Ear Infections in Dogs – Symptoms and Treatment

Most of the Dog Owners are mostly aware of the snitch signs of Ear Infections in Dogs, of which head shaking, scratching, and whining are the first common signs of Ear Infections in Dogs.

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Ear infection is considered to be the common condition in dogs, especially the breed with floppy ears like Cocker Spaniels or Basset Hounds.

It is estimated that over 20% of dogs usually develop a type of ear infection that may affect either one or both the ears.

But, some measures can minimize the length and severity of Ear Infections in Dogs

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Types of Ear Infections in Dogs

There are three different types of ear infections, and this includes Otitis Externa, Interna, and Media. 

  • The most common is the Otitis Externa that is a type of inflammation affecting the layer of cell lining in the external part of the ear canal.
  • Interna and Oritis Media are the type of ear infections that affect the inner and middle ear canal, respectively. These are the types of infections that spread mainly from the external ear, making it a serious kind of infection that may lead to facial paralysis, deafness, and vestibular signs. So, you must put all your efforts in preventing these infections and seek early treatment at its onset.   

Signs of Ear Infections in Dogs

In most of the cases, Dogs will show up no signs or symptoms apart from wax build-up or discharge from the ear canal.

But, any of these ear infections cause severe discomfort to the dog, and some of the infected dogs may show up some following symptoms.

  • Dark discharge
  • Head shaking
  • Scratching at affected ear
  • Dour
  • Itchiness
  • Pain
  • Crusting or scabs in their ears
  • Redness and swelling of the ear canal

What are the Causes of Ear Infections in Dogs?

The ear canal of the dogs is very vertical as compared to the humans, and this forms an L-Shape, which tends to hold the fluid longer.

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Due to this, L-Shape dogs are prone to ear infections. The Ear Infections in Dogs are mainly caused by yeast, bacteria, or a combination of both yeast and bacteria.

While they are puppies, ear mites can also cause ear infections. Some of the other factors which may make your dog more prone to ear infection include:

  • Allergies like skin allergy are the primary factors to cause ear infections in more than 50% of dogs across the world. Over 80% of dogs usually have ear infections due to food sensitivities. 
  • Moisture which is the primary breeding ground for bacteria and yeast can also cause ear infections in most of the dogs.
  • Endocrine Disorders which is a type of thyroid disorder and this may even cause ear infection, but the percentage is very low indeed.
  • Foreign bodies.
  • Wax build-up.
  • Injury in the ear canal.
  • Unwarranted cleaning of the ears.

Diagnosis for Ear Infections in Dogs

If your dog is showing any common symptoms of ear infections, then it essential that you take your dog to the nearest Veterinarian at the earliest to avoid complications later.

In the cases of ear infection, quick treatment is vital for the comfort of the dog and minimizes the pain affecting their behavior.

Early diagnosis and treatment can prevent the infection from spreading to the inner and middle ear canal. You must avoid treating conditions like this at home without seeking help of vets. 

Being the pet owner, you need to take your dog to a vet and provide all the medical history of your dog and discuss the symptoms with them.

This is quite essential for the pet owner to disclose all medical history of the dog if it is the case of first-time infection. You need to share the following details with your Vet.

  • Duration of the symptoms like swelling, pain, odor, and discharge
  • If your dog is under any medication 
  • If they are having any kind of allergies or other underlying medical illnesses
  • What your dog is consuming and not
  • Frequency of cleaning the ears of your dog and what cleaning product you use for cleaning the ears
  • If you have plucked or trimmed the hair of the dog’s ear earlier
  • Recent activities of the dog-like swimming, grooming, and bathing
  • If your dog is having a clear history of ear infections, when it was last occurred and how it was treated and what medications were prescribed for the ear infection occurred earlier 

Once the Veterinarian gathers the history of the dog, he/she will perform the physical examination for the dog.

Ear Infections in Dogs – Symptoms and Treatment 1

In some of the cases, your Vet may also prescribe sedating injection to facilitate the physical examination easily into the ear canal of the dog.

In the examination, the Vet will check their ears, and the exam includes:

  • Visual assessment to look for the symptoms like swelling, redness, and discharge
  • Gentle palpation to the ears to evaluate the severity of the pain
  • Tests with otoscope that allow the doctor to examine the ear canal and their eardrum
  • Culture of samples extracted from ears
  • Microscopic exam of samples that are taken by swabbing their ears
  • Finally x-rays or biopsies in severe and chronic cases    

How Are Ear Infections in Dogs Treated?

The treatment procedure for Ear Infections in Dogs starts with cleaning of the ears with medicated ear cleaner.

Your Vet may ask you to use a cleaner or other topical medication at home for your dog ears.

In some of the serious cases, the doctor may also prescribe some oral antibiotics as well as anti-inflammatory medications. 

The severe cases of Ear Infections in Dogs are treated successfully within 10-15 days, but proper treatment needs to be started timely during the onset of the infection.

The ear infections caused due to underlying conditions may usually take a long time and even months to get successfully treated, and some may even convert into chronic disorder for some dogs.

In chronic conditions of ear infections where other traditional treatments were failed, the doctor may prescribe you to take your dog for a surgical procedure like Total Ear Canal Ablation or TECA.

This is the surgical procedure where the ear canal is removed along with the infected tissues, and this prevents the infection from recurrence

You must follow the instruction of your Veterinarian carefully and always take your dog for recheck appointments, as suggested.

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Overlooking or ignoring the dog’s treatment may cause the recurrence of ear infections.

The full course of treatment must be completed even if the dog seems to be better and recovering from infection.

Failing to complete the full course of treatment may lead to other complications like resistant infections. 

How to Prevent Ear Infections in Dogs?

Alike all other diseases and disorders, prevention of Ear Infections in Dogs is also possible, and this is always best than treatment options.

There are certain measures that you need to take to prevent your dog from having ear infections.

Since excessive moisture build-up is the primary cause of ear infections in dogs, you must ensure to thoroughly clean the ears and keep them dry after bathing and swimming activity.

If your dog is prone to recurrent or chronic ear infections, you need to identify it and manage the underlying cause of their ear infections like allergies, which can help prevent the occurrence of new infections in your dog. 

Cleaning the ears of dog at home can also prevent your dog from having ear infections. But excessive cleaning of the ear is not suggested.

Regular cleaning is important, but the unwarranted ear cleaning must be avoided at all.

You need to use prescribed cleaning solutions and massage the vertical ear canal from outside.

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Wipe out the canal using some absorbent gauze. You need to do the cleaning mainly after bathing and swimming and avoid cleaning it daily, which is not important at all. 

Ear Infections in Dogs are the common disorder in most of the dogs and often considered as a recurrent issue in many dog breeds.

But with the right treatment from your Veterinarian and at the right time, you can keep your dog protected and prevent them from having ear infections.

You must ensure keeping the ears of your dog clean always and comfortable.

If your dog is showing any signs or symptoms of ear infection, you need to seek treatment immediately without delays to avoid problems, which may become a serious and threatening issue later.

Diagnosing and treatment for ear infection timely and from the right Veterinarian is extremely important and necessary if you are highly concerned about the health of your dog and also desire to give them a comfortable life ahead.

Ear infections are not serious if the right treatment is offered at the right time, especially at the onset of the infection. So, keep tracking your dog symptoms and take them seriously always.   

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