Dog ear infections are fairly common in most dogs and can be treated easily by over-the-counter medication. They can also be easily avoided by cleaning your dog’s ears with simple ear cleaner and cotton swabs. However, dog ear infections, if left untreated or ignored can cause serious complications in your fur-baby.
A. Types of Dog Ear Infections
1. Fungal / Bacterial
A fungal or yeast infection is caused due to accumulation of moisture in a dog’s ear. Fungal infections are easier to treat than mites. The ear cleaning process needs to be thorough and constant. The fungi should be completely ameliorated from the ear as a slight negligence can cause the infection to come back.
Ear cleaning solutions for your furry pets are available which can be bought from dog stores or at the veterinary hospital. Frequent ear cleaning is the only way to avoid repeated ear infections. If these infections reach the middle and inner ear, topical medication will not be able to help this. In rare cases, surgery needs to be performed. Yeast or fungal infections can occur in any breed of dog but is most common in breeds that have excess hair on the ear head.
On the other hand, bacterial infection occurs when your dog is exposed to any type of harmful bacteria. This can cause severe ear infections which will need to be checked by a vet. Bacterial infections can be treated with oral antibiotics and future ear infections can be avoided completely with a healthy weekly dose of pro and prebiotics. However, always ask your vet before administering the medications.
2. Infection in Otitis
Dog ear infection takes place in the accessible part of the ear, Otitis Externa. The external ear canal develops an infection and swells up. However, it is a common condition in all canines and can be treated with antibiotics easily.
But unfortunately, it is not uncommon to observe dog parents ignoring their furry best friends’ discomfort and causing an escalation of the infection instead. If the condition is left untreated, it can lead to chronic ear infections which can cause deafness or the need of displacing the eardrum.
It is important to treat dog ear infections before the infection spreads to the middle ear because then the infection can spread to the inner ear and can severely harm your fur baby. That can cause hyperplasia which is the closing of the ear canal. In such cases, the ear canal has to be removed permanently and can produce side effects like facial paralysis or permanent deafness.
3. Infection due to scratching
Sometimes, your pet’s ear infection can be caused due to some trivial circumstances. For example, your dog scratched too hard on their ear and now has an open wound. This can cause the inflammation of a blood vessel, Aural Hematoma, and can be infectious in its own way.
To treat this severe reaction, you have to visit a veterinarian. They will instruct and guide you on keeping your dog’s ears in check. They will also prescribe an ear drop that you can apply to avoid recurrent ear infections.
4. Ear Mites
The most common cause of dog ear infections is ear mites. Adult dogs are prone to ear infections if they are let out in open areas with a lot of grass and fauna or if they come in contact with puppies or kittens with mites.
Just like ticks and fleas, mites are highly contagious and can easily be passed through animal contact. If your dog comes in contact with an already infected pet, they are bound to catch an ear mite.
The symptoms of ear mites are very easy to spot. Your dog will start scratching continuously and black gooey secretion oozes out of the ear canals. If this scratching continues it can cause open wounds which can further worsen the condition. Ear mite scratching can also be spotted easily by checking for abrasions in the external ear of your dog. The wounds get festered because of the incessant scratching.
Some easy to spot symptoms of mites are:
- Ceaseless head shaking.
- Ear scratching.
- Abrasions inside the ear.
- Sensitive to touch around the ears.
- Black gooey substances in the ear canals.
These parasites that feed on earwax have a very low life span but can cause a lot of damage if left untreated. Ear mites, although can be treated easily, can also cause complications in a dog’s ear. However, it is not uncommon to observe dog owners realizing mite infestation late.
Going to the vet early is the best way to get mites treated and avoid severe cases. If owners seek treatment and get appropriate medication before the mites have had the chance to grow then the ear infection can be avoided.
Anti-inflammatory medications should be given under prescriptions only for swollen and abrased ears.
5. Water/ Moisture
Humans are commonly affected by swimmer’s ear, however, human ears are versatile for the moisture to escape. Now imagine given the shape and placement of a dog’s ear, how susceptible swimmer’s ears are to them.
Your pup’s ears are easily more bound to get dog ear infections than humans because of their vertical canal.
Most dogs get ear infections during the monsoon season as the moisture gets retained in their ears due to the shape of their ear canal.
Ear infections are most susceptible to dog breeds with floppy ears like Lhasa Apsos, Shih Tzus, Golden Retrievers, Beagles, Malteses, Saint Bernards, etc. Due to having a vertical ear shape. these furry dogs are not very feasible for air and moisture to escape. The moisture accumulates in the inner ear and fungi start to form. This fungus, once formed, starts spreading rapidly in your pet’s ear, thus causing discomfort and in severe cases, complications.
It can also happen if your dog swims frequently or is near water a lot in general. Most dogs that love to swim frequently need to be taken care of constantly. Their ears need to be cleaned to avoid any type of fungal growth. Even after a bath, a dog’s ears need to be dried. This type of infection is common in the outer ear canal.
If you are a first-timer with your dog’s ear infection, take your pooch to your vet and they will teach you to keep your dog’s ears clean. Ear infections in dogs are usually not fatal and are mostly not very worrisome. But sometimes, if there are more severe symptoms, it can start causing problems. This is when dog owners should constitute medical advice.
Common signs of Fungal growth due to water exposure are:
- Foul odor from the ear
- Black or brown debris in the ear
- Constant ear or head shaking
- Sensitivity around ears
5. Foreign Objects
Puppies, just like babies, like to run and play around with whatever they can find. This is all fun to watch until they get foreign objects lodged into their ears. This can be a tricky situation if not handled properly. If you end up pushing the object further into the pup’s ear, it may cause an ear infection. Always go to the vet in such cases.
6. Underlying Health Condition
Dogs with hypothyroidism are prone to ear infections. But this is not a problem on its own. If your dog does start showing symptoms of hypothyroidism, like recurring infections, take them to the vet for an accurate diagnosis. Diagnosing through a microscopic examination, they can identify whether the infection is a common bacterial or is a symptom of some underlying condition.
The only way of preventing infections when they are caused due to health conditions is to get them examined by a vet before it turns into a severe chronic disease. A healthy diet can help avoid these problems altogether.
When to worry
Ear infections, under treatment usually go away after just a week. But if they are ignored, they can grow and harm your furbaby in more ways than possible. Many dogs tell their owners in one way or another if they’re uncomfortable. A dog ear infection is not something to take lightly. Diseased tissue in a pup’s ears can lead to dangerous illnesses.
You should start worrying if the infection does not go away a week after the treatment begins. If the infection gets deeper into the canal then surgery needs to be performed to remove it.
Common signs of chronic infections:
- Swollen ear flaps.
- Bloody and wounded external ear.
- Constant whining and restlessness.
- Balance and coordination issues.
- Unusual eye movements.
- Refusal to eat or drink water.
If you notice any of these symptoms of severe dog ear infection in your dog, immediately visit the vet. They will advise treatment and help your little one come out of the discomfort.
Any information found on the site does not constitute legal or medical advice. Should you face health issues, please visit your doctor to get yourself diagnosed. Icy Health offers expert opinions and advice for informational purposes only. This is not a substitute for professional medical advice.