life on the funny farm

Friday, January 25, 2013

A Lab? Never Again.

This is a piece I posted some time ago, but thought I would dust it off and throw it up again.

Because we are currently fighting yet another of Sunny's infamous ear infections.


Sunny is only 4 years old. The prime of her life. Should be the picture of health. Instead I have this dog who chews herself to the point of oozing and whose sizable ears seem to take turns getting infections.
Sunny's latest ailment was a huge hematoma in her ear. Her ear looked like a giant engorged tick. In order to save yet another costly trip to the vet, I talked Fred into bringing a syringe home so he could drain it himself.

It did not go well. Blood and body fluids, a yelping, twisting 95 pound dog and a frustrated and disgusted surgeon-turned-vet does not make a pretty picture. And of course, like the Gulf oil geyser, the thing refilled in no time flat. Took her to the vet finally, piggy-backing her onto my regularly scheduled appointment with another dog and two cats, and the vet said to leave it alone and it might go away. Which, I think, is Fred's philosphy with our animals in general. But, like the philosophy, the vet's theory didn't work. The thing kept getting bigger. And bigger.

She finally got to the point where she was walking around with her head held sideways. Whether from discomfort or the actual weight of the thing I don't know. But we bit the bullet and scheduled the surgery. More than $600 later, and armed with a bag full to bursting with medications, I walked out the door with her in one of those E-collars. The vet told me she might bump into things for awhile, but there was a learning curve and she would soon get the hang of it. Thing of it is, Sunny's learning curve is more like a flat line, so she pretty much continuously walks into doorways and flips over kitchen stools.

Less than a week later we were back at the vet's because she managed to develop yet another ear infection
while she was on antibiotics.
They removed her bandage and gave me more antibiotics, a topical spray, and drops to put inside her ear.
She's still bumping into things and scraping everyone's legs and her collar is now duct-taped because she managed to rip the plastic from catching it on stuff so often.
Hey, at least she can't chew her legs right now.
And, if I want to remain positive, she has matured to the point where she pretty much only chews on herself, which is a good thing. In her younger days, she has been know to chew up pool noodles, hoses, pricey water pumps, and the siding on our house. I can truly say I have a dog who eats us out of house and home.

Marley's got nothin' on Sunny.


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  1. Poor baby! I felt so bad with our kitten in an e-collar. My husband thought she needed a break from it...She immediately pulled out a stitch!!!
    I hope your dog gets better quickly.

  2. UGH! I hate the cone worse than the dogs. That thing hurts when they scrape it against the back of your bare legs. Never mind when they try to pass you on the stairs and end up almost knocking you down to your death. The only dog we ever had that had chronic skin issues was, of course, the expensive purebred Rottie. All the mutts were fine. Like you said, never again!!!

  3. My mutt Keela who has never chewed up a thing in her life (wasn't fully house trained until she was a year old - but I digress) wondered why I just got down in her bed with her and gave her a big hug. :-) Thanks for the smiles!

  4. Thanks, Mary. I hope your kitten heals up quickly!
    Stevie, you're right. Mutts are the healthiest. My lab is the worst of the whole bunch!
    Joan, that is so sweet! Give your Keela a belly rub from me!

    Thanks for stopping in, guys!

  5. oh, poor little thing. I have two labs and one of them chews on his foot.

  6. Ear infections are a big topic on basset hound e-lists, and that is where I heard about Blue Power Ear Treatment. It might be worth looking into:

    When your lab's ear cleans up, the blue power might help keep the infections at bay.

    Good luck!

  7. Been there done it with our Miggs . Our Miggs had to have reconstructive knee surgery as her knee kept popping out, then the cast they had on caused pressure sores cause it had to be tighter then normal to support the knee whilst healing , took her out side on a leash every time she needed to do her business, we are talking about a dog that loves the out doors and to run the yard , it was tuff for all of us the pressure sores took another month to heal , she has the scars from that so it took a total of about 4 to 5 months of recovery ! this lasted for months back and forth to the vet the surgery and meds came to $1200 but she is fine now and you would never know other then a few hair grown scares on her leg . I did a post each week all about her and her recovery . Any dog can have what Miggs went through and what your pooch is going through it doesn't stick to one breed ! My old dog used to chew on herself as well she was a Shepherd and I found out it was caused by her having a skin allergy and it was itchy there fore she chewed herself.Miggs is still what we call a bucket mouth will eat anything and everything when she can , some dogs are just like that it can be for attention may it be negative or not or they suffer some type of anxiety . Dogs that have floppy ears are more prone to ear infections more so then dogs with stand up ears though . I do hope you all can get over this and all works out .

