Cool, that's what I was thinking- I could just increase the ear hygiene aspect of things for now. That is just good practice in general, right? And I got some ear cleaner from the vet- I have been struggling to feel confident about how to select one from the pet store and regularly use it in his wee ears. The type the breeder recommended isn't available over here, but it was something she recommended from the vet.
I don't want to be negligent but I was thinking I wouldn't switch the food for a little while. He is doing well on it, though like I said he does scratch and chew himself at times, but no red marks yet. After some google searches (sometimes googling isn't the best idea!) I started to get the idea that all ear infections turn into horrible chronic things if you don't address the underlying issues. So yeah I think I will get this cleared up, then take him for his first grooming and get the pros to pull his ear hair since I seem to be unable to! Then keep up with a more regular ear cleaning regime.
I have been trying to use positive reinforcement to get him used to having his ears handled but I was having real problems. Well the sensitivity he had was for good cause, so maybe it will be easier after this. Just starting simple with the bottle goes near your head, touches your ear, then click/treat.
I got the idea from one of the kikopup videos to create a "calm" marker. So I have been experimenting with using "Yes" when we do grooming activities or densensitization instead of the click. It also helps for me to have one more hand since most of those activities require both hands. Otherwise he seems to think he has to do _something_ to earn the click/treat. When the idea is for him to do _nothing_!
Chronic ear infections ARE a bad thing. But one doesn't make for "chronic", and honestly, Havanese aren't known for chronic ear problems. That tends to be water breeds like the retrievers and REALLY long eared breeds like the spaniels.
As far as the chewing is concerned, it MIGHT be food related, but in Kodi's case, it is clearly related to something in wet grass. It ONLY happens at the times of year when the grass is really wet for prolonged periods. Because of this, I'm guessing it might be a mildew issue. In his case, it can't be a food allergy, because it is very obviously seasonal, even though he eats the same food year round.
Just remember that the experience with plucking ears is all over the place too. I have seen as many people say their dogs got ear infections AFTER plucking as I have seen people say that they think their dogs got ear infections because they WEREN'T plucking. I think, unless you have a dog with really REALLY hairy ears that are blocking all air flow, you really have to play that one by ear. (no pun intended) Kodi doesn't have a ton of ear hair, and I don't pluck his ears at all. I do have ear drops taht the vet suggested I use after swimming. But Kodi decided after adolescence that he was a "wading only" dog, so that became a non-issue. He never gets his ears wet except by me in the bath!
(and then I'm careful not to get water inside his ears, of course)
I also do think that at least some of Archer's resistance to ear handling was because his ear was so uncomfortable. Hopefully, when that is resolved, you can get him to accept normal care more easily.