When it comes to unexpected trips to the vet, ear infections are one of the most common causes. Here, our vets in Gillette talk about why ear infections are so common in dogs, the signs to watch for and what steps to take if your dog may have one.
What makes dogs prone to ear infections?
Unfortunately, it all comes down to the shape. A dog's ear canals are shaped differently than a human's leaving them prone to these conditions. 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.
Even so, you should be able to easily take preventive action to stop ear infections from occurring. Whether mild or severe, all ear infections in dogs must be treated quickly to avoid severe complications. Left untreated ear infections in dogs can develop quickly and result in symptoms such as balance and coordination issues, pain and in severe cases facial paralysis.
Causes of Ear Infections in Dogs
Bacteria is the leading cause of ear infections in dogs, however, yeast, fungus and ear mites can all cause your pup's ears to become infected and painful. Other causes of dog ear infections include foreign objects lodged in the ear, trauma, and tumors or polyps.
There are three types of ear infections seen in dogs depending on where the infection has occurred;
- Otitis external (outer ear infection) infections affect the outside of the ear.
- Otitis media (middle ear infection) indicates an infection in the dog's middle ear.
- Otitis internal (inner ear infection) which is the infection of your pet's inner ear.
Symptoms of Ear Infections in Dogs
Ear infections can be very painful or uncomfortable for your pup. If your dog shows any of the following signs of an ear infection contact your veterinarian immediately to book an examination for your pet. Early treatment of ear infections can help to prevent more severe symptoms from developing and reduce the chances of complications. Fungal and bacterial ear infections in dogs can each present their own symptoms but these will be similar.
Some of the most common signs of ear infections in dogs are:
- 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
For severe ear infections in dogs, you may also notice the following symptoms:
- Indications of hearing loss
- Loss of coordination or balance
- Unusual eye movements
- Walking in circles
Treating Dog Ear Infections
If your dog is diagnosed with an ear infection your vet will take the time to clean your dog's ear with a medicated cleanser and prescribe any antibiotics or anti-inflammatory medications appropriate for treating your pet's ear infection. Your veterinarian may also prescribe a topical medication and instruct you on how and when to apply it to your dog's ear at home.
Ear infections in dogs typically clear up in a week or two depending on how quickly treatment occurs. 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.
By following the instructions given by your vet you can help your dog recover and feel better 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.
If your dog has been diagnosed and treated for an ear infection you should schedule a follow-up visit with the vet. 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.
How to Prevent Ear Infections From Occurring
Our Gillette vets believe that prevention is always better than treatment when it comes to ear infections. One of the easiest ways to prevent dog ear infections is to always keep their ear dry and clean.
Speak to your primary care veterinarian about the best cleaning solution to use for your dog's ears, take the time to gently clean your dog's ears every week, and always dry your dog's ears every time they get out of 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.