  8. Poor doggy. Hope she gets to feeling better very soon.

  9. Poor puppy and poor you! We have two labs and I'm grateful they don't have ear issues as it's common with them. As for the chewing.....the only thing that keeps mine from chewing on themselves is an endless supply of rawhides. Good luck :)

  10. The poor thing! We've been through our share of "lab" related incidnents too. Our yellow lab had the end of her tail cut off in our back door (ouch) and our black lab is still getting over her broken leg, which turned into a cast caused nasty sore that took 4 weeks to heal... that e-collar was a godsend but my dog never stopped running into stuff... including us! All said, you can ask for more lovable dogs than a lab :)

    Hope the ear heals soon!

  11. Thanks for stopping in and for all your sweet comments, guys! Kristi, I will check out Blue Power, thanks for the tip.

    Have a great w/e!

  12. Your dog sounds like it may have an allergy to his food. It's very common especially these days with the junk that is used for dog food. I have been through several good brands of dog food and finally found one our little dog can tolerate. He is allergic to grain which is in most dog food so I went with a 0 grain food. More expensive but cheaper than a vet bill. My golden retriever on the other hand can eat anything although I noticed since putting her on a really good food and taking care to keep her ears dry inside during baths she hasn't had any ear infections. And that's a relief.

  13. Poor baby. I know it is a pain for you, but yikes -- I can't imagine how she must have felt. We have a yellow lab and have never had health problems with him. He will be 11 in February. I know this doesn't help your situation, but just letting you know that all Labs don't go through this.

    I hope little Sunny feels better.

  14. Hi. Visiting from the homestead barn hop. Sorry about your pooch. She looks so sad. Didn't know labs were prone to ear infections.

  15. Wow, that's no fun for anyone. You may want to consider Vetericyn VF for her, (I buy mine on Amazon) lots of people swear by it for hot spots, injuries and infections- I know I do. It's great to have on-hand for the unexpected too.

  16. Has your veterinarian already talked to you about allergies? Sounds like she has them pretty bad. They can cause chronic ear problems. Sometimes you just need to switch to a food that has simple, different ingredients.

  17. Awww, poor dog. My family is a lab family, and we did have one with ear infections. Turned out to be allergies. I recommend looking into it.

  18. There's something to be said for a mutt. :) Hope your furry friend feels better soon.

  19. As spoken here on some comments, I have to believe that she has allergies. I have a black lab, and yes, she does go through spells where she will chew on her leg and foot and then the hair is missing. Twice a year I've taken her in and gotten an allergy injection to help her get through it and it does help a lot. Dogs and cats can also be very allergic to flea bites, typical dog grain-type foods, certain weeds in the yard during spring and fall and just one flea on them can cause a whole lot of havoc! Her ears, well I'd talk to your vet about taking prevention steps on that if this seems to be an ongoing problem. I have a special ear drop formula that my vet makes up for me and when my dog starts shaking her head, I put a few drops down into her ears and massage the outside of her ears to help move it down. I found when the first time this happened I was told to give her these drops daily for one week, then after that twice the following week, then once the third week and to only use it after that when necessary. The injury that your dog has on her ear is most likely from her shaking her head too often and when I worked at the vets office, you would see this often and it was due to the head shaking from an infection. From what I've seen in the clinic, they do not go away easily. They get bigger. Not saying your vet was wrong, but that fluid has no where to go and the sooner it's removed, the less tramatic and least stitches, etc. Many times a tube is put in place to let the fluid drain out and then it can be removed when the stitches are. I'm not a vet and sure don't want to sound like a know it all, because I'm not, just sharing what I know has worked for me and others who deal with this issue. I hope she gets well soon and you can hopefully, both of you, get some relief! I know and feel your frustration! We love our fuzzy friends and we do try on their behalf!

  20. Poor plagued puppy! What crazy making for you! so sorry ;-(

  21. I grew up in a family with dogs and mutts with variations of the droopy ears, and one of the best on the cheap preventative methods for avoiding ear infections seemed to be my grandmother's; She cleaned out her dog's ears with a bit of vegetable oil and a paper towel regularly, to remove gunk that might cause an infection later. Her dogs never had ear infections. It can't prevent all infections in all dogs, but helps in the routine care and grooming of a family member.

