Q: Just made an appointment with my vet for my 13 year old goldendoodle, who again has what smells like an ear infection and crusty scabs on his underside and hindquarters a few days after returning of the groomer. For now, I have some antibiotic ointment left that I was given earlier for the same thing and apply to his skin until he is seen. Why does this keep happening? He has a heart condition for which he is being treated, but I suspect it has nothing to do with the repeated skin and ear infections, which seem to be much more frequent now. Could it be age related? Adding in the recent heat wave, he seems a bit uneasy and wonders if there is anything else we can do or what needs to be done to get to the bottom of this.
A: There are several plausible explanations for your old dog’s repeated ear and skin problems. Hot weather may or may not be a factor depending on whether the dog was swimming outside, exposed to irritants, or simply not kept in cool areas which could have allowed the problems to escalate and get worse. There may be underlying health issues that need addressing, and as you suggest, the heart is not the likely cause. A low thyroid can contribute to this, your dog’s immune system can slow down with age, or it’s always possible your dog is sensitive to the shampoos or products your current groomer uses, since you mention this happens more now.
You should definitely take the results to the groomer and ask them to consider using something different on your dog and see if it works. Has your dog been exposed to ectoparasites such as fleas or ticks and are you using adequate preventive agents for this? Having bugs crawling on the skin can make a dog itchy and create the kind of problems you’ve noticed. It is wise to schedule your dog to be seen by your veterinarian, as the obvious may not be obvious. They may prescribe different medications such as ear drops or antibiotics. In the meantime, you may want to consider cleaning your dog’s ears if there is any irritation or discharge that builds up. For now I also think it may be safe to use what you have at home on the affected areas, but if things get worse stop using the ointment until your dog be seen.
Dr. John de Jong owns and operates the Boston Mobile Veterinary Clinic. He can be reached at 781-899-9994.