Did you know that dogs are more prone to getting ear infections than humans are? A dog ear infection is because of the way their ear canals are shaped. Ear infections are never fun, and some dog breeds are more likely to get ear infections than other breeds. However, there are ways to prevent it from happening. That’s why we’ve put together a complete guide about dog ear infections and how to treat them.
What is a dog ear infection?
Ear infections are more common in dog breeds who have floppy ears. For example, Basset Hounds, Cocker Spaniels, and Beagles may get ear infections often. This is why it’s always a good idea to keep an eye on their ears and clean them regularly. But what happens if they do get an ear infection?
Well, first, you need to recognize what type of ear infection it is. Yes, there are three types of ear infections.
Otitis externa is an inflammation that affects the cells lining the external portion of the ear canal. This is also the most common type of ear infection that dogs may get.
The other two types of dog ear infections are similar. Otitis media refers to the middle of the ear canal, while Otitis interna refers to the internal ear canal. While these types are less common, they can be more series. For example, if not treated right away, it may result in deafness, vestibular signs, and facial paralysis.
What causes a dog ear infection?
Remember when we mentioned that dogs are more prone to ear infections than humans? This is because their ear canal is vertical. As a result, their ears are prone to have bacteria or yeast build up. For puppies, ear mites can also be a concern.
A dog ear infection may be caused by a few things, such as moisture. This is a prime growing environment for bacteria, yeast, and mites. Allergies may also be a factor. If your pup has food sensitivities or skin allergies, then that can affect their ear canal. Endocrine disorders (such as thyroid disease) may also cause this infection, along with autoimmune disorders.
Other causes may be:
- Ear canal injury
- Excessive cleaning
- Foreign bodies
- Wax buildup
Now that we know the many causes of a dog ear infection, what symptoms should you watch out for?
Symptoms of a dog ear infection
Ear infections can be painful and uncomfortable. However, every dog is different. Some may show no signs that they have an infection. This is why it’s important to regularly check on your dog’s ears and keep them as clean as you can. In addition, your dog might show signs of discomfort from you poking at their ear.
Some dogs will show symptoms, though. So, here are some signs you can watch out for if you suspect your pup might have an ear infection.
- Crusting or scabs in the ears
- Dark discharge from the ears
- Head shaking
- Redness or swelling of the ear canal
- Scratching at the affected ear
Diagnosing your dog’s ear infection
Should you happen to notice any of the signs listed above (or you notice your doggo is uncomfortable), the first thing you want to do is call the veterinarian. They’ll want to see your dog for a check-up where they can inspect your dog’s ears. You’ll want to get treatment as quickly as possible so that your dog will no longer be in pain but also so that the infection doesn’t spread to the rest of their ear.
Your vet will need to know a few things about your furry friend to diagnose an ear infection properly. For example, they’ll ask about the duration of symptoms, what symptoms your dog is showing, if your dog has any allergies or underlying medical conditions and if your dog is on medication.
Your vet may also ask what your dog eats, how often you clean their ears and which products you use, or if your dog has been groomed, bathed, or went swimming recently. Some ear infections are common for dogs, so they may also ask when the last time they had an ear infection (if your dog has had one before).
Chances are, your vet will already know all this information. However, if you recently got your dog or your switched vets, these are things your dog’s veterinarian is going to need to know.
Then, your vet will get examining your pooch so they can properly diagnose what’s going on. This exam may include:
- A visual assessment
- Biopsies or x-rays (for severe cases)
- Culture of samples from the ears
- Examination with the otoscope
- Gentle palpation of the ear (to check the level of pain)
How to treat your dog’s ear infection
Luckily, if caught and treated early, ear infections are treatable and will go away with some medication. Your vet may thoroughly clean the inside of your dog’s ears with a medicated ear cleaning solution. They may prescribe one for you to use at home. In severe cases, they may even prescribe oral antibiotics.
Your dog’s ear infection should clear right up in about one to two weeks. In some cases, if the ear infection is severe, it could take a couple of months and possibly turn into a more chronic problem. However, it shouldn’t come to that if treated properly and quickly.
Can you prevent ear infections in dogs?
You can prevent ear infections from occurring before they happen. This is the best way to treat your dog’s ear infection because there’s no infection to treat!
Moisture within your dog’s ear is one of the most common ways your dog can get an ear infection. So, after swimming and after bathing your pup, be sure to dry their ears thoroughly. Cleaning your dog’s ears often is a good way to prevent infections as well.
Caring for your dog’s ears is easier than it seems
Ear infections in dogs sound intimidating and, sometimes, they can be. However, symptoms are easy enough to notice, and you can easily prevent ear infections from happening.
All you need to do is keep your pup’s ears clean and take them to the vet for regular check-ups. Your pooch will thank you later.