Dog Ear Infections: Symptoms, Causes, Treatment, and Prevention
Did you know that dogs can come down with ear infections just like humans can? Although dogs may not be as prone to ear infections as some other species, they can still become afflicted with this condition in certain circumstances.
If you are a dog owner, it’s a good idea to familiarize with the symptoms, causes, treatment, and prevention of dog ear infections. This way, you’ll know how to recognize ear infections when they arise, what to do for them, and how to stop them from happening again in the future.
Symptoms of Dog Ear Infections
- Head tilt: Tilting the head to one side more often than not may signify a buildup of fluid in the ears.
- Scratching and rubbing: This is a sign of many types of allergies in dogs, but may also signify ear infections.
- Strong odor from the ears: If you smell something unpleasant coming from your dog’s ears, he may have an infection.
- Oozing from the ears: Oozing is a telltale sign of an ear infection in dogs.
- Crusty ears: Scabs around your dog’s ears may be a sign of infection or of over-scratching, which is a sign in itself.
- Lack of balance when walking: Since ear infections can cause balance and mobility issues, dogs may sway or seem off-balance when walking, running, or jumping if they have an ear infection.
- Redness and swelling: A badly infected ear may visibly swell or turn red and hot to the touch.
Causes of Dog Ear Infections
- Hairy ears: Too much hair in a dog’s ears may cause bacteria to build up within the ear, causing an infection.
- Earwax: If your dog has too much wax in his ears, it may eventually cause swelling, fluid, and pain.
- Moisture: Moisture left in a dog’s ear after swimming or being bathed can contribute to dog ear infections.
- Parasites: Although parasites may not always cause infections, ear mites are a common underlying factor.
- Tumors: Dogs with tumors or polyps in their ears may be especially prone to developing ear infections, although these problems may also cause different types of blockages as well.
- Allergies: Just like humans, dogs can develop frequent ear infections associated with seasonal allergies and other types of allergies as well.
- Physical injury: If your dog has been injured inside his ear—such as getting scratched while playing with another dog or even while scratching himself—this injury could collect bacteria and eventually cause an infection.
- Floppy ears: Dogs with naturally floppy ears are more prone to ear infections than dogs with ears that stand up or remain short and cropped close to the head. This is because the inner ear becomes more closed-off and can easily build up bacteria, moisture, wax, and other contributing factors that may cause infection.
How Dog Ear Infections are Treated
Antibiotics or Fungicides
Your dog will probably be given either an antibiotic or a fungicide for his ear infection, depending on whether it is caused by a bacterium or a fungus. In some cases, he may also be given treatment for parasites such as fleas or ear mites.
In-Office Ear Cleaning
Most dogs with ear infections will receive a cleaning while still at the vet’s office. This cleaning will remove wax, trim long hair, and generally give medication a better chance to do its job.
Medicated Ear Drops
Finally, your dog will receive medicated ear drops that can treat the infection. You will need to give your dog these drops for a couple of weeks. Be sure to ask your veterinarian for a demonstration of how to perform this task.
Preventing Dog Ear Infections
- Dry the ears: After washing or swimming, dogs should have their ears dried thoroughly, inside and out. This goes double for dogs with floppy ears.
- Keep the ears clean: Frequently clean your dog’s ears using a dog-safe commercial ear cleaning solution. Your vet may be able to recommend a good variation.
- Trimming ear hair: By keeping your dog’s ear hair trimmed close, you can help prevent some of the leading causes of ear infections.
- Never using Q-tips: Do not ever use a Q-tip on your dog’s ears. These items are not safe for use in a dog’s ears under any circumstances.
As you can see, there is a lot to learn about ear infections in dogs. However, when you take time to understand the symptoms and causes of this condition, you can be better prepared to take your dog to the vet and manage his treatment, too.
Best of all, with the right knowledge, you can work to prevent future ear infections so your dog does not have to go through the same problem again in the future. Keep the information in the article above in mind, and don’t hesitate to call (616) 754–9633 and talk to your vet at Greenville Animal Hospital if you have any more questions or concerns.
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About Greenville Animal Hospital
At Greenville Animal Hospital, our veterinarians and team believe that change is good, and we continually work to embrace change by treating every patient like the individual they are. What’s more, we are dedicated to efficient, modern veterinary medicine. We offer text and email reminders for clients, as well as a comprehensive hospital App that you can access anytime, anywhere to view all your pet’s vaccine records, message the hospital, request a refill or appointment. Embracing change also means advancing our practice with the latest veterinary techniques and equipment, so your pet always receives the best possible care.