    My mom uses an OTC ear drop for ear mite treatment on her dogs as a preventative treatment. A little excessive in my opinion. (My mom lives in Finland, so ingredients like Crotamiton may be prescription drugs in the U.S.), but with a quick look, even basic commercial OTC ear cleaners are made from purified olive oil, and nothing else.

    As many commenters before have said (Anonymous pretty much gave my answer already, so I'll just strongly agree on the allergies), I'd investigate the chance of allergies. Labs are commonly sensitive to grains, so you might want to check her diet, but exposure to things like pollen, or a predisposition to get extra strong reactions to something as simple as mosquitoes may cause her ear problems.

    Best of luck for figuring out a solution.

  22. So many great comments here. I am taking notes fast and furious, and will be well-armed with questions at her next vet appointment!
    Thanks so much everyone...

  23. Poor Sunny. Labs are such sweeties.
    My Mom has been researching canine health and she just found this yesterday:
    Here are the free E-books:
    We're going to try it for Cody, our 10 yr old miniature poodle.

    Best wishes for you and Sunny!

  24. In our house, we call those the "blue collar of shame" because the cats tend to hide if they have to wear one.

    I would so be checking for food allergies. So many animals have them now.

  25. So sorry to hear about your dogs problems. Have you looked into food allergies? Our dog gets yeast infections in his ear and I changed his food to a no chicken protein variety. It seems to be getting better.

  26. Ahaha, the blue collar of shame! I love it. Thanks for the sympathies and suggestions, people.

  27. If you have pampas grass it can cause supper itching from sharp hairs the grass sheds from the leaves. I have some and am going to cut it down and try that to see if my dogs itching is from ours. The only thing sad is that he love love loves to run circles around and through the stuff. Better to get rid of the itch-fest though for his and our sanity. It will be worth the try anyway. They certainly can scratch so much they injure themselves. Sorry to hear about the hematoma thing. That sounds awful. Mine just got a bacterial infection over night the size and shape of a large pea.

  28. Hi Anne!

    Just wanted to let you know that this post was one of the most viewed from last week's Farm Girl Blog Fest! Congrats!

    Would you mind linking this post back to last week's Fest? Here is the link:

    Also, Farm Girl Blog Fest #18 is live now!

    ~Kristi@Let This Mind Be in You

  29. Hi!
    Saw this on Farm Girl Fest and wanted to jump in.

    My heart and soul lab, Yellow Dog, has the leg chew thing and ear infection as well. He is 10 now and we have dealt with it forever.

    I have found (and I don't say this as medical truth....just what I have found through trial and error) that the word *infection* was continually used and zillions of antibiotics and dollars later we were no further ahead. I noticed that on one expensive ear medicine the ONLY active ingredient was Hydrocortisone 1%. So, I bought a tube of cream in the people section for $2.49 and, presto, within a few days we had a clean ear. As the cream is a bit cakey and I worried about that, I searched and found spray hydrocortison for $7.99 a bottle. MAGIC! Spritzy-spritz a few times a week and we're good to go.

    I'm of the (unofficial-untrained) mind that these are more yeast based infections and antibiotics just cause more trouble. But, like I said.....I'm only going on years of frustration and what worked.

    As for the leg.....nothing but a collar and some antiseptic spray I suppose......that problem I don't think I'll ever solve. However, when I notice the itchies coming on strong I give him 25 mgs of people Benadryl in a lump of peanutbutter and that seems to settle him.

    What we do for our dogs, huh? ;)

    I wish you well and would love to stay up to date with this. I have always thought I was all alone and doing something wrong to have a dog with these problems.

    Huggies to you and Sunny......
    There is nothing more wonderful...and this whole wide world than a lab............(even an itchy one!) ;)

    (you can find me at thegoatborrower.blogspot)

  30. Anon, Kristi, and Mimi, thanks so much for stopping by and for giving me some pointers! I'm definitely ging to try these. And Kristi, thanks for letting me know that this was a favorite on your hop!

  31. my lab has the same problems. we've gotten some gse (grapefruit seed extract) from the heath food store and are applying a few drops in her ears to see if it works. we also wash her ears with betadine and apply monistat cream for the yeast. we've just started, but if it works it will be hundreds cheaper than vet care!



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