Ear infections in dogs

Ear infections in dogs

What are ear infections?             

Ear infections are a problem for many dogs and dogs with hanging ears, e.g. the Basset Hound, are especially susceptible since the hanging ears limits the air flow and creates a warm and moist environment. Dogs with narrow ear canals, such as Cocker Spaniels, are also more prone to ear infections. Allergies can also increase the risk for ear infections, and parasites that infest the ear of your dog should naturally be dealt with promptly. Dogs suffering from hypothyroidism are also more at risk of developing ear infections.

As a dog owner, it is important to regularly check the condition of your dog’s ears and clean them if necessary. Overly zealous cleaning is however not recommended, since this can cause skin irritation. Consult your veterinarian or a knowledgeable breeder for more detailed information about how to prevent ear infections in your particular dog.

When reading about ear infections, you might stumble upon the term otitis externa. This is the formal term for an inflammation of the outer ear and ear canal. Infections of the inner ear are referred to as otitis interna.  

Symptoms of ear infection in dogs

When an ear infection irritates the dog, it will often try to scratch the ear or the region right under the ear. It can also start to shake its head in an effort to get rid of pain and itchiness. Some dogs will paw the ear, or rub the affected ear against other objects such as furniture.

If you take a closer look at an infected ear, you can often see that the colour of the ear has change to a darker red than normally, often with a generally inflamed appearance. The ear can also look dirty.

Ear infection treatment for dogs

First and foremost, the veterinarian needs to determine the cause of the ear infection and if the ear infection is the result of any underlying problem, such as a parasite infestation. An ear infection is usually treated with a combination of ear cleaning and medicines. An ear infection caused by bacteria can be treated with antibiotics; an infection brought on by fungi requires anti-fungal medication (fungicide), while insecticides will kill a lot of parasites.

The vet will instruct your how to clean your dog’s infected ear. An ear infection can create a lot of byproducts and proper cleaning is necessary. It is important to use the right technique, since you might otherwise push infected material into the ear. In most cases, the ear should be cleaned once a day. Always follow the instructions from the vet.

When the infected ear is clean and dry, apply the medicine. The most commonly used forms of ear infection medication are ear drops and ear ointments. Most infections will be cured after two weeks of treatment.

If the underlying cause is an allergy, the vet can provide you with more advice as to prevent further problems. In most cases, removing the thing that the dog is reacting to will be enough, e.g. changing its diet. In other cases, allergy medication suitable for dogs will be necessary.

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