Ear infections are a common problem in dogs, especially in dogs with long floppy ears. Today, our Clackamas veterinarians discuss the symptoms of ear infections in dogs, as well as what you should do if your dog's ears aren't as healthy as they should be.
Your Dog's Ears
Because of the shape of their ear canals, a dog's ears are more susceptible to ear infections. If your dog swims frequently or has long floppy ears, he or she is more susceptible to ear infections because moisture can become trapped in the ear, creating an ideal environment for bacteria to thrive.
Visiting a veterinarian as soon as possible if your dog develops an ear infection will increase the likelihood of a speedy recovery. If the early symptoms of infection are ignored, however, much more severe ear infections can develop, resulting in symptoms such as loss of balance and coordination, pain, and, in severe cases, facial paralysis.
Causes of Bacterial Ear Infections in Dogs
Bacteria are by far the most common cause of ear infections in dogs; however, yeast, fungus, and ear mites can all cause your dog's ears to become infected and painful. Other causes of dog ear infections include foreign objects lodged within the ear, trauma, and tumors or polyps.
Signs of Ear Infection in Dogs
Ear infections can be excruciatingly painful for your dog, as you might expect. If your dog displays any of the following symptoms of an ear infection, schedule an appointment with your veterinarian immediately. Early treatment of ear infections can prevent the onset of excruciating pain and other severe symptoms.
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 inside the ear
- Swelling of the ear
Severe ear infections in dogs can lead to symptoms such as:
- Hearing loss
- Loss 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. Your veterinarian may also prescribe a topical solution and instruct you on how to apply it to your dog's ear at home.
An uncomplicated ear infection will usually clear up in a week or two if treated promptly. If your dog's ear infection is severe or caused by a medical condition, treatment may be more difficult and may take months to resolve. More severe cases frequently result in chronic or recurring ear infections throughout the pet's life.
It is critical to carefully follow your veterinarian's instructions to clear up your dog's ear infection as soon as possible. Failure to complete prescriptions or discontinue treatment before the infection has completely resolved can result in a recurring infection that becomes increasingly difficult to treat.
For dog ear infections, it is strongly recommended to schedule follow-up appointments with your vet. There may still be traces of infection that owners are unable to detect, despite the appearance that the infection has cleared. Finishing treatment before the infection has completely healed can result in recurring, difficult-to-treat symptoms.
Preventing Ear Infections in Dogs
Our Clackamas veterinarians believe that prevention is always preferable to treatment when it comes to ear infections. It is essential to keep your pet's ears clean and dry to prevent the development of an ear infection.
Consult your veterinarian about the best cleaning solution for your dog, take the time to gently clean your dog's ears once a week, and always dry your dog's ears after he comes 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.