As many dog owners know, ear infections are very common in dogs, especially those with floppy ears. Our dogs can’t tell us that they have an infection (obviously) so we owners have to look out for the different signs. Because a dog’s ear canals face downward from the ear opening, it is easy for debris or water to shoot down the funnel making dogs especially susceptible to ear infections. Frequent bathing, swimming and incorrect cleaning methods can also lead to infections.
The below symptoms could mean that your dog might have an ear infection:
Ear scratching, brown, yellow or bloody discharge, odor in the ear, redness, swelling, crusted or scabby skin on the near ear flap, hair loss around the ear, wiping the ear area on the floor or furniture, head shaking or head tilt, loss of balance, or some hearing loss.
Dogs with floppy ears are more prone to get ear infections:
Dogs who are prone to allergies or have floppy ears can be especially vulnerable. These include cocker spaniels, golden retrievers and poodles. Dogs who tend to grow hair in the inner ear canal, such as schnauzers or basset hounds, are also susceptible to ear infections.
Make sure to check my ears!
If you think your dog has an ear infection, please take them to the vet
A veterinarian can usually diagnose an ear infection by examining the ear canal and ear drum with a magnifying ear cone similar to devices used on people. Depending on the extent of the exam, it could require your dog being sedated. A sample of ear discharge may be examined to look for bacteria, yeast and parasites. Your vet may also suggest taking some blood work and allergy tests to determine the root causes.
It’s important not to self-diagnose ear problems, as improperly treated infections may lead to chronic pain or deafness in dogs. Make sure to let your vet determine the cause of your dog’s symptoms.
Treatment for ear infections
Many ear infections can be treated with a professional cleaning followed by regular cleaning and medication given at home. Your veterinarian may prescribe topical and/or oral medicine. For severe or chronic cases, anesthesia and ear flushing may be necessary.
How to prevent ear infections
Check your dog’s ears regularly for discharge, odor, swelling and other symptoms of infections.
If your dog’s ear canals appear dirty, clean them with a cotton ball dampened with a solution that your vet recommends.
After baths and swimming, be sure to dry your dog’s ears as thoroughly and carefully as you can.
If your dog is prone to infections, ask your vet if canine ear-drying solution would be beneficial.
If your dog grows hair in or around the opening of his ear canals, try to tweeze it away (if your dog tolerates it) or have your groomer do so.
As always, if your dog is showing any of the symptoms described above, make sure to see your vet as soon as possible. Please also remember that that even though dogs in pain don’t always show it with outward signs, a sudden increase in aggression can be a sign of physical pain. Such behavioral changes should also trigger that you should take your dog to your vet.