Ear infections are a common reason for dogs to visit our Sharpsburg emergency animal hospital. Fortunately, most ear infections in dogs are easy to treat if caught early. Here are some of the signs of dog ear infections, and what to do if your dog's ears aren't as healthy as they should be.
Your Dog's Ears
Dogs are generally more susceptible to ear infections than people due to the shape of their ear canals. If your canine companion loves to swim or has long floppy ears they will be even more susceptible to ear infections since moisture can become trapped in the ear and create an ideal environment for bacteria to thrive.
Nonetheless, with a little extra care, you can help prevent your dog from getting ear infections, and if your dog does get an infection, there's a good chance it can be cleared up quickly if you take him to the vet right away. Ear infections in dogs can progress quickly and cause symptoms such as balance and coordination problems, pain, and, in severe cases, facial paralysis.
Causes of Dog Ear Infections
Although bacteria are the most common cause of ear infections in dogs, yeast, fungus, and ear mites can also cause your pup's ears to become infected and painful. Foreign objects in the ear, trauma, and tumors or polyps are other causes of dog ear infections.
There are three types of ear infections seen in dogs depending on where the infection has occurred;
- Otitis externa infections affect the outside of the ear. (Outer ear infection).
- Otitis media indicates an infection in the dog's middle ear. (Middle ear infection)
- Otitis internal, which is an infection of your dog's inner ear. (Inner ear infection)
Signs That Your Dog May Have an Ear Infection
Ear infections in your dog can be extremely painful or uncomfortable. If your dog exhibits any of the following symptoms of an ear infection, contact your veterinarian right away to schedule an examination. Early treatment of ear infections can help to prevent the development of more severe symptoms and reduce the likelihood of complications.
Common signs of ear infections in dogs include:
- Pawing or rubbing at the ear
- Brown, yellow, or bloody discharge
- Odor in the ear
- Redness inside of the ear
- Head shaking
- Tilting head
- Crusts or scabs just inside the ear
- Swelling of the ear
If your dog's ear infection is severe you may notice that your pooch displays other symptoms such as:
- Indications of hearing loss
- Loss of coordination or balance
- Unusual eye movements
- Walking in circles
How Dog Ear Infections Are Treated
If your dog has an ear infection, your vet will clean it with a medicated cleanser and prescribe any antibiotics or anti-inflammatory medications that are necessary to treat your pet's ear infection. A topical medication may also be prescribed by your veterinarian, along with instructions on how and when to apply it to your dog's ear at home.
With treatment in the early stages, an uncomplicated ear infection will typically clear up within just a week or two. If your dog's ear infection is more severe or is caused by an underlying health condition, treatment may be more challenging and may take months to resolve. In many cases, more severe cases result in chronic ear infections in dogs or repeated ear infections over the course of the pet's lifetime.
Carefully following your veterinarian's instructions will be essential to healing your dog's ear infection as quickly as possible. Not finishing prescriptions, or stopping treatment before the infection has completely cleared can lead to a recurring infection that becomes increasingly difficult to treat.
Follow-up appointments with your vet are highly recommended for dog ear infections. While it may look as if the infection has cleared there may still be traces of infection that are difficult for owners to spot. Finishing treatment before the infection has fully healed can lead to recurring symptoms that are difficult to treat.
Preventing Ear Infections in Dogs
Our Sharpsburg vets believe that prevention is always better than treatment when it comes to ear infections. To help prevent your pup from developing an ear infection it is important to keep your pet's ears clean and dry.
Speak with your primary care veterinarian about the best cleaning solution for your dog's ears, and take the time to gently clean your dog's ears once a week. Always dry your dog's ears after they come out of the water.
Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding pets. For an accurate diagnosis of your pet's condition, please make an appointment with your vet.