • DISCHARGE:  (purulent, dark, smelly, excessive)
  • SMELL
  • PAIN
  • SWELLING
  • NARROW STENOTIC THICKEN EAR CANAL

The main factors are ear canal abnormal anatomy and allergies

Bulldog irreversible end stage ear disease

End-stage ear disease in bulldogs and French bulldogs / DIAGNOSIS:

  1. OTOSCOPIC EXAM: polyp, tumors, hyperplastic ear canal, tympanic membrane
  2. CYTOLOGY: Bacteria and yeast
  3. CULTURE: Bacteria
  4. LOW POWER MICROSCOPE: mites
  5. IMAGING (RADIOGRAPHS, CT, MRI): Tumors, mass, growth

Without proper prevention and care, irreversible end-stage ear disease is a likely outcome. 

Ear Infection End-Stage Disease in Bulldogs PREVENTION:

Because bulldog ears don’t self-clean like ours and like other dog breeds, early and frequent preventive cleaning is critical

Proper preventive care can reduce

  • Infection (bacteria, yeast, mites)
  • Pain & Discomfort
  • $$$ Medical Treatment
  • $$$$$ Ear Surgery

Without prevention and care, irreversible end-stage ear disease is a likely outcome

Bulldog Ears Regular CLEAN, RINSE and WIPE:

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

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

v4b-yeasty-bulldog-antiseptic-ear-rinse

Bulldog and French Bulldog Ear Cleaning: HOW-TO

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

Bulldog Irreversible Ear Disease / PREVENTION STEP BY STEP:

  • WIPE Wipe the ear flap and inner folds
  • 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.
    • WARNING: On the other hand, Q-tips should only be used for the top part and ear-flap folds (pinna).
  • TWISTING: Twist the cotton ball around and bring it up for inspection.
  • INSPECTING: Don’t forget to survey the texture and color of the inner pinna (inner part leading to the canal).

BULLDOG & FR. BULLDOG EAR DISEASE PAIN:

Ear infections in Bulldogs and French Bulldogs are painful, and it’s important to remember that your pet feels pain just as you do.

Effective treatment for chronic and/or severe otitis should always be prioritized.

  • PAIN: pain management
  • INFLAMMED: anti-inflammatories
  • RINSE: topical otic rinses
  • WIPE: ear cleansing wipes
  • FLUSH: ear flushing

Comprehensive care addresses the infection and alleviates your pet’s discomfort, promoting a faster and more comfortable recovery.

bulldog resected diseased ear canal

Ear Disease in Bulldogs and French Bulldogs PREVENTION & TREATMENT:

BULLY EAR RINSE:

Topical Rinses like Dr. Kraemer’s

bulldog yeasty bully ear rinse

BULLY EAR WIPES:

Ear Wax and Debris Removal Cleansing Wipes like

bulldog ear cleanser wipe

EAR RX:

Topical Ear Medication typically includes a mix of an

  • anti-inflammatory (steroid)
  • antibacterial
  • antifungal

If infection of the middle and inner ear is suspected, systemic medication would be required

PAIN RX:

Pain control is critical, ear disease in general and end-stage disease in particular can be very painful. The medication usually included analgesics like gabapentin and anti-inflammatory like NSAIDs

THERAPEUTIC BULLY SUPPLEMENTS:

Pain control and anti-inflammatories

Eng Bulldog V4B comfort and Painless handout

NON-RX PAIN RELIEF:

Pain Control and anti-inflammatories Non-RX-like

Allergy and Itch Control

In addition to pain control, it is important to manage allergies and itchiness.

Ear Infection in Bulldogs RULE OF THUMB:

RINSE & WIPE:

Rinse and flush once or twice weekly.

RINSE: In case of chronic or acute otitis with a persistent infection, consider rinsing daily or every other day with a rinse that has antiseptic properties like

This bully antiseptic flush could help control yeast and bacteria, prime the canal, and enhance the effectiveness of the topical otic Rx your veterinarian may have given you.

preventive ear care demo by dr kraemer

WIPE: Use wipes and a cotton ball to remove all the wax and debris like

Ear infection otitis and end-state ear disease in bulldogs TIPS & WARNINGS

Below are selected end-stage ear disease tips and warnings, courtesy

EAR DISEASE FOOD ALLERGY TIP:

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

EAR DISEASE ATOPIC ALLERGY TIP:

A liquid gold serum allergy test (VARL)t can be done to rule out atopic allergies.

EAR DISEASE BULLDOG STRESS TIP:

For non-cooperative and high-anxiety bulldogs, I recommend discussing with your veterinarian the possibility of prescribing an “encouragement RX” in the form of a prescribed tranquilizer. This can help prevent injuries to both pets and owners, reduce stress, and minimize pain during treatment procedures.

Ensuring your bulldog’s comfort and safety is paramount, and utilizing a tranquilizer can facilitate proper flushing and treatment application while allowing for safe monitoring of therapeutic progress. Don’t hesitate to consult with your vet to explore this option further.

