Dog Ear Infections: Symptoms, Causes, Treatment, And Prevention
When you notice that your dog is whining, in distress, and scratching their ears non-stop up to the point of making them raw and red, chances are they might have an ear infection.
Types Of Ear Infections In Dogs
There are three forms of ear infections in dogs that affect different parts of the ear:
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- Otitis external: this affects the layer cells lining the outer and external part of the ear canal of your dog’s ear.
- Otitis media: this affects the middle ear of your dog’s ear.
- Otitis internal: this affects the inner ear of your dog’s ear.
Dogs with floppy ears, such as cocker spaniels and basset hounds are particularly prone to ear infections. However, about 20 percent of dogs have some form of an ear condition.
Ear infections can vary in severity and pain levels. They may affect one or both ears at the same time.
Advanced cases can get serious and could even lead to:
- Facial paralysis
- Signs of vestibular diseases, such as circling, lack of coordination, and head tilting
Clearly, it is important to prevent ear infections and to recognize signs for early treatment.
Symptoms Of Ear Infections In Dogs
- Frequent head shaking
- Foul odors
- Scaly skin
- Whining and pawing at the affected ear
- Dark, smelly discharge
- Redness and swelling
- Constant itchiness
What Causes Ear Infections In Dogs?
Ear infections are common in dogs because of the “L” shape ear canal of your dog that tends to hold in fluid. Other causes of ear infections in dogs include:
- Yeast/fungus, such as aspergillosis
- Moisture, which can be a perfect growing environment for bacteria and yeast
- Drug reactions
- Allergies, including skin allergies and food sensitivities
- Thyroid disorders
- Autoimmune disease, such as pemphigus
- Endocrine disorders
- Wax buildup
- Foreign bodies
- Excessive cleaning
- Meningitis or encephalitis
Diagnosis For Your Dog’s Ear Infection
If your dog is showing any symptoms of an ear infection, it is absolutely essential to get them to the vet as soon as possible for proper diagnosis and early treatment.
Don’t try to self-diagnose and self-medicate. Don’t wait to visit your vet. Go to the ER if your dog is in pain and distress in the middle of the night or over the weekend, especially if it’s a puppy. Ear infections in dogs can get painful and serious, however, they can also be treated when you have the right diagnosis.
Your vet will ask you about:
- Duration of any symptoms, including any pain, swelling, discharge, odor
- What your dog has been eating and their appetite
- Your dog’s allergies or other conditions
- How often you clean your dog’s ears and if you’ve trimmed hair in their ear
- Any recent activities, such as swimming, rainy walks, romping in a field, visiting the groomer
- If they are on or have recently been on any medication
- If they have or recently had other health concerns
- History of ear infections and their length and treatment outcome
Your vet will also do a physical examination. This may involve sedation if your dog’s ear is in too much pain to be handled. Your vet will examine both ears.
The exam may include:
- Visual assessment for redness, crusts, swelling, blood and other signs
- Gentle palpation of the ear to assess level of pain
- Microscopic examination of tissue samples from ear
- Tissue culture
- Examination with an otoscope for any foreign objects, wax buildup, mites, or eardrum damage
- X-rays and biopsies in serious cases
How Are Dog Ear Infections Treated?
Your vet will clean your dog’s ears carefully. They will likely prescribe them topical medication or systematic antibiotics. In most cases, they also prescribe something for the pain, and if needed, steroids for the inflammation.
You can administer these medications at home. You may be advised to clean your dog’s ears again in five to seven days.
In most cases, ear infections in dogs clear up within 10 to 30 days. In chronic cases, it may take months. Preventative methods, early treatment, and following your vet’s orders are essential to prevent chronic ear infection in dogs.
Preventing Ear Infections In Dogs
Prevention is always the best approach when it comes to your dog’s health.
Dry your dog’s ears throughout and after swimming and baths.
When cleaning your dog’s ear, fill their ear canal with a cleaning solution and massage the vertical ear canal from the outside. Use an absorbent gauze to wipe the ear canal, instead of paper towels or cotton which can cause irritation. You can use cotton on the ear flap, but not inside. NEVER stick anything directly down the ear canal though, as this can cause pain and damage.
CLEAR ME For Healthy Ears In Dogs
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Clear Me is very simple to use. Simply grab firmly on your dog’s ear flap and fill the entire ear canal with cleanser. Have some gauze or a cotton ball ready to remove excess liquids and massage the ear canal at the base of your dog’s ear. Clear Me takes care of the rest, breaking down wax and build up while dislodging debris. Simply wipe your dog’s ear until the cotton ball is clean and that’s it! Best of all, you can use Clear Me daily if necessary because we’ve made sure it’s gentle and non-toxic!
Thanks to Clear Me, you can be sure that your dog’s ears will be healthy, clean, and stand the best chance at preventing ear infections.
Has your dog ever had an ear infection? How did you help them to recover? What measures are you taking to prevent ear infections in your dog? Share your thoughts with us. We would love to hear from you.