What to do if your dog has an ear infection? Dog ear infections are a super common thing in dogs, and some breeds are more prone then others.
Whether you are a new dog parent or have been around the block with dogs for a while, anything that comes up with their health can be scary. The goal is by talking about it, I can help give you the knowledge you need to know about your dogs ear health.
Let’s look at some types of ear infections and what can cause them. Also what to watch for and what you can do to help.
Types and causes
When it comes to ear infections, there are really 2 different types.
- Outer ear infection – outside of the ear drum
- Middle or inner ear infection – on the inside of the ear membrane
The most common type of dog ear infection is the outer ear infection. Caused by a damp environment, excess wax buildup, allergies or ear trauma. This damp environment than causes cocci, rod bacteria or yeast to grow in the outer ear. An outer ear infection can also lead to an inner ear infection. Ear mites are also one of the main causes of over 90% of ear infections.
An inner ear infection if not caused by an outer infection can occur when a pathogen infections the inner membrane of the ear. Caused by bacteria, fungi or yeast. There is also the issue of overgrown hair inside the ear that can cause bacteria or yeast to grow. That is why keeping their hair cut inside the ear is important.
Dog breeds that have long floppy ears like Cocker Spaniels, and Basset Hounds are far more susceptible than some other breeds. An estimated 20% of all dogs have some form of ongoing ear disease.
Things like skin allergies, food sensitivities and many other allergens are also a risk factor for ear infections. Dogs that have auto immune disorders or thyroid disease also can be affected.
One of the reasons that dogs are at risk of ear infection is the design of their ear is an L shape. In the base of the L, fluid has a tendency to build up there causing far more ear infections than human ears.
Now that we know some causes of how your dog can get an ear infection. It is important to know the signs to watch for that your dog may start to exhibit.
- Shaking head
- Head tilt
- Scratching ears
- Red ears
- Hot ears
- Odor coming from the ear
- Small bumps
- Dark crumbly red discharge
- Swelling of the ear
Some early symptoms that your dog may exhibit on that list may come on slowly. You may not notice it right away.
Although you may think that these symptoms aren’t that dramatic, the problem really arises when your dog starts constantly scratching. They usually use their back legs to get at their ears and their sharp claws can actually cause scabs or even create a hot spot.
If you suspect that your dog may have an ear infection you should take your dog to the vet right away.
Depending on the type of ear infection they have, you want to get it looked at right away. Things like ear mites can quickly become overwhelming and very painful for your dog if they aren’t looked at right away. Any type of ear infection is uncomfortable and at risk of spreading farther inside the ear.
When at the vet, they will ask for a complete history of the issue and what symptoms your dog is experiencing. It is also important that they know the duration of your dog’s symptoms to try to get an understanding of how long your dog has had it.
Like any doctor, they will ask basic questions like:
- Is your dog on medication
- What kind of food do they eat
- Have you been cleaning your dog’s ear
- What are you using to clean their ears with
- Have they been swimming or in a pool
- Previous ear infections and how they were treat
The vet will than perform a visual inside the ear with an otoscope. Looking for noticeable signs like swelling and redness. Then a gentle touching of your dog’s ear to see how painful. A culture of the inside of the ear by swabbing the ear using a Q-tip will than be looked at under a microscope.
Once the results are back, you vet will inform you of what the diagnosis is and provide the proper treatment to clear it up.
Whether it is ear mites, bacteria or for most types of ear infections, the vet will first clean out the ear with medicated ear cleanser. Once clean, a topical medication will be put inside your dog’s ear and rubbed inside the ear for a few minutes. This works the medication deep into the ear, which is very important when putting in ear drops.
Depending on what the diagnosis is, your dog may also need oral antibiotics and even an inflammatory medication for ear swelling.
At home, you will be required to insert the drops in your dog’s ears 1 to 2 times per day. Making sure to provide the treatment each day at the same time every day. Then making sure to complete the entire prescription before stopping. You don’t want your dog to continue to get reoccurring ear infections, which are also common if not treated completely. Most treatment lasts approximately 2 weeks, but if your dog has a more severe infection it can take months for it to go away.
Following your vet’s instructions perfectly is crucial to being successful at getting rid of an ear infection for good.
Like many health issues that come up with our dogs, if we can be preventative with our care, that can help with stopping a developing issues before they start. When it comes to our dogs ears, keeping them clear of dirt, wax buildup, hair and bacteria free is a great way to do that.
Did you know that you can actually buy dog ear wipes that are great for weekly ear cleaning. This step alone can help reduce the risk of your dog developing an ear infection.
There are many amazing at home products that we can use to clean our dogs regularly from ear sprays, to pads, or a good pair of hair puller or scissors to keep the hair short and clean. Whatever ear cleaning option you choose, you want to make sure that you stay on top of it.
Making sure our dogs ear are properly taken care of is just as important as their teeth, eyes and everything else. Dogs already have such a short life span, keeping their entire body healthy will go a long way in lengthening their life.
Not to mention that a when you dog is clean and well maintained, they feel better about themselves. Don’t we want our dogs to always feel their best.
Our previous dogs BOO and FINN always had clean ears and were well taken care of. With our new puppy FERGUS, our commitment is the exact same. Dog parents have one job to do and that is to do their very best to raise a Happy, Healthy, Well-balanced dog!
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