Ear Infections in Dogs

Most dog ear infections are caused by yeast or bacteria trapped in the ears; however, there can be other causes, like ear mites, wax buildup, and allergies. No matter the cause, ear infections can be painful, and, if left untreated, they can cause much more serious problems. 

While some dogs never have problems with ear infections (lucky them!), there are some that are more prone to them than others. For example, dogs with long and/or especially hairy ears like Basset Hounds and Cocker Spaniels often suffer from frequent ear infections. This is because their ears stay covered most of the time, so they're an ideal breeding ground for bacteria and yeast - dark, warm, and moist. However, any dogs with allergies or who swim a lot may be prone to ear infections. 


Common Symptoms

Among the most common signs of dog ear infections are whining, shaking the head, and pawing at the ears. After all, those ears hurt, and your dog is trying to stop the pain. You may also notice that your dog's ears smell and/or have a brown or yellowish discharge. Other typical symptoms include redness, scabs, and/or crusty ears.

More extreme symptoms can include hearing loss, loss of balance, and strange eye movements.

Ear infections may often be signs of an underlying condition. “Allergies to ingredients in the pet’s food, or environmental triggers, like pollen, molds, and dust mites, are most common, but anatomical abnormalities, masses, foreign material within the ear, chronically damp ears, and hormonal disorders are also possible.” (Source)


3 Types of Canine Ear Infections

While floppy-eared and hairy-eared dogs are most prone to ear infections, any dog can get them. In fact, it's estimated that about 20% of dogs have some form of ear disease!

Not all ear infections are the same, though. Just as there can be different causes, the infection can affect different parts of the ear: the outer ear (otitis externa), middle ear (otitis media), and inner ear (otitis interna). 

"Otitis externa means that the inflammation affects the layer of cells lining the outer or external portion of the ear canal. Otitis media and interna refer to infections of the middle and inner ear canal, and they are most often are a result of the spread of infection from the external ear. These more advanced cases can be very serious, and could lead to deafness, facial paralysis, or signs of vestibular disease, such as head tilting, circling, and lack of coordination. That's why it is important to prevent and seek early treatment for ear problems.” (Source)



So what do you do if your dog has an ear infection?

The first step is giving us a call and setting up an appointment with your dog's doctor. If your dog has had ear infections before, it can be tempting to try to treat the new infection the same way you did last time. However, while it may turn out to be the same kind of infection, it may not be. Without a visit to the vet, you won't know if your dog has a fungal infection, a bacterial infection, or another problem. Knowing what kind of infection is involved determines the kinds of medicine that will effectively treat your pooch.

Next, your dog's ears need to be cleaned (putting medicine on dirty ears doesn't help much!). Click here to watch our "how-to" video for cleaning your dog's ears! After you've cleaned your dog's ears, it's time to apply any medication that was prescribed. The length of treatment will depend on your dog, the severity of the infection, and if there are any changes to the ear. Sometimes oral medications may be necessary to eliminate the infection. Finally, you'll need to bring your pup back for a recheck with the vet to make sure the infection is, truly, gone. (Source)


Learn all about your dog's earsChronic Ear Infections and Allergies

If your dog is prone to chronic ear infections, then you’ll need to discover the cause so you can prevent them. In some cases, regular cleaning once or twice a week clears up the problem while in others, it’s not so simple. In these latter cases, it often turns out to be allergy-related. Your dog may have environmental allergies, such as to pollen, or food-related allergies, such as to chicken, soy, or beef. Not to worry, though. Your vet will work with you to discover the cause of your pup's allergies and, once determined, will provide an effective treatment (medication based, food based, etc).


If you have any concerns about your dog's ears, please contact us. Breed disposition, lifestyle, and allergies can all contribute to the development of ear infections, and we're here to help you with both treatment and prevention.



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