  • Bully StressLess Chews
  • Bully Hemp Calm & Relax Chews

Bulldog stress less calm chew

BULLDOG ITCHING OTITIS TIP:

Otitis in Bulldogs due to allergies may not always present with an intense itch, so it’s important not to discount allergies in those cases. Allergies can manifest in various ways, and ear issues may occur without obvious signs of itching. Therefore, it’s essential to consider allergies as a potential underlying cause of otitis, even if itching is not prominent.

BULLDOG EAR DISEASE 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.

BULLDOG EARS AND SKIN ALLERGY TIP:

Bulldogs’ ears are considered an extension of their skin, meaning that skin allergies can extend to affect the ears as well. This is an important consideration, as bulldogs are prone to skin allergies, and any allergic reactions or inflammation on the skin can also impact the health of their ears.

BULLDOG ALLERGIC OTITIS TIP:

Atopic dermatitis in bulldogs and French bulldogs is often rooted in the breed’s genetics. It’s easy to mistakenly assume that if only one ear is affected, an allergy cannot be the cause. However, your bulldog can suffer from allergy-related otitis externa in just one ear. Allergies can manifest differently in each individual, and ear issues may occur asymmetrically.

It’s important to consider allergies as a potential cause of ear problems, even if only one ear is affected. 

BULLDOG EAR INFECTION ANTIBIOTICS:

Oral antibiotics are generally not recommended for treating otitis externa in bulldogs and French bulldogs. They can be costly, and not always effective, and overuse can contribute to antibiotic resistance.

Therefore, they should be avoided in most cases of otitis externa. Instead, topical treatments such as ear drops or cleansers are often preferred as they can target the infection directly without the risk of systemic side effects.

BULLDOG OTITIS MEDIA WARNING:

Otitis media, or middle ear infection, in Bulldogs, can occur in chronic cases or in conjunction with ear polyps and tumors. In such instances, additional neurological symptoms may present, such as

  • head tilt
  • twitchy eyeballs,
  • circling, ataxia (wobbliness)
  • nausea.

If these signs are observed, your veterinarian may recommend diagnostic imaging such as an X-ray, CT scan, or MRI to assess the extent of the condition and identify any underlying causes.

BULLDOG EAR SURGERY WARNING:

Bulldogs rarely benefit from a partial ear resection, such as the removal and opening of the vertical ear canal. In most cases where surgery is warranted, there is the presence of end-stage stenotic ears, for which Total Ear Canal Ablation with Lateral Bulla Osteotomy (TECA with LBO) is the only viable option.

If your veterinarian recommends another type of surgery, it’s important to be skeptical and seek a second opinion. If TECA is recommended, ensure that your veterinarian has extensive experience and a successful track record with this procedure. This procedure involves the complete removal of the ear canal and is typically performed to address chronic or severe ear diseases, such as end-stage otitis externa or otitis media.

BULLDOG EAR STENOSIS SURGEON WARNING:

Total ear canal ablation should only be performed by a skilled and experienced veterinary surgeon.

In many cases of advanced ear disease, the ear structure becomes severely distorted. Delicate nerves and blood vessels must be navigated carefully, and thorough cleaning of the bulla is essential to eradicate all bacteria. If mishandled, there’s a risk of your bulldog developing neurological issues and a persistently draining tract that will require revision.

Conversely, in the hands of a proficient surgeon, this procedure can bring immense relief to your bulldog or French bulldog, resolving a painful and distressing problem.

EAR DISEASE AND ITCING WARNING:

If your bulldog is showing signs of ear irritation, such as rubbing and scratching, it’s advisable to begin an itch relief treatment and use a protective buster collar to prevent further trauma. Excessive scratching can damage the blood vessels in the ear flap, potentially causing an “Aural Hematoma,” where blood accumulates in the ear flap. This condition often requires surgical intervention to repair

Additionally, scratching can irritate the epithelial cells lining the ear canal, leading to swelling and the formation of ulcers.

BULLDOG Ear Hematoma

BULLDOG STENOTIC EAR END-STAGE WARNING:

The relentless cycle of chronic infection, often involving both yeast and bacteria, along with inflammation characterized by itching, swelling, redness, and pain, can ultimately progress to a severe and irreversible condition.

In this state, the cells lining the ear canal may undergo fibrosis, followed by calcification, mineralization, and even bone formation (ossification).

When the ear canal becomes obstructed by bone, traditional medical management may no longer be effective. In such cases, total ear canal ablation (TECA) with lateral bulla osteotomy (LBO) emerges as the sole viable option to eradicate the disease and alleviate your bulldog’s pain and distress.

bulldog end stage ear disease TECA surgery

EAR DISEASE OTHER CAUSE WARNING

Besides chronic infection and inflammation, various other factors, such as hormonal imbalances like hypothyroidism and hyperadrenalism (Cushing’s syndrome), as well as the presence of tumors, polyps, or foreign bodies such as foxtails, can contribute to ear canal disease (otitis) in bulldogs. However, these causes are less prevalent compared to the primary factors mentioned earlier.

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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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